Peacebuilding: People Over Politics
Members of Congress are insisting that the U.S. needs to increase its investment in forward-looking efforts to prevent future violence.
FCNL has led efforts to resist the worst cuts to peacebuilding programs. We have also worked to stay focused—not chasing every headline, crisis, or tweet —so that we can be engaged when our action matters most.
The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (S. 1158/H.R. 3030) was introduced with strong bipartisan support.
The interagency Atrocities Prevention Board continues to meet and share information.
The Trump administration has proposed shuttering U.S. embassies and slashing diplomacy and development funding to free up money for military campaigns. Early drafts of the 2018 budget proposal eliminated peacebuilding programs that the FCNL community has spent more than a decade developing.
Supporting the Atrocities Prevention Board
The interagency Atrocities Prevention Board has, for the past five years, allowed a dozen agencies to cooperate in order to prevent violent conflicts and genocide. Under the Trump administration, the board’s future has been uncertain.
Despite the Trump administration’s initial rhetoric, FCNL has stayed engaged, making regular visits to the White House and State Department, to advise staff implementing these programs. We have helped brief political appointees and mobilized the humanitarian, development, policy and human rights community to engage with the administration.
Thanks in part to these efforts, the board has continued to operate. Agency staff continue to meet, and, largely outside of the headlines, the White House has continued to coordinate responses to threats of mass atrocities and genocide.
Focusing on Congress
Yet ultimately Congress holds the keys, not only to the continuation of the Atrocities Prevention Board but to funding and development of a host of effective programs that prevent violence and build peace.
In the first six months of this year, FCNL’s peacebuilding lobbyists advocated relentlessly for bipartisan legislation to authorize and fund the board’s work, require foreign service officers to receive peacebuilding training, and improve information-gathering by U.S. intelligence agencies about potential mass violence. Continuing to build on the bipartisan coalition that had introduced similar legislation last year, FCNL encouraged members of Congress to push for increased investment in peacebuilding programs.
Our advocates took part in dozens of lobby visits, often drawing in powerful allies from the faith, human rights, and development communities. In May, Sens. Ben Cardin (MD), Todd Young (IN), and Thom Tillis (NC) introduced the bipartisan Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, along with Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) and more than 20 others. For the first time, the House introduced a companion bill, led by Reps. Ann Wagner (MO) and Joseph Crowley (NY).
In the face of devastating violence and immense threats to civilian lives around the globe, members of Congress are stepping forward to stand up for effective ways to build peace and prevent violence. Now, we’re focused on encouraging Congress to schedule hearings on this legislation in the fall. Even before those hearings happen, we know that the legislation can signal to the administration the bipartisan support in Congress for preventing violence and can spur government attention to these issues. As Congress considers the president’s budget proposal, this bipartisan support can help protect and even grow U.S. commitment to peacebuilding in the years ahead.