Archive for the ‘U.S. Department of State’ Category

Inspection of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, High Threat Programs Directorate

October 16, 2014 Comments off

Inspection of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, High Threat Programs Directorate (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of State, Office of Inspector General

Key Findings

+ The establishment of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, High Threat Programs directorate in 2013 enabled the Bureau of Diplomatic Security to enhance its focus on the security needs of overseas posts most susceptible to risk and threat.

+ The High Threat Programs directorate suffers from significant staffing gaps and position shortages. In order to continue to meet its goals, the Department needs to staff the directorate fully.

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CRS — State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2015 Budget and Appropriations (August 15, 2014)

September 15, 2014 Comments off

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2015 Budget and Appropriations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The annual State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs appropriations bill (also referred to here as “foreign affairs appropriations” or “foreign affairs funding”) is the primary legislative vehicle through which Congress reviews the U.S. international affairs budget and influences executive branch foreign policy making. (Foreign relations authorization and foreign assistance authorization legislation, required by law prior to State Department and foreign aid expenditures, are also available to Congress to influence foreign policy, but Congress has not passed either since FY2003 and FY1985, respectively. Instead, Congress has waived the requirement within the appropriations laws.)

On March 4, 2014, the Obama Administration submitted to Congress its budget request for FY2015. The original request for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs totaled $48.62 billion, including $5.91 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. The Administration amended this request on June 27, 2014, by increasing OCO funds to $7.27 billion and updating export assistance estimates, thus raising the overall total to $50.08 billion. The amended OCO funding level is 11.5% above the FY2014 estimated OCO funding of $6.52 billion. Of the total amended request, $17.09 billion is for State Department Operations and related agencies, a 7.8% increase from the FY2014 funding estimate of $15.86 billion. Much of the requested increase is for U.S. Contributions to International Organizations (CIO) and Contributions to International Peacekeeping (CIPA) accounts. For Foreign Operations, the Administration requested $32.99 billion, a 2.2% decrease from the FY2014 estimate of $33.72 billion.

Portfolio Assessment of the Department of State Internet Freedom Program

September 5, 2014 Comments off

Portfolio Assessment of the Department of State Internet Freedom Program
Source: RAND Corporation

The struggle between those promoting Internet freedom and those trying to control and monitor the Internet is a fast-paced game of cat and mouse, and the DRL Internet freedom program seeks to fund projects that promote preserving the open character of the Internet. Employing portfolio analysis techniques, the authors assessed DRL’s Internet freedom portfolio for fiscal year 2012–2013. The assessment showed good alignment between the State Department’s strategy and the cumulative effect of the 18 funded projects. Additionally, the portfolio was assessed to be well balanced with an unrealized potential for supporting emergent State Department needs in enlarging political space within authoritarian regimes. The assessment revealed that the investment in developing Internet freedom capacity and capabilities would likely have residual value beyond the portfolio’s funded lifespan, with positive, but indirect, connections to civic freedom. Moreover, promoting Internet freedom appears to be a cost-imposing strategy that simultaneously aligns well with both U.S. values and interests, pressuring authoritarian rivals to either accept a free and open Internet or devote additional security resources to control or repress Internet activities. Finally, the authors determined that the value of such analysis is best realized over multiple stages of the portfolio’s lifecycle. Among the authors’ recommendations were for DRL to enhance the synergy within the portfolio and among its grantees and to maintain a relatively balanced Internet freedom strategy that includes projects working on access, anonymity, awareness, and advocacy.

International Religious Freedom Report for 2013

July 28, 2014 Comments off

International Religious Freedom Report for 2013
Source: U.S. Department of State

In 2013, the world witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory. In almost every corner of the globe, millions of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and others representing a range of faiths were forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs. Out of fear or by force, entire neighborhoods are emptying of residents. Communities are disappearing from their traditional and historic homes and dispersing across the geographic map. In conflict zones, in particular, this mass displacement has become a pernicious norm.

