Building a Pathway to Peace
FCNL advocates for policies that enable the U.S. to prevent, reduce, transform and help people recover from violence in all forms.
Creating a more peaceful world has always been at the center of FCNL's work. From work for disarmament and international peace in the 1940s to support for nuclear disarmament, diplomacy, and the structures of peacebuilding today, FCNL has lobbied Congress to seek peace and pursue it.
At a time when military force plays an outsized role in U.S. foreign policy, FCNL is persistently working to support proactive strategies that can prevent violence -- and gaining congressional support for these policies.
Pushing to Prevent Genocide and Atrocities
FCNL's lobbyists work with Congress and the State Department to build the United State's capacity and investment in peacebuilding. FCNL leads efforts to pass the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, a bipartisan bill to enhance the government's capacity to prevent, mitigate, and transform violent conflicts around the world.
Proving that Diplomacy Works with Iran
Forty-two senators voted to support a nuclear deal with Iran, enabling it to take effect and reducing the chances of another U.S. war in the Middle East. FCNL helped mobilize grassroots advocates, nuclear experts, and faith groups to advocate for this deal, which President Obama negotiated in 2015.
Resisting War With Syria
With the U.S. dangerously close to military action in Syria, FCNL visits 400 congressional offices in a two-week period, pushing for a diplomatic solution. Ultimately, Congress refuses to grant the president a new Authorization for Use of Military Force to attack Syria, and the U.S. and Syria eventually agree on a deal to remove Syria’s chemical weapons.
Focusing on Atrocities Prevention
Responding in large part to lobbying led by FCNL, President Obama announces the creation of an Atrocities Prevention Board to help prevent mass violence. This board provides a forum for military, intelligence, and diplomatic leaders to collaborate and develop strategies to prevent genocide and mass atrocities.
Preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States. Our security is affected when masses of civilians are slaughtered, refugees flow across borders, and murderers wreak havoc on regional stability and livelihoods.Presidential Study Directive 10
Advocating for a New START on Nuclear Weapons
FCNL directs the advocacy that leads the Senate to ratify the New START Treaty. The Treaty aims to significantly reduce the number of deployed nuclear weapons in Russia and the United States. Constituents, Senators, and the White House use swing lists of legislators developed by FCNL as the strategic basis for much of their advocacy work.
Stopping New Nuclear Weapons
FCNL leads lobbying efforts to oppose funding for a new nuclear weapon, the "Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator." Thanks to FCNL's lobbying, and following intense debate in Congress, the Bush administration withdraws their budget request for the new weapon, and the Senate drops funding for the bomb from the budget.
Asserting that War Is Not the Answer
The day after the 9/11 attacks, FCNL issues a statement urging the U.S. not to meet violence with more violence. We display this message on our building and on bumper stickers: “War Is Not the Answer.” Over the next decade, tens of thousands of people take up this message, expressing their opposition to the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and search for a way to break cycles of war and violence.
Organizing Against Arms Sales
Congress passes the International Code of Conduct Act, which calls for the U.S. to adopt a code of conduct on arms transfers. Since 1993, FCNL has led the coalition of NGOs and advocacy groups working to develop a strict set of arms export criteria that would prevent nations from providing military assistance or exporting weapons to countries engaged in abusive practices.
Standing Against Chemical Weapons
FCNL is instrumental in helping to ratify the UN Convention on Chemical Weapons. This UN arms control treaty outlaws the production and use of chemical weapons and leads to the destruction of 93% of the world's declared stockpile of chemical weapons.
Talking with the Soviets
FCNL organizes the U.S.-Soviet Working Group, which compiles a draft "Exchange for Peace Resolution" in consultation with members of Congress and State Department officials. FCNL lobbies the U.S. ambassador and the State Department to consider the draft resolution ahead of the Reykjavik summit in Iceland in 1986. Ultimately, the draft resolution contributes to a framework for thawed relations between the Soviet Union and the U.S.
Opposing Arms Sales
Lead by the tireless efforts of a full-time intern, Catherine Shaw, FCNL spearheads the interfaith opposition to a massive arms sale to Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Shaw coordinates congressional testimonies and a letter signed by fourteen religious organizations. Though the sale was narrowly approved, FCNL's nonpartisan, faith-led approach sways many Senators to oppose the deal, and FCNL's warnings about military aid prove prescient as U.S.-led militarization of the region contributes to violence throughout the 80s and 90s.
Building Support for Human Rights
FCNL submits detailed proposals on human rights to Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford ahead of the 1972 election. After his election, President Carter identifies human rights as a core priority in his administration, and FCNL works closely and busily with his administration for the next two years on human rights policy.
Addressing Conflicts at Sea
FCNL's Sam and Miriam Levering lobby Congress and the U.S. government on the importance of the Law of the Sea Treaty. Sam Levering testifies before Congress in 1972 on the subject, urging the U.S. to "extend the area of peace." The Leverings also help shape the treaty from FCNL's office. In 1980, U.S. Ambassador Eliot Richardson thanks the Leverings for their "dedicated, constructive, resourceful, patient, persistent, and cheerful" efforts. Though the treaty opens for signatures in 1982, the U.S. has not yet ratified it.
Thawing Relations with China
Gene Boardman, FCNL's Friend in Washington, conducts nearly 200 meetings with Members of Congress and Administration officials during his year-long residency. He convinces House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Clement Zablocki (WI) to hold the first congressional hearings on U.S.-China Relations. Senator J. William Fulbright (AR) follows suit, hosting U.S.-China hearings in the Senate Relations Committee that prove pivotal in the path to détente between the U.S. and China.
Helping Congress Create the Peace Corps
Rep. Henry Ruess (WI), the Peace Corps legislative champion, calls FCNL’s role in the Peace Corps’ creation “pivotal.” Since the program's creation, more than 220,000 young Americans have served in 141 countries.
Defeating Mandatory Military Training
As the Truman and Eisenhower administrations push for required military training for young men, Quakers lead the push to defeat these proposals in Congress. FCNL's decade-long campaign results in the defeat of military training legislation in the House in 1952 and 1955, putting an end to compulsory training efforts.
Starting Out Strong
American Friends Service Committee head Clarence Pickett testifies on November 4 on FCNL's behalf before a Senate committee about the need to provide relief to Europe. The testimony comes just one day after FCNL opened its Washington, DC office with three staff members.
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Organizing Quakers to Influence U.S. policies
In the midst of World War II, 52 Friends from 15 Yearly Meetings gather to consider Friends' ability to influence U.S. government decisions related to war and peace. Out of this meeting in Richmond, Indiana, the Friends Committee on National Legislation is born. E. Raymond Wilson is named the first Executive Secretary.
We ought to be willing to work for causes which ... cannot be won in the future unless the goals are staked out now...E. Raymond Wilson