Ambassador Rick Barton of Maine is the Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations and the Secretary of State’s senior advisor on conflict and stabilization.
The Bureau is responsible for driving the State Department’s efforts to improve U.S. government effectiveness in preventing cycles of violent conflict and addressing crises. Mr. Barton leads a team of 160, who are focused on a few countries of special importance or where catalytic initiatives can further locally-driven solutions.
The bureau has become known for its agility, innovative strategies, broad partnerships, strengthening local initiatives, and the use of advanced analytics and mass communications. During CSO’s first years, the top-priority countries have been Syria, Burma, Honduras, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Nigeria. In 2013 Mr. Barton received a Distinguished Honor Award from the Department “in recognition of your groundbreaking work to create the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, promote peacebuilding and empower women, youth and other change agents seeking peaceful change in their communities and societies.”
Previously Ambassador Barton served in New York as the U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC), working on development, peacebuilding, climate change, and human rights. During that time, he was actively engaged in the creation of UN Women, the advancement of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, the Millennium Development Goals summit, the suspension of Libya’s voting rights on the UN Human Rights Commission, Haiti’s post-earthquake reconstruction, Democracy Fund initiatives, and efforts to better align U.S. and UN development country programs.
Mr. Barton has worked to improve the U.S. and international response to conflict in more than 40 of the world’s most unstable places. He led independent reviews of Iraq reconstruction; developed civilian strategies for Iraq, Sudan, and Sri Lanka; created new measurements of progress in Iraq and Afghanistan; and initiated path-breaking approaches to conflict reduction in Pakistan and Nigeria.
The leadership positions he held in this field include co-director of the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), deputy high commissioner of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Geneva, and founding director of the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI). Mr. Barton taught for five years at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, where he was the Frederick Schultz Professor.
He served on the Smart Power Commission, as an expert adviser to the Iraq Study Group, and led conflict-related working groups at the United States Institute of Peace and for the Princeton Project on National Security.
Ambassador Barton has a B.A. from Harvard College and an MBA from Boston University, and he was honored with a doctorate by Wheaton College of Massachusetts. As the children of American diplomats, Mr. Barton and his brothers lived in Argentina, Spain, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, and Mexico.