Did you know that in addition to lobbying Congress, FCNL also lobbies the executive branch?
The PPWG advocates for specific actions the executive branch should take to prevent armed violence against civilians and respond to mass atrocity events.
FCNL coordinates the Prevention and Protection Working Group (PPWG), a coalition of over 250 organizations and experts focused on atrocity prevention and protection of civilians in conflict. With FCNL’s leadership, the PPWG advocates for specific actions the executive branch can and should take to prevent armed violence against civilians and respond to mass atrocity events.
After successfully lobbying Congress to pass the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Act (EWGAPA) and the Global Fragility Act (GFA), the PPWG has worked to ensure these laws are fully and properly implemented by the administration. Over the course of the last two years, PPWG members have collaborated in providing recommendations to ensure that key parts of the laws are carried out effectively.
To do this, the PPWG utilizes three major strategies:
1. Critical Relationship Building
The PPWG coordinator and members invest a lot of time in building close relationships with government officials from a wide variety of departments, agencies, and offices responsible for atrocity prevention. Representatives of the National Security Council, U.S. Agency for International Development, State Department, and Department of Defense regularly consult with the PPWG.
As a result of the PPWG’s briefings on specific conflicts, government agencies now actively seek the opinions and recommendations of PPWG members, welcoming ongoing conversations and feedback. Administration representatives especially appreciate the way PPWG members provide real-time information from their partners working on the ground in conflict settings and flag atrocity early warning risk factors.
The PPWG coordinator ensures that local peacebuilder perspectives are woven into briefings and that local conflict experts, who otherwise wouldn’t have a platform to brief the executive branch, are given priority to engage in discussions. The PPWG believes that conflicts cannot be equitably resolved without direct input from local peacebuilders, who have experienced and/or witnessed violent trauma firsthand and are heavily invested in diplomatic and long-term solutions.
2. Briefings for the Atrocity Early Warning Task Force
The PPWG holds quarterly consultations with the Atrocity Early Warning Task Force (“Task Force”), formerly known as the Atrocity Prevention Board. During recent discussions, the PPWG has provided assessments of the conflicts and risks for atrocities in Burma/Myanmar, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, Columbia, Ethiopia, Yemen, and Somalia. These assessments provide specific recommendations for what the U.S. government can do to protect civilian populations and reduce violent conflict.
The Task Force has praised PPWG assessments for their timeliness, relevance, and comprehensiveness. After the February 2021 consultation on Yemen, a State Department official reached out to a PPWG presenter to discuss people-to-people efforts to defuse the security crisis there. One of the group’s recommendations was to restore aid – which had been suspended since March 2020 — to all parts of Yemen, echoing the requests of FCNL’s Middle East lobbying team. A few weeks later, the Biden administration announced a policy shift to restore aid to all parts of Yemen.
3. Keeping Congress informed and helping maintain pressure on the administration
In addition to building strong relationships with executive branch leadership and policy experts, the PPWG keeps congressional offices updated on implementation of two major atrocity prevention and peacebuilding laws: EWGAPA and GFA. The PPWG also lobbies for additional funds for prevention and peacebuilding accounts. The information that the PPWG provides helps Congress hold the administration accountable for carrying out the laws as intended.
Advocates and lobbyists are using the PPWG’s country assessments in congressional visits and circulating them to the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees. Many Hill offices have interests in specific conflicts, often because of previous travel or because of diaspora communities in their states and districts, and they are much better able to take effective and constructive action after hearing directly from civil society what is happening in those countries.
When it comes to atrocity prevention, the PPWG is an essential bridge between civil society experts and the executive branch. Coalition members are committed to seeing prevention become a “core national security interest” of the U.S. government—not just in writing, but in practice. Through their briefings and reports, PPWG members are helping the U.S. government address the root causes of conflict and minimize harm to civilians.