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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Office of Emerging Security Challenges (AVC/ESC)

Mission Statement

The Office of Emerging Security Challenges (AVC/ESC), headed by Eric Desautels, provides research, analysis, options, and recommendations to support the AVC Bureau Assistant Secretary, the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security (T), and other senior Department of State officials on all policy, programmatic, technical, and threat issues related to missile defense systems and cooperation, outer space security issues and transparency and confidence building measures, cyber strategic stability, and Arctic and Antarctic security issues. The office represents the Bureau and/or Department in interagency meetings and in bilateral and multilateral consultations and negotiations in those areas.

AVC/ESC leads in the development of Department of State positions to enhance ballistic missile defense cooperation among Allies and Partners including in bilateral and multilateral fora, including at NATO, the NATO-Russia Council and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and to promote confidence building measures with Russia and China related to missile defense deployments. AVC/ESC is responsible for organizing, directly supporting, and participating in bilateral negotiations related to the deployment of European-based Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) missile defense assets in Europe.

AVC/ESC leads the effort of the Department of State to implement security aspects of the President’s National Space Policy by promoting outer space security cooperation and engagement. AVC/ESC leads the pursuit of space-related transparency and confidence building measures (TCBMs), bilateral Space Security Dialogues with established and emerging space powers, and multilateral cooperation such as the European Union’s draft International Code of Conduct on Outer Space Activities. AVC/ESC also supports the formulation and implementation of military- and intelligence-related space policies, including the space situational awareness information sharing and maritime domain awareness activities of the Department of Defense. AVC/ESC also supports the efforts of the Bureau of Oceans, Environment, and Science at the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, including the Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities.

AVC/ESC plays a leading role in the efforts of the Department of State to promote transparency, enhance cooperation, and build confidence in cyber security issues. AVC/ESC supports the Office of the State Coordinator for Cyber Issues in negotiating and implementing bilateral and regional confidence-building and clarifying international norms of behavior for state conduct in cyber space.

AVC/ESC leads the Department’s efforts to ensure peace and stability in the Polar regions, including the arms control provisions contained in the Antarctic Treaty to maintain and preserve the Arctic as a region free of conflict.

Key missions of the office include:

Developing and implementing Missile Defense Policy: In coordination with the Department’s regional bureaus, and in support of the Assistant Secretary, AVC/ESC has the leading role in developing and implementing a diplomatic strategy to encourage cooperation and participation by foreign governments in missile defense programs and related activities.

Developing and implementing policies regarding the national security uses of outer space: In coordination with the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, and the State Department’s regional bureaus, AVC/ESC has the lead in developing and implementing diplomatic strategies regarding national security doctrine and policy as it applies to military- and intelligence-related space programs and operations. The office’s portfolio includes diplomatic and public diplomacy initiatives in support of vital U.S. national interests in outer space. These initiatives seek both to preserve U.S. rights and the free use of space for national security and homeland security activities. Consistent with the guidance provided in the President’s National Space Policy, AVC/ESC also promotes international cooperation with allies and partners, as well as other established and emerging space powers, on space activities that enhance security, stability, and responsible behavior in space, protect the security of the United States and its allies, and advance U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives around the world.

Developing and implementing policies regarding cyber strategic stability: In coordination with the Office of the State Coordinator for Cyber Issues, AVC/ESC is working to develop and implement cyber confidence building measures (CBMs), such as participating in the development of cyber CBMs by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). AVC/ESC also supports the State Cyber Coordinator in clarifying international norms of behavior for cyber activities and promoting dialogue and cooperation on cyber strategic stability. Drawing on AVC’s deep experience with cross-cutting international security issues, AVC/ESC addresses issues arising at the intersection of outer space and cyber security.

Developing policies related to the security of the Arctic and Antarctic Regions: AVC/ESC is responsible for the implementation of the arms control inspection provisions of the Antarctic Treaty. The office also works closely with the office of the Special Representative for the Arctic.


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