U.S. Highlights Progress in Helping Troubled Nations Recover

Washington – The Bush administration, in a series of State Department fact sheets released August 23, highlights how it is helping vulnerable communities as they struggle to recover from violence and armed conflicts.

The United States “strongly supports international efforts to foster cooperation and interoperability to transform conflict and build peace,” according to the fact sheets, issued by the Office of the Coordinator for Stabilization and Reconstruction.                   

Experts agree that failing and post-conflict states pose a major security challenge because they can become breeding grounds for a host of transnational threats capable of destabilizing entire regions, including terrorism, organized crime, drug and human trafficking, and widespread humanitarian catastrophes. 

For many years, the international community approached post-conflict states in an ad hoc fashion, re-establishing relationships and relearning the same lessons about what techniques are most effective at supporting communities in crisis. 

To help break this cycle, the Stabilization and Reconstruction Office was created in 2004 to bring together expertise from across the U.S. government and direct it into international partnerships. It seeks to defuse conflicts where possible and help failing and post-conflict states achieve peace, security, development, democratic practices, market economies and the rule of law.

The coordinator, Ambassador John Herbst, supports the secretary of state in her role as the U.S. government lead for conflict management efforts under a December 2005 presidential directive. (See related article.)                                                          

In recent years, the office has played a role in defusing conflicts in Sudan, Haiti, and Afghanistan. It also deployed personnel to Lebanon to assist in the departure of U.S. citizens from the recent crisis.

The fact sheets address several aspects of assisting nation states in conflict or recovering from conflict:

• “A Whole-of-Government Approach To Prevent, Resolve, and Transform Conflict” details the elements of the Bush administration’s effort to shape peace building though focused, collaborative planning and robust, coordinated operations.

• “International Partnerships To Build Peace” describes U.S. partnerships for crisis prevention and recovery, including bilateral cooperation with friends and allies; consultations with the United Nations, NATO and the European Union; and ongoing dialogues with international humanitarian aid organizations.

• “State Department Stands Up Active Response Corps” documents the office’s progress in training seven diplomatic “first responders,” as well as a cadre of 250 volunteers who can be deployed rapidly to trouble spots with teams of U.S. government experts to help failing states re-establish security and the rule of law.                                 

Managing conflicts through building effective democracies is an essential element of the President’s National Security Strategy, released in March.  (See related article.)    

Additional information about the Office of the Coordinator for Stabilization and Reconstruction is available on the State Department Web site.

For more information, see International Security.