Center for International Stabilization & Recovery

CISR envisions a world where people can build peaceful and prosperous futures free from the repercussions of conflict and disaster.

We help communities affected by conflict and trauma through innovative and reliable research, training, information exchange, and direct services such as:

Mine Risk Education
Peer Support
Management Training
Scientific Research
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Posts tagged "Center for International Stabilization and Recovery"


I was the 2013–14 Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow in the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA). I first learned about this one- of-a-kind fellowship opportunity while working as an editorial assistant at James Madison University’s Center for International Stabilization and Recovery. I decided to apply to the fellowship, because it offered the opportunity to work on complex and exciting foreign policy issues regarding conventional weapons destruction (CWD), including humanitarian mine action and small-arms and light-weapons (SA/LW) destruction. Moreover, as a recent college graduate interested in international relations, I knew that working at the U.S. Department of State would provide a professional development opportunity like no other. 

Upon entering the fellowship, I was placed in PM/WRA’s Resource Management (RM) division. The RM division is responsible for planning and developing the office’s budgets, managing its finances, and, in fiscal year 2013, awarding approximately $142 million in grants, cooperative agreements and contracts to support CWD projects across the globe. During my time with RM, I received an in-depth education about the federal budget process, federal grants management, grants processing and financial management.

In addition to serving in the RM division, I also assisted PM/WRA’s Program Management division. Specifically, I was tasked with assisting the program managers for our Africa and Western Hemisphere Affairs portfolios. The highlight of my time in the Program Management division was when I participated in a program-review visit to Colombia, El Salvador and Honduras. During the trip, I observed demining operations in Colombia, a weapons-depot construction project in El Salvador and SA/LW destruction in Honduras. This trip allowed me to witness firsthand the lifesaving work that PM/WRA’s implementing partners conduct. 

My time as a fellow was one of the best professional development experiences I have had, and I am proud to call myself a former Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow. Although my time as Fellow has ended, I have been lucky to continue working in PM/WRA as a program analyst. I encourage anyone interested in working at the U.S. Department of State or in CWD to apply for this great fellowship opportunity.

JMU seniors, grad students and recent grads—apply now for the 2015–2017 Fellowship!


~ Chris Murguia (2013–14)

To read more about Chris’ experiences as FKD fellow, refer to his DipNote blog post.

CISR Promotes Disability Rights in Vietnam

In collaboration with Centre for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR) and Hanoi Disable People Association (DP Hanoi), Association for Empowerment of Persons with Disability (AEPD) organized the workshop “Promoting the enforcement of the Vietnam National Law on Disability” (NDL). 

There were many participants who are Persons with Disabilities, or from Disability Organization, NGO members in Hanoi, Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (DOLISA), Department of Transport and Department of Public Health. Especially, Economic Officer Mr. Joe Narus from United States Embassy in Hanoi and CISR Director Mr. Rutherford Ken also took part in the workshop. This is an opportunity for participants to listen to authentic contributive ideas about implementing the national law on disability from the voice of MOLISA’s representatives as well as share the experiences in advocacy for people with disabilities (PwDs) from departments. 

Mr. Ken Rutherford shared personal experiences of his trauma overcome and how he has made to advocacy for Disability Law in the US. After that, CISR Communications Specialist Amy Crockett has presented on building a public campaign to improve awareness of community in implementation of NDL. Based on the contributive ideas, the participants actively discussed about the topics related to the difficulties that PwDs are facing with, such as the unhealthy situation of PwDs, unimproved awareness of PwDs’ family in supporting PwDs to take part in all the social activities. Besides, it is very necessary for PwDs to receive the supports from departments to access the information, capital resources, vocational trainings, especially appropriate policy. Based on the real demands of PwDs, participants have created miniature billboards by so lively messages and pictures that directly impacted on target audience’s awareness. 

