iOS app Android app

David L. Phillips
GET UPDATES FROM David L. Phillips
David L. Phillips is currently Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. Phillips has served as Foreign Affairs Expert and as Senior Adviser to the U.S. Department of State and as Senior Adviser to the United Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Phillips has worked at academic institutions as Executive Director of Columbia University’s International Conflict Resolution Program, Director of American University’s Program on Conflict Prevention and Peace-building, Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Future of Diplomacy Project Fellow and Fellow and at Harvard University’s Center for Middle East Studies, and Professor at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. He was Deputy Director of the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations, Senior Fellow at the Preventive Diplomacy Program of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, and Project Director at the International Peace Research Institute of Oslo. Phillips has also been a foundation executive having been President of the Congressional Human Rights Foundation. Phillips has been an analyst and commentator for NBC News and the British Broadcasting Company. He has authored books, policy reports, and hundreds of articles in leading publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune and Foreign Affairs.

Entries by David L. Phillips

U.S. and Turkey on a Collision Course in Syria

(26) Comments | Posted November 2, 2015 | 11:44 AM

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatens "all necessary measures" to prevent Syrian Kurds from advancing west of the Euphrates River. The People's Protection Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) is America's principal ally fighting ISIS in Syria. Attacking the YPG puts Turkey and the US on a collision...

Read Post

Turkey's Refugee Problem

(0) Comments | Posted October 26, 2015 | 6:43 PM

Turkish merchants and human smugglers are providing a service, profiting from refugees transiting through Turkey to Greece and sanctuary in Northern Europe. More problematic, however, is Turkey's official policy. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is demanding funds and other concessions from the European Union (EU) in exchange for cooperation with the...

Read Post

Muslims Can Serve

(4) Comments | Posted October 8, 2015 | 10:50 AM

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson asserts that the United States should not have a Muslim president because Islam is inconsistent with the Constitution. According to Dr. Carson, "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation." Dr. Carson does not appreciate the difference between a...

Read Post

Lessons from Bosnia for Syria

(1) Comments | Posted October 6, 2015 | 1:22 PM

There are striking parallels between Syria today and what happened in Bosnia in the 1990s.

More than 100,000 people died and several million were displaced in Bosnia between 1991 and 1995. The conflict between Serbs, Croats, and Bosniak Muslims seemed intractable. However, the US facilitated training and the delivery of...

Read Post


(0) Comments | Posted September 29, 2015 | 11:44 AM

Though the Justice and Development Party (AKP) will win a plurality in Turkey's parliamentary ballot on November 1, the elections mark the beginning of the end for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turks are tired of autocracy. They are increasingly uncomfortable with Erdogan's efforts to undermine secular governance, erode the...

Read Post

Turkey's Dark Future

(0) Comments | Posted July 30, 2015 | 4:50 PM

Storm clouds are gathering. Turkey has a dark future. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan bears responsibility. His policies have made Turkey less secure, stable, and solvent. Erdogan is digging a hole for Turkey. Instead of getting out of the ditch, he keeps digging, casting aspersions and blaming others for Turkey's problems....

Read Post

ISIS gains in Syria

(0) Comments | Posted June 3, 2015 | 1:03 PM

ISIS gains in Syria

ISIS is gaining ground in Syria. While working on a long-term strategy to train and equip the moderate Syrian opposition, the United States can stem the Islamic State's advance by providing weapons and close air support to battle-hardened Kurdish militias -- the "Peoples Protection Units" (YPG).

Read Post

Strategic Patience: Keeping Burma's Reforms on Track

(1) Comments | Posted April 28, 2015 | 4:36 PM

Yangon -- Burma's President Thein Sein and ethnic armed groups recently endorsed a draft nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), which could bring an end to 60 years of ethnic conflict. The interim accord is the result of torturous negotiations over several years. However, the peace process is far from complete. Pressure...

Read Post

Centennial of the Armenian Genocide: Recognition and Reconciliation

(0) Comments | Posted April 20, 2015 | 4:59 PM

The following are remarks I gave at the New York University conference "Armenians a Century After the Genocide: What Next?" on April 17, 2015.

