About the Author: Kristina Aronson serves in the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction & Stabilization.
This week, more than 50 U.S. government officials convened in Washington for the “1207 Coordinators' Workshop on Conflict Prevention and Post-Crisis Stabilization: An Integrated Approach,” hosted by the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS).
The workshop focused on issues of conflict prevention and post-crisis stabilization that S/CRS helps the U.S. government address via a whole-of-government, interagency approach using “Section 1207” funds that the Department of Defense transfers to the State Department under the Fiscal Year 2006 National Defense Authorization Act, as amended. These funds are primarily used to supplement U.S. conflict prevention and stabilization, security, and reconstruction response efforts in regions where violence, state failure, or regional instability could affect U.S. national security interests.
To date, $350 million of 1207 funds have been directed toward 25 projects in 23 at-risk or post-conflict countries, such as Georgia, Lebanon, and Bangladesh, among others. Today, conflict and instability watch lists identify over 40 countries at risk of conflict within the next two years and report that nearly half of recovering countries fall back into conflict within a few years. The scope of the instability problem underlines the pressing need for the U.S. to engage in conflict prevention activities around the world in order to establish long term stability and security.
In addition to the 25 workshop participants who flew in from overseas U.S. embassies that carry out stability projects using 1207 funding, all three “Ds” -- diplomacy, development and defense -- were represented at the conference by officials from the Department of State, USAID, and the Department of Defense.
Opening remarks for the first day of the workshop were given by Ambassador John Herbst, Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization at the Department of State; Neil Levine, Director of USAID's Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation; and Michael Coulter, Principal Deputy Director for Joint Staff Strategic Plans and Policy at the Department of Defense. Ensuing panels over the two day conference discussed Congressional perspectives on conflict prevention, implementing the whole-of-government approach in Washington and in the field, and lessons learned over the past several years of developing and implementing 1207 projects. Additionally, members of the Civilian Response Corps presented their expertise and equipment and provided key insight into why the Corps is an important aspect of the U.S. government's civilian response in at-risk and post-conflict environments.
The event closed with a dialogue about the upcoming Complex Crisis Fund (CCF) and Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), and a review of how the scope and range of the 1207 projects have expanded over the last couple of years to help meet the complex challenges of at-risk and post-conflict countries.