On behalf of PwDs in the workshop, Mrs. Duong Thi Van shares her ideas “Via the workshop, we can speak out our desires about an equal life in every aspects”. In the forthcoming days, similar workshops will be organized in other provinces such as Quang Nam, Quang Binh in order to provide the community, especially government in all levels with the necessary information about NDL, as well as develop a network of organizations operating for the Rights of Disability nationwide, so as to promote the enforcement of Vietnam NDL.

CISR Associate Director Suzanne Fiederlein and Grants Officer Nicole Neitzey attended the U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement planning conference for Iraq and Syria programs in Istanbul, Turkey, this week. While there, they met up with ERWTC Jordan graduate and P2R Lebanon participant Mohammad Al-Naqib, representing Spirit Of Soccer.

CISR Associate Director Suzanne Fiederlein and Grants Officer Nicole Neitzey attended the U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement planning conference for Iraq and Syria programs in Istanbul, Turkey, this week. 

While there, they met up with ERWTC Jordan graduate and P2R Lebanon participant Mohammad Al-Naqib, representing Spirit Of Soccer.

Landmine survivor in Mozambique - Photo J-J. Bernard 

This week in Mozambique, CISR looks forward to celebrating mine action achievements and examining the challenges ahead. 


AEPD hopes that after this training course each department will strengthen a commitment on the enforcement of Vietnam national law on disabilities.

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CISR raises peer-support awareness in USCRI panel on Syrian refugee crisis 

On Friday, May 23, CISR Trauma Rehabilitation Specialist Cameron Macauley participated in a concluding panel for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)’s annual National Network Conference. The panel, from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., featured presentations from three experts on Syrian refugees: Macauley; Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) Senior Advisor for Government Relations and External Affairs Jana Mason; and National Geographic journalist and activist Aziz Abu Sarah (also a director at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University). USCRI president Lavinia Limon facilitated the panel, which consisted of presentations and a 20-minute Q&A. Before introducing the panelists, Limon spoke of her visit to a camp in Jordan, stating, “I came away absolutely incensed at the terrible things these people had gone through and incensed at the national response. We’re living through a period where horror is happening … all while we’re at a conference.”

As the initial speaker, Mason provided an in-depth overview of the refugee situation in Syria to date. According to Mason, there are currently 2.8 million registered Syrian refugees, and UNHCR is prepared for 4 million before the end of the year. There is no end in sight to the conflict, and thus no foreseeable drop in refugee flow. In addition to these registered numbers, there are 6.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), totaling more than 9 million persons of concern. As a result, Syrian refugees and IDPs are UNHCR’s largest population of concern globally. UNHCR relief agencies and partners are forced to do vulnerability assessments when providing services. “You can only imagine how difficult it is making a vulnerability assessment when everybody is vulnerable,” Mason lamented. She also iterated several times that “this is a children’s refugee crisis.” Mason concluded, “we need development assistance now—not waiting until the crisis is over. These [host] countries need support in order to ensure that they do not close their borders to future refugees.”

In follow-up to Mason’s overview of the refugee crisis, Macauley provided an examination of psychological trauma in these refugees and how “refugees enter these camps with traumatic experiences, and then these camps provided additional layers of trauma.” When entering the camps, refugees may have post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses not currently being treated. Once there, refugees may not have access to services, or even if they do, “every aspect of socialization has been affected.” From Macauley’s research, he reports that many refugees do not feel safe even after reaching camps. The Syrian conflict has specifically seen an unparalleled amount and level of sexual violence, which Macauley explains that both sides use as a weapon. He then discusses the cultural barriers impeding healing and notes that “in a society where victims of violence are further victimized, women are forced to bury their experiences.” In order to help, Macauley has facilitated trainings on providing peer support in other countries, and CISR hopes to implement this in Iraq.

The last speaker, Abu Sarah, presented the results of an article he wrote for National Geographic: “Five Things I Learned in Syrian Refugees.” Abu Sarah covered five revelations:

  1.  Many refugees are not counted.
  2.  The host countries are in crisis.
  3. Children’s education is neglected.
  4. Many Syrian refugees are still in Syria.
  5. Refugee camps are like a prison.

