The world stands at the crossroads between the well-trodden road of rising authoritarianism and militarism and an uncharted path of peacebuilding and global cooperation. COVID-19 has exacerbated conflict and fragility around the world, leading to rising violence and decimated economies that will far outlast the virus itself. Beyond the challenges presented by the pandemic, the world continues to confront the consequences of climate change, extreme inequalities, and politicized hate. The State Department and USAID are facing these mounting global crises without the necessary resources to address them.
To effectively overcome these challenges, U.S. foreign policy needs a major reorientation. To this end, FCNL has issued a series of reports that offer recommendations to President Biden for his first 100 days and to Congress for putting peace at the core of U.S. foreign policy.
FCNL’s recommendations fall into six broad categories:
- Make peacebuilding a priority
Establish peacebuilding as a central goal of U.S. foreign policy.
- Do no harm
Ensure that arms sales, security assistance, and military operations do not escalate current conflicts, undermine peacebuilding efforts, or exacerbate human suffering.
- Strengthen the voice of peacebuilding and human rights in U.S. foreign policy architecture
Increase the power and authority of the offices and bureaus that focus on promoting human rights, peacebuilding, and justice.
- Increase staff diversity and capacity to build peace
Align hiring, training, retention, and promotion policies to attain a more inclusive and diverse workforce with greater peacebuilding expertise.
- Position peace at the center of U.S. foreign assistance
Apply a conflict sensitive lens to all humanitarian and development assistance and increase support to local peacebuilding efforts.
- Reaffirm the U.S. commitment to multilateralism
Rejoin multilateral organizations, pay U.S. dues in full, engage in multilateral diplomacy, and ratify and abide by international treaties.
Recommendations for Congress
In January 2022, the Friends Committee on National Legislation released, “Prioritizing Peace: Congressional Recommendations for a More Ethical and Effective U.S. Foreign Policy,” outlining a series of actionable, bipartisan proposals for Congress to reduce U.S. reliance on failed militarized approaches and to put peace at the core of U.S. foreign policy. These recommendations support more ethical and effective policies based in diplomacy, development, and peacebuilding.
Recommendations for President Biden’s First 100 Days
In December 2020, the Friends Committee on National Legislation Education Fund (FCNLEF) issued “Prioritizing Peace: A New U.S. Foreign Policy for a Post-COVID-19 World,” a series of recommendations for how the Biden administration should put peacebuilding at the core of its foreign policy during its first 100 days. Over its first year in office, the Biden administration has fulfilled several of these recommendations, including by increasing staff diversity and capacity to build peace and reaffirming the U.S. commitment to multilateralism.
The Prioritizing Peace: Congressional Recommendations for a More Ethical and Effective U.S. Foreign Policy report was written for FCNL by Ursala Knudsen-Latta, with editorial assistance from Diana Ohlbaum and project assistance from Rafaela Demerath.
The Prioritizing Peace: A New U.S. Foreign Policy for a Post-COVID-19 World report was written for the FCNL Education Fund by Ursala Knudsen-Latta, with research and writing assistance from Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow Daren Caughron and editorial assistance from Diana Ohlbaum and Shukria Dellawar. We wish to thank the following individuals for participating in interviews and sharing their expertise to help guide and inform Prioritizing Peace: A New U.S. Foreign Policy for a Post-COVID-19 World:
Prioritizing Peace: A New U.S. Foreign Policy for a Post-COVID-19 World was funded in part by Humanity United (HU), a foundation dedicated to cultivating the conditions for enduring peace and freedom.
The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the Friends Committee on National Legislation Education Fund. They do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization or individual.
For more information, please contact Ursala Knudsen-Latta, Legislative Representative for Peacebuilding at UKnudsen-Latta@fcnl.org.