J Alexander Thier is Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the US Institute of Peace and chair of the Institute's Afghanistan and Pakistan Working Groups. Thier leads USIP efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he has lived and worked on and off since 1993. He is co-author and editor of The Future of Afghanistan (USIP, 2009) and was a member of the Afghanistan Study Group, co-chaired by General James Jones and Ambassador Tom Pickering, and co-author of its final report. He is also a member of the Pakistan Policy Working Group and co-author of its 2008 report, The Next Chapter: The United States and Pakistan.
Thier has been with USIP since 2005, when he joined as senior adviser in the Rule of Law Center of Innovation. He built up the Institute's rule of law programming in Afghanistan, including its pioneering work on establishing relations between Afghanistan's state and non-state justice systems. Thier was also director of the project on Constitution Making, Peacebuilding, and National Reconciliation and expert group lead for the Genocide Prevention Task Force.
Before joining USIP in 2005, Thier was the director of the Project on Failed States at Stanford University's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. From 2002 to 2004, Thier was legal adviser to Afghanistan's Constitutional and Judicial Reform Commissions in Kabul, where he assisted in the development of a new constitution and judicial system.
Thier has also worked as a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, a legal and constitutional expert to the British Department for International Development, and as an adviser to the Constitutional Commission of Southern Sudan. Thier worked as a U.N. and NGO official in Afghanistan during the civil war from 1993 to 1996, where he was the officer-in-charge of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan in Kabul. He also served as coordination officer for the U.N. Iraq Program in New York. An attorney, Thier was a Skadden fellow and a graduate fellow at the U.S. National Security Council's Directorate for Near-East and South Asia. He received the Richard S. Goldsmith award for outstanding work on dispute resolution from Stanford University in 2000.
Thier has appeared as an expert commentator on NPR, CBS and the BBC and has written in the New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, among others. He has a B.A. from Brown University, a master's in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.