The New Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations at Work

Posted by Kathryn Nash
April 16, 2012
Women With Election Banner in DRC

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.

You can learn more about CSO on our web page, and see more photographs from the DRC in our photo essay.



South Korea
April 20, 2012

Palgye in South Korea writes:

Inducing an internal coup d'eta rather than The military intervention in Syria,

Note that under the cooperation of Russia and China - for citizens to strengthen the support of a weapon, the surplus material ...

Syrian soldiers is can fighting in the Middle East as the only army to Israeli, I think. If there is fighting in the city, the nightmare repeated in Somalia will likely suspect. If successful coup d'etat, while landing troops, support militia.....?

Other case in middle east,

The people of Egypt for the friendly attitude to the revolution, the dictatorship of Libya that to continue to weaken the army,

Success factors that easily, but a revolution - criticism of the international community against terrorism too,,,,

Syria ........

Syria is a direct military intervention. A good way to encourage a coup d'etat I think.

I am, all the military intervention against Libya was actively in favor.


Buffett Rule

"Senate Rule Buffett asked whether the bill in a vote to continue the discussion of 51 to 45 has terminated discussions.

In order to pass the bill should not continue deliberations at least 60 senators voted to throw. "

Catherine F.
New York, USA
April 17, 2012

Catherine F. in New York writes:

I read over your pages and I would be interested to know what the criteria is for selection of a country for engagement by the CSO, as distinct from USAID or DRL or OTI or any other department, or whether they overlap.

Is it something like the UN's Peace Building Commission?

United States
April 18, 2012

Henry in the U.S.A. writes:

If the US wishes to reduce conflict, an obvious first step would be to break with the British "perpetual regime change" policy. I defy you to name one country where the population has actually benefited from a US-sponsored insurgency or direct military intervention.

If the US wants to play an actually positive role, I would suggest looking at what China is doing: helping to build large-scale infrastructure projects, instead of offering stone age "sustainable" technologies.

District Of Columbia, USA
April 19, 2012

Lindsey in Washington, D.C. writes:

According to the State Department, the mission of the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) is “to advance U.S. national security by driving integrated, civilian-led efforts to prevent, respond to, and stabilize crises in priority states, setting conditions for long-term peace.” While this mission is a good one, I am concerned by the lack of information given by the CSO. What suggestions and recommendations are the foundation for ending crisis? What makes a state a “priority”? What is the end goal for the United States? Is there an economic benefit, a hope for allies? The CSO has an important role to play in today’s society and they will be better able to fulfill their mission, if they and others clearly know the motivations for decisions made.

Brian K.
District Of Columbia, USA
April 20, 2012

Brian Keane in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations writes:

Hi, Catherine. Thank you for your question. CSO's focus is on having the maximum impact in the first 12 months of a crisis. Right now, most of our effort is dedicated to hot spots like Syria, Burma, Kenya, and Northern Central America, where the United States can make a contribution in the immediate future. We're also examining eight to ten other places where we may be involved on a smaller scale, where putting the right person in the right place at the right time can really make a difference. Rather than focus on specific subjects like some of our partners at State and USAID, we work to bring coherence to U.S. efforts across a whole range of conflict-related issues. It's important that all U.S. efforts get the same page to help a given country get back on the road to peace. This way, quick-impact efforts, by CSO and others, as well as longer-term programs, will all be working as part of the same overall strategy.

Brian K.
District Of Columbia, USA
April 20, 2012

Brian Keane in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations writes:

Hi, Lindsey. Thanks for your questions. You can read a little about how we choose our engagements in our response to Catherine’s question below. Crisis response must be tailored to each situation, so each of our engagements begins with a fast, thorough analysis. We want to make sure we’re listening to local voices and then developing a strategy based on those needs. We’re doing this work for two reasons. First, preventing unnecessary death and suffering, helping people avoid violence and improve their lives, is just the right thing to do. Second, when countries become stable and self-sufficient, they can be stronger partners to help us take on shared challenges in everything from energy and environment to international trade and security.


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