Peacekeeping and Conflict Transitions: Background and Congressional Action on Civilian Capabilities
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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The State Departments new Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization SCRS is intended to address long-standing concerns, both within Congress and the broader foreign policy community, over the perceived lack of appropriate capabilities to deal with transitions from conflict to sustainable stability. These capabilities include adequate planning mechanisms for stabilization and reconstruction operations, efficient interagency coordination procedures for carrying out such tasks, and appropriate civilian personnel for many of the nonmilitary tasks required. Effectively distributing resources among the various executive branch actors, maintaining clear lines of authority and jurisdiction, and balancing short- and long-term objectives are major challenges. Established in July 2004, SCRS is establishing the basic capabilities necessary to carry out such operations. Currently working with a staff of under 40, most detailed from other agencies, SCRS has taken steps to monitor and plan for potential conflicts, to develop the first phase of a rapid response crisis management capability, to improve interagency and international coordination, to develop interagency training exercises, and to help State Department regional bureaus develop proposals for preventive action. The 109th Congress faces a number of issues regarding the strengthening of civilian capabilities for peacekeeping and post-conflict operations. This report provides background on these issues and tracks Congressional proposals and action related to them. The first is whether to fund fully and put into permanent law the SCRS and its operations. The second issue is whether to authorize and fund two new mechanisms that would operationalize the State Department i.e., transform it from an institution devoted to diplomacy to one that would effect change through on-the-ground personnel and programs dedicated to promoting security and stability in transitions from post-conflict situations.
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