A key Congressional Committee just took the first major step in years to insist the U.S. government needs to invest more in preventing violence and war and put money, staff time and interagency resources into addressing the root causes of insecurity and violent conflict.
In mid-May, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (H.R. 3030) introduced in the House by Reps. Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Joe Crowley (D-NY). This bipartisan bill helps to bolster U.S. government capacities to prevent mass atrocities and genocide and focuses on organizing government-wide efforts toward early prevention rather than late military action. The prevention of violence saves lives, saves money, and ultimately it is good for U.S. national security.
“It shall be the policy of the United States to regard the prevention of genocide and other atrocities as in its national security interests,” states the bill. The legislation adds that mitigating “threats to the United States security by address the root causes of insecurity and violent conflict” is a key part of this effort.
Movement on this legislation is a result of at least six years of dedicated efforts to lobby Congress and the administration to shift U.S. foreign policy towards prevention. At a time when the world is seemingly embroiled in crises and conflict, strong bipartisan congressional leadership is needed now, and this bill helps to prioritize efforts to address current conflicts and prevent future violence.
Furthermore, the House committee’s action demonstrates that Congress can play a leadership role while U.S. diplomatic and development tools are under assault. But this is just a first step toward the passage of this legislation. The bill will now move to the House floor for a vote and similar legislation in the Senate introduced by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Todd Young (R-IN), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) still needs to be considered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
We will continue our efforts to push for U.S. polices that take peaceful action to prevent violence, utilizes its diplomatic tools as a first option, and supports the work of local people building peace.