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International peacekeeper discusses reforming war-torn regions

PULLMAN, Wash. - An international peace advocate shared her experiences with war, its aftermath and people affected by armed conflicts Tuesday at a Washington State University Foley Institute talk.

Colette Rausch, associate vice president of global practice and innovation at the United States Institute of Peace, a federally funded Washington D.C.-based organization that studies global conflicts, said the U.S. is lucky to have a developed justice system.

“You’re very blessed with what you have here,” Rausch said. “You take it for granted.”

Rausch got her start as an attorney, and became involved with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2001. Her assignment with OSCE, an intergovernmental security organization, took her to Kosovo, where she helped establish a new and reformed justice system.

Speaking on her work in other countries, Rausch said she was tasked with trying to make sure no one escaped the rule of law, but encountered many challenges. This was especially true in Kosovo, which was recovering from a war that had ended two years prior to her arrival.

“A war does not completely end,” Rausch said. “There is no end to hostility and violence.”

She began working for USIP after returning from Kosovo, where to tackled “serious crimes.” She described these as crimes that threaten to tear the fabric of a country apart, when there are only a few delicate threads of peace holding it together.

Having gone on many missions throughout the world, Rausch talked about the power vacuum she observed after major victories. When a party in power has been successfully deposed, there is a “golden hour” when everyone celebrates their victory and fails to notice someone else taking power.

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