The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) is dedicated to anticipating, preventing, and responding to conflicts that undermine U.S. national interests. Funding supports data-driven analysis and frontline stabilization advisors to ensure that diplomacy, development, and defense can effectively manage the most complex crises.
What does it buy?
CSO programs support diplomatic efforts on conflict prevention and stabilization. Short-term, targeted programs work to counter violent extremism, address political instability, and promote security sector stabilization.
Why is it important?
CSO collaborates with the Department of State’s regional and functional bureaus, the Department of Defense, and USAID to detail stabilization advisors, where they work alongside the military—often U.S. Special Forces.
For example, in the first year following the introduction of stabilization programs in Afghanistan, there was a 43% reduction of enemy attacks; Afghan security forces increased by 31% above 2010, and girls’ school attendance rates increased 67% above 2001 rates.
CSO uses innovative data analytics to anticipate and prevent instability that could otherwise result in costly military and humanitarian operations.
The bureau has developed the Instability Monitoring Analysis Platform (IMAP), which collects, visualizes, and analyzes political instability and conflict data worldwide.
CSO combines this data with on-the-ground knowledge to make evidence-based recommendations for U.S. policies and programs in conflict zones.
CSO works across the globe in diverse contexts such as Afghanistan, Ukraine, Colombia, Venezuela, Yemen, Nigeria, and Mozambique.
CSO uses cutting-edge data analytic tools to anticipate and prevent instability that could otherwise result in costly military and humanitarian operations.
Why should Americans care?
CSO plays a vital role in national security and stabilization efforts.
As the 2018 USAID-State-DoD Stabilization Assistance Review notes, “Stabilization does not require extremely high funding levels; rather, stabilization depends on consistent, flexible funding accounts…that can enable agile, targeted, and sequenced approaches to stabilization programming.”
CSO analysis brings greater coherence to U.S. foreign assistance programs and enhances U.S. diplomatic engagements by identifying drivers of violent conflict early, aligning U.S. Government efforts to mitigate threats effectively and efficiently.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, CSO’s IMAP has indicated an uptick in violence and conflict. Moreover, CSO anticipates second-order effects caused by the pandemic, including a loss of tax revenue, civil service layoffs, and overall economic downturns, increasing the potential for conflict in already unstable states.
What more could be done?
Additional investment could allow CSO to expand its analytical toolset and improve its capacity to predict, target, and mitigate at-risk contexts, reducing the need for costly future interventions.
Increased funds could allow CSO to seamlessly scale up its ability to anticipate, mitigate, or prevent instability in dozens of fragile and conflict-affected contexts around the globe.
For example, the proliferation of militia and breakdown of national armies remains a key impediment to stabilizing fragile and failed states. With additional resources, CSO could link understanding of the security environment with political resolution options to promote stability.
Funding levels may not accurately reflect those in the appropriations bills and/or reports due to rounding.