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Feb. 10, 2017

U.S. bureau works to contain conflicts and promote peace


Protesters in the Philippines release doves, calling on government to end crime and drug trafficking through peace-building. – AFP


While world attention is focused on the President Donald Trump’s first weeks in office, the U.S. government’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations is continuing its work behind the scenes to help prevent conflict and promote long term peace and development in countries around the world.

Deborah Ann Maclean is acting director of the office of Partnerships and Strategic Communications for the U.S. government’s bureau of conflict and stabilization operations.

She explains that it is a challenging political endeavour which works after the military and defence operations have acted to stop fighting and before the development and humanitarian agencies come into a country. Maclean describes these stabilization efforts as the ‘sweet spot’, in the middle between ending conflicts and beginning development aid programmes. She says there is a limited budget but the main resource is the people on the ground who can work towards ending conflicts in “as peaceful and least destructive way as possible”.

Maclean says there is “quite a good track record” on diplomacy which goes on quietly all the time and is “not something that you hear unless you ‘re listening for it”. Disagreements are OK in diplomacy, she says, but “misunderstandings are not OK” as they lead to conflict, which is what her office is working to resolve.

On the question of conflict prevention, Maclean says there are many examples, beginning with the Marshall plan in the wake of World War II. Also today, she says, her office is working in many areas where conflicts are either ongoing or contained, such as the Chad Basin in central Africa. While there are a lot of problems, she says, the region is “committed to try to resolve those conflicts and to try to end the threats from Boko Haram and other extremists”.


Vatican Radio