The study describes the strategies and needs of local and regional NGOs focusing on the transformation of ethno-political conflicts in the countries of the former Soviet Union and Central-Eastern Europe. On the basis of 70 semi-structured group interviews it discusses 56 NGOs and active individuals dealing with a number of issues ranging from education and training via human rights advocacy and fact-finding to mediation. Their common trait is the commitment to the constructive and non-violent transformation of ethno-political conflicts.
The State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) was established in 2004 to address longstanding concerns, both within Congress and the broader foreign policy community, over the perceived lack of the appropriate capabilities and processes to deal with transitions from conflict to stability. These capabilities and procedures include adequate planning mechanisms for stabilization and reconstruction operations, efficient interagency coordination structures and procedures in carrying out such tasks, and appropriate civilian personnel for many of the non-military 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 for designing, planning, and conducting post-conflict operations, as is fielding the appropriate civilian personnel. In his January 23, 2007, State of the Union address, President Bush called for Congress to work with his Administration “to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps.” Included in the Administration’s February 4, 2008, budget request for FY2009 is a $248.6 million Civilian Stabilization Initiative that seeks to establish that corps.