Below are three key internationally focused peacebuilding agencies in the U.S. government that we work to keep funded and keep their focus on leading-edge peacebuilding practices.
United States Institute of Peace (USIP)
The United States Institute of Peace was created by Congress as a nonpartisan, independent organization in 1984. Its main mandate has been prevention and mitigation of international conflict in a nonviolent manner. If the prevention and mitigation is successful, it saves the United States government the money (and lives) that would have been spent in intensive and expensive armed conflict. In the past year, budget cuts have hurt many peace supporting institutions, including the USIP which saw a 6% reduction in funding.
Programs at the USIP apply across the world in conflict resolution, mediation, post-conflict peace, and violence prevention. The institute is crucial for moving United States foreign policy toward a culture of peace, rather than a culture of aggression. The USIP’s previous budget was $42 million, merely the equivalent of sending approximately 39 soldiers to Afghanistan. The USIP has had an established office in Kabul since 2008 and has continued to establish programs throughout the country. Another program to specifically highlight, in contrast to United States war efforts, is the USIP program in Iraq, based in its office in Baghdad which was established in 2004. There, dialogue has been fostered amongst groups previously in conflict and USIP has supported new NGOs in the region.
International programs cannot be supported without a stable budget. Programs that are created to help maintain peace after a conflict situation, which are a main component of the USIP, are rarely financially supported independently, but yet are a crucial part of the prevention of future hostility, and therefore future costs. The USIP budget goes toward a wide variety of peace building missions, grants, and fellowships.
Examples of Key Projects and Functions of USIP:
-Peace-building educational initiatives in Afghanistan
-Research and policy analysis in Iran
-Promotion of dialogue, security, and stability in Iraq
-Issue engagement in the Sudan and South Sudan.
Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO)
The Bureau of Conflict Stabilization Operations is a part of the United States Department of State. It is a new department, created in 2011, and has since enacted operations in 44 countries. The primary goal of these operations is to reduce the risk of the continuation of the cycle of violence, decreasing the likelihood of reemergence of armed conflict. CSO works largely in the short term for stabilization operations, but also functions as a base for research and works closely with other governmental departments, international bodies, as well as NGOs.
The CSO also funds the Civilian Response Corps (CRC), a sector that rapidly deploys civilians to assist in stabilization operations in countries affected by conflict. These civilians focus on reporting back to policy makers, finding legal assistance, and obtaining immediate humanitarian and security assistance.
CSO works in countries that have urgent, unmet needs that are in some way a matter of United States national security. CSO is currently working in Syria, Kenya, the northern tier of Central American, and Burma in terms of major engagements. For smaller engagements, CSO has a presence in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
This is a fledgling program that has seen recent success. Most programs are developed on 12-month plans, aiming to meet specific goals with partnerships with locally driven projects and organizations as well as major international organizations. In this way, CSO aims to stream resources toward effective and specific strategies. The new emphasis on evaluation and analysis will also provide information and ideas for those working in the country after CSO’s 12-month plan.
Examples of Key Projects and Functions of CSO:
-Notable engagements in Syria, Kenya, Central America, and Burma
-Locally driven integrated strategies
-Anti-bureaucratic nature for immediate response
-Focus on civilian response, specifically in diplomatic and humanitarian rather than military
Complex Crises Fund (CCF)
The Complex Crises Fund is managed by USAID. The budget for the CCF would provide unprogrammed monetary funding in the event of the need to provide prevention support, post-conflict support, or in countries/regions at high risk of conflict or escalation of conflict. The goal would be to prevent and respond in order to target the root causes of conflict. The CCF can also be used to support immediate responses by the CSO, in the past up to $10 million.
The CCF was created in 2010 and has since provided critical support for programs in Kenya, Kyrgystan, Sri Lanka, Cote D’Ivoire, Tunisia, and Yemen. CCF provided a quick use of funds for civilian response programs that also involved the host government’s participation. Since “The Arab Spring” there has been a new focus on providing support for fledgling democracies at risk of conflict.
The CCF is an example of funding for civilian response rather that military response in times where humanitarian and diplomatic assistance is needed in the face of conflict in order to prevent the need for military involvement. In the past, the lack of funding and availability of immediate funds for civilian response groups has led to their ineffectiveness, creating a cycle of apathy towards their funding. This leads to an increase of funding and use of immediate military response, rather than investment in the less costly option of conflict prevention.
Supporting funding for the CCF will ultimately strengthen the ability for alternatives to military intervention, such as conflict prevention, diplomatic intervention, and humanitarian assistance.
Examples of Key Programs and Functions of CCF:
-Notable work in high-risk countries such as Tunisia and Kenya
-Provides available funds for quick responses to escalating conflicts and post-conflict situations
-Works with local host-governments
-Makes funding for alternatives to military intervention possible
-Targets root causes of conflict, rather than immediate effects