Foreign Assistance for Peace: The USAID

This second report of a two-part series looks at the peace-building function at USAID. It examines the evolution of reconstruction and stabilization (R&S) in the Bush administration’s foreign assistance strategy and describes the effort to integrate the State Department-USAID budget process for foreign operations, including peace building. It then examines the organizational architecture for dealing with conflict, as it has evolved in the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance. The examination focuses on the creation of the Office of Transition Assistance and the Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation, but also delineates the role of other offices more tangentially concerned with R&S. It then reviews the work of USAID’s geographic bureaus in responding to conflict. It ends with recommendations for reform.

An Expanded Mandate for Peacebuilding: The State Department Role in Peace Diplomacy, Reconstruction, and Stabilization

This first section of a two-part report examines the evolution of peace building in the State Department. It begins with a sketch of the role of diplomacy in peace building. It reviews the leadership role of the secretary of state. It proceeds to an examination of multi-bureau involvement in the reconstruction and stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and Iran. It assesses the central role of individual geographic bureaus. The bulk of the section is devoted to a description and evaluation of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization. It concludes that traditional peace-building diplomacy, led by geographic bureaus, has been uneasily and incompletely yoked with the work of the Coordinator’s Office and advances suggestions for reform. The second section of this report, published separately, looks at the peace-building function at the USAID. With the exception of Iraq, the report is concerned with management of political conflicts within states and not with inter-state conflicts.

Trends and Causes of Armed Conflict

From the start of 1990 to the end of 1999 there were 118 armed conflicts world wide, involving 80 states and two para-state regions and resulting in the death of approximately six million people. If we seek to prevent conflict from escalating into armed warfare, or, failing that, to at least achieve an end to fighting as soon as possible, and if we want to maximise the opportunity for avoiding the return of the war after apparent settlement, we must first be sure that we properly understand armed conflicts and their causes. This chapter attempts to provide a brief overview of what is known and understood about the causes of armed conflict. The theoretical basis of that knowledge is both limited and important. It is limited, in that it does not offer much by way of general explanation of the phenomenon of armed conflict; this is, perhaps, hardly surprising, given its complexity and diversity. It is also important because it provides valuable guidance as to where to look when analysing individual conflicts for signs of potential escalation and when seeking opportunities for preventing violent escalation. The chapter begins by discussing the incidence and nature of armed conflicts during the 1990s. It then reviews the current state of theoretical knowledge with the aim of providing not only an overview but also a source of further reference, before proceeding to methodology. The article then identifies the paired concepts of justice and mobilisation as the best way to link different types and levels of causes, to connect the short-term with the long-term and to relate the socio-economic background with the political foreground. It illustrates this by looking more closely at the category referred to as ethnic conflict.