Secretary’s Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, Ambassador John E. Herbst, and the Australian Ambassador to the United States, Kim C. Beazley, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in which the Australian Civilian Corps (ACC) and the United States’ Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) agreed to deepen their existing collaboration recognizing the importance of enhancing interoperability among civilian reconstruction and stabilization organizations and strengthening civilian capabilities across the globe.
“There are over 40 failing or failed states in the world today and global trends indicate that instability is likely to pose greater, and perhaps more numerous challenges in the years to come,” said Ambassador Herbst. “To address this growing challenge to global security and stability, the international community will have to commit to collective action and shared lessons learned in order to ensure future mission success. Our agreement today with the Australian Civilian Response Corps is a crucial step in making this commitment a reality.”
In order to strengthen capacities of the two countries and to lay a foundation for building sustainable peace, the MOU states that S/CRS and ACC intend to collaborate in field operations and deepen their dialogue on civilian conflict prevention and reconstruction and stabilization efforts. The agreement further includes provisions on collaborative training, discussions on civil conflict prevention and recovery, and an exchange of lessons learned and performance measurement methodologies. It also invites experts from both countries to participate in each other’s crisis response exercises and proposes closer coordination to respond to potential needs for future peacebuilding activities in the Pacific Rim.
The MOU, which agrees to annual meetings to discuss progress, will be reviewed after three years.
In 2004, the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) became the operational component of the State Department’s formalized reconstruction and stabilization activities. S/CRS is charged by Congress and the Secretary of State with building and maintaining the Civilian Response Corps – an expeditionary, innovative, and interagency civilian capability to plan, manage, and conduct U.S. stabilization operations on behalf of the Secretary of State and Chiefs of Mission overseas. Today, powered by a partnership with eight different agencies, S/CRS and the Corps have become the embodiment of Secretary Clinton’s concept of smart power to enhance the United States’ institutional capacity to respond to crises involving failing, failed, and post-conflict states and complex emergencies. You can find information on S/CRS, the Civilian Response Corps, and reconstruction and stabilization issues at www.state.gov/s/crs.
In October 2009, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced the creation of the Australian Civilian Corps (ACC) at the East Asia Summit in Thailand. Its purpose is to enable the rapid deployment of civilian specialists to countries affected by natural disasters or conflict, thus building on Australia’s history of providing technical assistance in times of crisis. Located in the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) the ACC is a whole-of-government initiative. Its roster will include civilian experts coming from Australia’s Commonwealth, State, and local governments as well as from the private sector. The ACC will be fully operational capability early in 2011. You can find more information about the ACC at www.ausaid.gov.au/acc.