The Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) strategically prevents violent conflict by disrupting likely pathways to violence, instability, and/or political subversion that undermines U.S. national interests. Strategic prevention is a deliberate effort to reduce fragility, strengthen institutions, and increase cohesion in priority countries. It includes atrocity early warning, forecasting election violence, and preventing the radicalization and recruitment of terrorist groups. Strategic prevention is an integral part of CSO’s efforts to implement the Global Fragility Act of 2019 and Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018.
Conducting Atrocity Early Warning
CSO enhances U.S. government capabilities to prevent civilian killings, protect victims, and hold perpetrators accountable. CSO’s heat maps, atrocity early warning assessments, and satellite imagery identify conflicts trends, potential atrocities at the national and sub-national levels, and timely U.S. policy responses. These forecasting capabilities help ensure civilian security across the globe.
Preventing Electoral Violence
CSO prevents violence that can undermine free and fair elections by forecasting election violence. For example, after identifying risk factors surrounding the 2019 Sidama Referendum, CSO deployed advisors to Ethiopia to conduct real-rime risk analyses and shore up violence mitigation strategies. In several instances, CSO identified critical shortages in ballot boxes, which triggered the Ethiopian government to rapidly deploy resources to target polling stations and counter rumors of voter suppression. As a result, those polling stations had no reports of violence.
Preventing Radicalization and Recruitment of Terrorist Fighters
CSO identifies and disrupts the radicalization and recruitment of terrorist fighters. In Kenya, CSO helped develop and implement county-level, counter-violent extremism action plans by focusing on community level engagement. The initiative significantly decreased al-Shabaab’s recruitment and built resilience in targeted communities. In the Philippines, CSO’s support to local and civic leaders has amplified credible voices against radicalized networks.