My remarks concern the past, the present and the future.

The facts have been documented over a century of scholarship, eyewitness accounts, and testimony in trials...

Read Post

A Fork in the Road for Aceh

(0) Comments | Posted April 15, 2015 | 5:54 PM

Banda Aceh -- Western diplomats worry about Islamic extremism in Aceh, a province in Indonesia on the northern tip of Sumatra. Aceh could prove vulnerable to Islamists unless commitments in the 2005 peace agreement between Jakarta and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) are fulfilled. Delivering a peace dividend will keep...

Read Post


(0) Comments | Posted January 9, 2015 | 3:43 PM

By David L. Phillips

I received five messages in less than an hour from Turks, warning me about Fethulleh Gulen, head of the Gulen movement, which they called a "terrorist organization." Why is so much vitriol being directed at Gulen? Who's...

Read Post

Kobani Crossroads

(0) Comments | Posted November 20, 2014 | 3:19 PM

By David L. Phillips

Kobani represents a crossroads in the war against the Islamic State (IS). The battle for Kobani is also a defining moment in US policy toward the Kurds, the construction of Kurdish national identity, and the West's view of Turkey as an ally.

Read Post

Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey List

(0) Comments | Posted November 9, 2014 | 11:25 AM



Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey Links

By David L. Phillips


Is Turkey collaborating with the Islamic State (ISIS)? Allegations range from military cooperation and weapons transfers to logistical support, financial assistance, and the...

Read Post

Save Syrian Kurds From Slaughter in Kobani

(0) Comments | Posted October 11, 2014 | 4:41 PM

ISIS is on the verge of occupying Kobani, the Kurdish city on the Syria-Turkey border. The UN Special Envoy warns that up 700 people, mainly elderly, will "most likely be massacred." Kurdish fighters desperately need arms and ammunition to stave off the ISIS onslaught. The UN Security Council should also...

Read Post

Tradition and History Matter to Albanians

(0) Comments | Posted June 5, 2014 | 4:09 PM

Tradition and history matter to Albanians. As voters go to the polls tomorrow, they should remember that Kosova's independence was no gift. The decision to go to war and the determined effort by the United States and its allies to realize Kosova's independence was the culmination of efforts over many...

Read Post

Power-Sharing in Ukraine

(0) Comments | Posted May 14, 2014 | 6:38 PM

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is organizing roundtable talks on power-sharing in Ukraine. OSCE Member States are well-placed to share their experience distributing governance responsibilities in post-conflict countries undergoing political transition.

Following are some legal and political issues for Ukrainians to consider:


Read Post

Blood Brothers: Milosevic and Putin

(0) Comments | Posted April 21, 2014 | 11:21 AM

Slobodan Milosevic and Vladimir Putin are cut from the same cloth. Just as the West's experience with Milosevic can inform its approach to Putin, diplomacy during the Yugoslav crisis can inform strategies for dealing with Russia today.

The political careers and tactics of Milosevic and Putin are parallel. Neither...

Read Post

"Consequences" for Russia's Aggression

(3) Comments | Posted April 9, 2014 | 8:54 PM

Pro-Russian demonstrators in Eastern Ukraine are sponsored by the Kremlin to create chaos as a pretext for Russia's military intervention. With at least 40,000 Russian troops massed on the border threatening to invade the Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk regions in Ukraine, President Barack Obama has warned of "

Read Post

Crimea's Technically Flawed Referendum

(6) Comments | Posted March 19, 2014 | 11:51 AM

By David L. Phillips and Carina Perelli

The referendum in Crimea was neither an exercise in democracy, consulting Crimeans on important decisions about their future. Nor was it an effective conflict management tool, distributing power between competing interests. Crimea's referendum was technically flawed. It therefore, lacks...

Read Post

Crimea Is Not Kosovo

(24) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 4:37 PM

Russia is pointing to the "Kosovo precedent" as justification for its actions in Crimea. This is a false argument. There are fundamental legal and political differences between the internationally sanctioned process, which culminated in Kosovo's independence, and Russia's land-grab in Crimea. Kosovo's independence is based on international law;...

Read Post