Global Fragility And Violence Reduction Act Passes House

Representatives Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Adam Smith (D-WA), Bill Keating (D-MA), and I applauded the House passage of our bipartisan bill, the Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act. This legislation would improve U.S. engagement in fragile and unstable countries to reduce violence and address the conditions that create safe havens for terrorists, criminal networks, and war lords.

“Around the world, levels of violence are at a 25-year high, driving massive instability. This is a global security threat, as fragile, unstable states are breeding grounds for criminals and terrorists,” said Rep. Engel, Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, on the House floor. “Over the years, we have learned a lot about what works to stabilize conflicts and prevent violence from breaking out. We need to update our government policies to implement those lessons. This bill does just that, by establishing an initiative to reduce fragility and violence that will align American policy and programs with best practices.”

Around the globe today, nations plagued by conflict and violence pose serious challenges for our interests abroad and security at home. Terrorists and rogue regimes have long exploited fragile states to operate beyond the rule of law and promote extremism. Meanwhile, the various departments and agencies of the U.S. government charged with conducting our foreign policy have responded to these challenges with ad hoc fixes that avoid addressing underlying causes of instability and lack interagency coordination and proper Congressional oversight. The Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act will fix these mistakes by requiring coordinated long-term strategies presented to Congress that target the core cause of violence and instability in trouble nations around the world. Through a smarter, planned process, our diplomats, military, and USAID staff can use our foreign aid dollars more effectively and efficiently, instead of endless assistance programs that only apply triage to persistent conflicts. I thank Ranking Member Engel, Rep. Smith, and Rep. McCaul for their hard work on this important bill.

“Today, the House took an important step to reduce worldwide violence and improve international stability. Violence and brutal conflict costs the global economy over $14 trillion a year and creates environments where large-scale international responses are needed to stop the struggle and deliver humanitarian aid. This legislation directs USAID, the State Department, and the Defense Department to work with other relevant agencies in crafting an integrated strategy in a number of these ‘fragile states.’ The strategy would focus on preventing the total breakdown of government, while also denying terrorist groups the unstable, fertile territory from which they recruit,” said Rep. McCaul, Chair of the Committee on Homeland Security. “By proactively prioritizing the necessary resources and with our federal departments working in unison, we will be better positioned to eliminate terrorist safe havens, stimulate global stability, and avoid large-scale international interventions.” 

“Instability across the world continues to lead to the displacement of millions of people. In response to the unprecedented refugee crisis caused by the rise in conflict, famine and disease, the U.S. must be a leader in addressing the root causes of violence and fragility. The Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act is a significant step in bringing together defense, diplomatic, and development stakeholders to better tackle these complex challenges,” said Rep. Smith, Ranking Member of the Committee on Armed Services.

“As a senior Member of the Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security Committees, it could not be clearer to me that to be safer here at home, we need to address the root causes of fragility that leave communities around the world vulnerable to conflict and extremism. That’s exactly what this bill does. It requires an interagency strategy and a pilot program so that our resources are not only better coordinated to have a greater impact, but so that we also learn as much as possible about how to best combat this problem,” said Rep. Keating, Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade and Co-Chair of the Congressional Counterterrorism Caucus. “We have lost so many lives and expended so much on conflicts that don’t seem to ever get resolved. Addressing fragility brings us closer to the root causes of these conflicts and we owe it to our servicemen and women, to members of our foreign service, and to the American people to do that. Time and again, our research has shown that focusing on fragility will be a much more effective way of creating more sustainable peace and security around the world.”

Background

Violence and violent conflict have become the leading causes of displacement worldwide, resulting in an unprecedented 68.5 million forcibly displaced people, while preventable violence kills at least 1.4 million people annually. Containing violence costs the global economy $14.7 trillion a year (12.4% of world GDP).

US National Security Strategies over the past 15 years affirm that America has a national security interest in better preventing and mitigating violence, violent conflict, and fragility. Lessons learned over the past 20 years show that doing so will require more clearly defined goals, strategies, and interagency coordination.

The Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act charges the State Department, Defense Department, and USAID with designating at least 6 priority countries or regions and implementing 10-year plans for addressing violence and fragility in those areas. The bill requires these departments and agencies to apply lessons learned and robust standards for measuring effectiveness and adapting programs based on results.

The legislation is endorsed by: Alliance for Peacebuilding, American Friends Service Committee, Bread for the World, CARE, Carl Wilkens Fellows, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), Center on Conscience & War, Charity & Security Network, Chemonics, Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness, Conciliation Resources, Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd US Provinces, Cure Violence, Educators’ Institute for Human Rights, Foreign Policy 4 America, Franciscan Action Network, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), Future Without Violence, Global Communities, Global Water 2020, Humanity United Action, i-ACT, In Defense of Christians, Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, InterAction, International Alert, International Civil Society Action Network, International Crisis Group (ICG), International Rescue Committee, Jewish World Watch, Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, Mercy Corps, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, National Latino Evangelical Coalition, Never Again Coalition, Nuru International, Pax Christi International, Pax Christi USA, Peace Direct, PRBB Foundation, Saferworld, Search for Common Ground, STAND, Stop Genocide Now, United Church of Christ, Women for Afghan Women, World Relief, and World Vision.

 

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