Abu Sarah expounded upon each point and provided anecdotes from his experiences traveling to multiple camps and conducting interviews. In his presentation, he urged the conference audience to “listen to the stories, because sometimes the numbers can be overwhelming. When it gets that way, really go back and listen to the stories, because everybody has one, and it reminds us that these are more than numbers—they’re people.”

Lastly, the session featured a Q&A panel. Several questions for Macauley focused on the role and balance of psychological support, based on the tumultuous conditions. In response, Macauley emphasized the importance of peer support, which could be carried wherever peer mentors traveled, thus hopefully resulting in a larger impact. 

Sami Noble
James Madison University Class of 2015
Master of Public Administration
Intern at Center for International Stabilization and Recovery
Are you passionate about mine action or explosive remnants of war? If so, it is time to start writing articles for Issue 18.3 of The Journal of ERW and Mine Action (to be published fall 2014). The submission deadline is 1 July 2014.
This issue will focus on program managementimprovised explosive devices, and the Pacific Islands. We are also looking for case studies, research and development articles, and sumbissions documenting work in the field.
For full details on how to submit articles, please download this PDF, or visit
Please send articles to

Week 2 of SMC 2014: Administrators and Participants Absorb History and Culture of Tajikistan

Today begins the second week of the regional Senior Managers’ Course in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. After a very successful first week, course administrators and participants had a great weekend enjoying the Ethno-Jazz Festival in Dushanbe, featuring artists from around the region who specialize in modern interpretations of ethnic instruments. We also took a trip to the Museum of Antiquities on Saturday to learn about the long and rich history of the Tajik people. Sunday morning, CISR Associate Director Dr. Suzanne Fiederlein and I walked down the main Rudaki Avenue with three participants and through the beautiful rose garden in the city’s center to see the statues of famous historical figures scattered around the area.

Also on Sunday, JMU College of Business professor Fernando Pargas visited the Ismaili Centre with a group of participants. One of five in the world, His Majesty the Agha Khan built the Dushanbe Ismaili Centre as a place of study, worship and community building for the Ismaili Shia population of Central Asia as well as anyone else who wishes to use its facilities.  

Sunday night topped off with the end of the Ethno-Jazz Festival held at the Serena Hotel—the same hotel hosting SMC course participants and administrators. It was nice to get a free show!

This week will be busy and exciting! Today, we will cover topics in gender and mine action, and hear from several groups of participants as they present on their organization and the challenges facing mine action in their communities.

Tomorrow, the Tajikistan National Mine Action Centre and CISR will host a Donor Forum with main mine action donors and implementing partners in Tajikistan. From the donors, we will hear their perspectives on potential projects and organizations to which they donate. Implementing partners will speak about their point of view regarding actionable ways to deliver on donor expectations.

Following the forum in the morning, other implementing partners will discuss their perspectives on the transition to national ownership. Tajikistan is in the process of nationalization, and the current trend in mine action is one toward the nationalization of programs.

SMC will take a field trip Wednesday to the Afghan border to visit the Swiss Demining Foundation’s worksites there. We will also meet with Tajikistan’s first all-female demining team, who work with Norwegian People’s Aid.

Although this week got off to a rainy start with a cloudy morning today, we look forward to the exciting week ahead!

~ Paige Ober, CISR program assistant

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs has awarded a grant for over $350,000 to plan and conduct a regional training course May 12-30 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The course is for senior managers working to safeguard communities by clearing landmines and unexploded ordnance. The training course, conducted by the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR) at James Madison University and the Tajikistan Mine Action Centre, brings together senior representatives from organizations based in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, and Yemen.

In order to strengthen the organizational management capacity of local organizations, and to develop a regional network among participants, CISR integrates business management principles and practical field experience to develop a specialized and targeted curriculum. Through this course, the Department will help countries more effectively clear landmines and other unexploded ordnance, saving lives, preventing injuries, and helping set the stage for reconstruction and economic development.

Read more …