To lead, coordinate and institutionalize U.S. Government civilian capacity to prevent or prepare for post-conflict situations, and to help stabilize and reconstruct societies in transition from conflict or civil strife, so they can reach a sustainable path toward peace, democracy and a market economy.
A consensus has developed within the Executive Branch, in Congress and among independent experts that the U.S. Government needs a more robust capability to prevent conflict when possible, and if necessary manage stabilization and reconstruction operations in countries emerging from conflict or civil strife. In July 2004, Congress authorized the reprogramming of funds to create the State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS). Ambassador John E. Herbst was named Coordinator in 2006, and reports directly to the Secretary of State.
Failing and post-conflict states pose one of the greatest national and international security challenges of our day, threatening vulnerable populations, their neighbors, our allies, and ourselves. Struggling states can provide breeding grounds for terrorism, crime, trafficking, and humanitarian catastrophes, and can destabilize an entire region. Experience shows that managing conflict, particularly internal conflict, is not a passing phenomenon. It has become a mainstream part of our foreign policy.
Responding to New Foreign Policy and National Security Interests
Until now, the international community has undertaken stabilization and reconstruction operations in an ad hoc fashion, recreating the tools and relationships each time a crisis arises. If we are going to ensure that countries are set on a sustainable path towards peace, democracy and a market economy, we need new, institutionalized foreign policy tools - tools that can influence the choices countries and people make about the nature of their economies, their political systems, their security, indeed, in some cases about the very social fabric of a nation.
--07/15/08 Frequently Asked Questions