From the outside, an outbreak of violence can seem spontaneous. However, even when a community seems relatively calm, the seeds of conflict can take root.
Where there is extreme inequality, oppression, marginalization, corruption, or resource scarcity, there is potential for conflict and violence.
Too often, these roots of conflict are not addressed until it is too late. Policymakers only pay attention after violence breaks out, often focusing on mitigating the damage and minimizing casualties. Following ceasefires and elite-driven peace processes, the seeds of violence often remain, dormant, waiting to grow again.
Peacebuilding is the critical tool in addressing the seeds of conflict and breaking cycles of violence at the local level. Peacebuilding is a long-term, often generational process that addresses the underlying causes of violent conflict by resolving injustices in nonviolent ways. It works to transform cultures and institutions that generate violent conflict, such as oppression, marginalization, gender inequality, and corruption, to enable sustainable peace to take root.
We are working to convince the U.S. government to put peacebuilding and violence prevention at the center of its foreign policy.
Quakers are called to “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14) and we understand that peace can be achieved only by peaceful means. We refuse to accept that these cycles of violence are inevitable. FCNL is working to persuade the U.S. government to move from conflict response to conflict prevention.
We encourage our leaders to address conflicts through diplomatic negotiation, humanitarian aid, promotion of human rights, and accountability for those who have violated human rights and committed crimes against humanity and war crimes. We ask our government to participate fully and in good faith in the work of the U.N. and other international organizations pursuing peace and justice.
However, peace cannot be dictated from the top down. It must also take root in communities and individuals. Therefore, through our peacebuilding policy work, we also urge support for locally-led peacebuilding in U.S. foreign policy and foreign assistance.
Fundamentally, we are working to convince the U.S. government to put peacebuilding and violence prevention — not the military— at the center of its foreign policy.
This transformation takes work. In the past decade FCNL has been at the forefront of these efforts and we have made progress on infusing a peacebuilding approach into U.S. foreign policy. We co-founded and now coordinate an influential coalition dedicated to preventing violent conflict and protecting civilians. We’ve led efforts to support development of new peacebuilding programs, approaches, and resources in USAID and the State Department. We’ve advocated for increased coordination throughout the government to make mass atrocity and genocide prevention a priority. In 2019, Congress passed the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocity Prevention Act as a direct result of tireless advocacy by FCNL’s staff and constituents.
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Quakers and Friends are changing public policy.