In Syria, as in much of the Middle East, the Christian presence is becoming a shadow of its former self. After three years of civil war, hundreds of thousands fled the country desperate to escape the ongoing violence perpetrated by the government and extremist groups alike. In the city of Homs the number of Christians dwindled to as few as 1,000 from approximately 160,000 prior to the conflict. Elsewhere, in the Central African Republic, widespread lawlessness and an upsurge in sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims reportedly resulted in at least 700 deaths in Bangui in December alone and the displacement of more than one million people throughout the country during the year.

Anti-Muslim violence in Meikhtila, Burma, led to up to 100 deaths and an estimated 12,000 displaced residents from the area in early 2013. This event showed that mob violence against Muslims was no longer confined to western Rakhine State, where over 140,000 persons have also been displaced since 2012. Although the government’s overall human rights record continued to improve, organized anti-Muslim hate speech, harassment, and discrimination against Muslims continued, exploited by those seeking to divide and pit Buddhist and Muslim communities against one another, often for political gain.

All around the world, individuals were subjected to discrimination, violence and abuse, perpetrated and sanctioned violence for simply exercising their faith, identifying with a certain religion, or choosing not to believe in a higher deity at all.

Department of State Announces Online Publication of 2013 Digest of United States Practice in International Law

July 8, 2014 Comments off

Department of State Announces Online Publication of 2013 Digest of United States Practice in International Law
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Department of State is pleased to announce the release of the 2013 Digest of United States Practice in International Law, covering developments during calendar year 2013. The Digest provides the public with a record of the views and practice of the Government of the United States in public and private international law. The official edition of the 2013 Digest is available exclusively on the State Department’s website at: Past Digests covering 1989 through 2012 are also available on the State Department’s website. The Digest is edited by the Office of the Legal Adviser.

The Digest traces its history back to an 1877 treatise by John Cadwalader, which was followed by multi-volume encyclopedias covering selected areas of international law. The Digest later came to be known to many as “Whiteman’s” after Marjorie Whiteman, the editor from 1963-1971. Beginning in 1973, the Office of the Legal Adviser published the Digest on an annual basis, changing its focus to documentation current to the year. Although publication was temporarily suspended after 1988, the office resumed publication in 2000 and has since produced volumes covering 1989 through 2012. A cumulative index covering 1989-2006 was published in 2007, and an updated edition of that index, covering 1989-2008, was published in 2010.

Publication of U.S. Department of State Data on

June 20, 2014 Comments off

Publication of U.S. Department of State Data on
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Department of State is pleased to announce its first release of foreign assistance obligation and disbursement data on This is a significant milestone for both the Department and the U.S. Government, and delivers on key U.S. commitments in the U.S. National Action Plan for the Open Government Partnership, a network of 64 countries and civil society organizations dedicated to improving transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement, as well as commitments to the multi-stakeholder International Aid Transparency Initiative. With the addition of the Department of State’s financial data, users can access the website to examine detailed foreign assistance spending for nine agencies through serves as a mechanism for users to view foreign assistance data from across the U.S. Government and provides a wide variety of stakeholders with a tool to analyze, examine, research, and track U.S. Government foreign assistance investments. Foreign aid transparency can help recipient governments and interested stakeholders ensure more efficient use of aid, coordination among donors, and reduce opportunities for waste, duplication, and corruption.

Just Released — Trafficking in Persons Report 2014

June 20, 2014 Comments off

Trafficking in Persons Report 2014
Source: U.S. Department of State

“We each have a responsibility to make this horrific and all-too-common crime a lot less common. And our work with victims is the key that will open the door to real change—not just on behalf of the more than 44,000 survivors who have been identified in the past year, but also for the more than 20 million victims of trafficking who have not.

As Secretary of State, I’ve seen with my own two eyes countless individual acts of courage and commitment. I’ve seen how victims of this crime can become survivors and how survivors can become voices of conscience and conviction in the cause.

This year’s Trafficking in Persons Report offers a roadmap for the road ahead as we confront the scourge of trafficking.” — John F. Kerry, Secretary of State


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