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New State Department Office Targets Post-conflict Crises

25 May 2005

Principal task will be to coordinate U.S. government response

The State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization was established to prevent or prepare for post-conflict crises.

The newly created office will also help stabilize and reconstruct societies rebuilding in the aftermath of conflict or civil strife, according to a State Department announcement May 24.  The overall objective is to help post-conflict societies "reach a sustainable path toward peace, democracy and a market economy," the department said.

The office is working to improve:

-- Central management of the United States' conflict response;
-- Field-based coordination and rapid response capabilities; and
-- Provision of skills and resources for implementation.

Following is the text of the announcement:

(begin text)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
May 24, 2005

MEDIA NOTE

Building Civilian Conflict-Response Capabilities

"We must improve the responsiveness of our government to help nations emerging from tyranny and war ... and that means our government must be able to move quickly to provide needed assistance."

- President Bush, May 17, 2005

The Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) will lead, coordinate, and institutionalize U.S. government civilian capacity to prevent or prepare for post-conflict situations, and to help stabilize and reconstruct societies in transition from conflict or civil strife so they can reach a sustainable path toward peace, democracy and a market economy.

S/CRS is working to improve: central management of the United States' conflict response; field-based coordination and rapid response capabilities; and provision of skills and resources for implementation.

Washington Management:  Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization

The Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization provides central Washington management of a U.S. conflict response, and serves as a force multiplier across agencies.  Organizing civilian operations in a more focused, rapid and integrated manner can save lives and money, as well as support reform, ensure stability, and allow the U.S. to be an even more effective international partner.

Core Functions:

-- Guide the U.S. planning process.

-- Improve conflict prevention capabilities.

-- Coordinate central management, and establish means for coordination in the field.

-- Serve as a focal point for post-conflict outreach to the international community and international financial institutions, working with other bureaus and agencies.

-- Develop in advance the people, resources, training and guidance needed for successful stabilization and reconstruction.

-- Establish institutional memory by systematically capturing and applying lessons learned.

Operational Diplomacy:  Creating a Ready-Response Capacity

The Administration's FY 2006 budget request provides for the creation of a ready-response capacity within the State Department to begin to build a corps drawn from the Civil and Foreign Services.  They would train and exercise together, and have a range of political, economic, communications, security, and management skills. The Department will use the Employee Profile Plus database to rapidly identify other personnel with core skills (e.g. languages, country expertise) as needed in response to crises.

Core Functions:

-- Deploy as first responders to guide post-conflict efforts crucial to the transition process.

-- Engage local communities and governments, and coordinate with international partners or peacekeepers on the ground to promote unity of effort.

-- Augment the U.S. Embassy presence on the ground, or establish diplomatic operations where a U.S. embassy or mission does not exist.

-- Support the Washington coordination group or other task forces that backstop U.S. teams in the field.

-- Reinforce ongoing stabilization and reconstruction missions as needed.

Civilian Field Implementation: Global Skills Network

-- Agencies will pre-position skills and resources for implementation in the field. The Global Skills Network consists of contracts, grants, and other arrangements with organizations and individuals with expertise that can be obtained in part with a Conflict Response Fund.

-- The Network will utilize expertise and programs across the U.S. Government.

-- S/CRS and U.S. Joint Forces Command commissioned a study to assess whether and how to augment contracted capabilities with a civilian reserve system. (The study is not yet complete.)

-- The $100 million Conflict Response Fund contained in the President's FY 2006 budget request would allow the U.S. to jump start programs critical to creating a positive dynamic on the ground in the early stages of a peace agreement or international intervention. The State Department would channel resources to government agencies best able to meet the immediate needs.

Core Functions:

-- Assess and fill gaps across government agencies through contracts, grants and other arrangements with organizations and outside experts.

-- Provide skills on the ground in a range of areas, to include:  international civilian police, training indigenous law enforcement, supporting civil society, building independent media, providing financial advice, stimulating the private sector, repairing key infrastructure, strengthening governmental administration and developing the justice system.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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