On April 17, the first-ever Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO), Rick Barton, will discuss how the bureau is working to prevent violent conflict and respond when crises do break out. You can join him for a live chat on the Department of State's Facebook page from 2:00-2:30 p.m. (EDT).
The Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) helps countries and people find the road away from conflict and toward peace. Over the last two decades, the United States has found itself increasingly involved in, and affected by, weak or failed states. The interconnected nature of today's world makes instability and conflict, even in distant corners of the planet, a much greater concern.
One of the places where CSO has put its mission into action is the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). On November 28, 2011, the DRC, a country that has suffered tremendous instability and violence in the last two decades, held its first elections completely organized by the Congolese government since the end of the Mobutu era. This represented both a milestone and a challenge for the country.
As the elections approached, the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa reached out to the new Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) to help better analyze conflict dynamics in key regions and develop and implement an election observation mission and reporting plan. In the days following the elections, it became evident that serious problems were developing in the centers that compiled the votes. The United States used information from observer teams to inform its understanding as to how the electoral process was unfolding and to formulate its post-election response.