The spending package for the 2020 U.S. budget included an exciting focus on worldwide peacebuilding: the Global Fragility Act.
What Is It?
The Global Fragility Act was introduced in hopes that it will provide an approach to preventing conflict that will include all aspects of the U.S. government. Areas in conflicts, especially violent ones, can sometimes see an increase in terrorism because of instability in the region.
The bill will allow “$200 million a year over five years for a Prevention and Stabilization Fund, and $30 million a year over five years for a Complex Crisis Fund to ‘prevent or respond to emerging or unforeseen foreign challenges and complex crises.’” (“Global Fragility Act” 2019). While this looks like a lot of money, it is worth investing in the prevention of conflict instead of waiting around for the conflict to escalate into something even more dangerous and costly.
Included in the bill is a 10-year strategy that focuses on increasing stability in areas impacted by conflict and increasing the United States’ effectiveness as a global leader in violence and conflict reduction. The strategy also aims to strengthen the connection with civilians living in these conflict-affected areas and increase the United States’ ability to protect against violent acts of terrorism.
The following government departments are involved in this bill: (“Global Fragility Act” 2019)
- The Department of State is responsible for drafting and leading implementation of the strategy.
- The U.S. Agency for International Development is responsible for prevention programs, and is the lead implementing agency for development and humanitarian programs. Any Department of Defense involvement in the Global Fragility Strategy must be approved by the secretary of state.
How Does It Help?
A co-sponsor of the bill, Democratic Senator Chris Coons, explains; “This legislation is a genuinely bipartisan effort to prevent terrorism from taking hold in the first place, and, by doing that, save American lives and taxpayer dollars. This bipartisan legislation will promote the stabilization of fragile environments where terrorists thrive, build peace, and maximize the impact of U.S. foreign assistance.” (“Global Fragility Act” 2019).
After the president signed the bill in December, the administration had 270 days to submit the bill’s strategy to Congress. It will detail the responsibilities of each government department and agency required to make the strategy successful.
Along with that, five countries must be selected to be the focus of this bill and strategy and the administration must include a ten-year plan for each. Of the five, two must not be involved in current conflicts, but be considered at risk for becoming involved in a conflict.
Addressing The Root Issues
A leader in supporting this bill, Richmond Blake (director of policy and advocacy at Mercy Corps), explained; “For too long, we’ve treated the symptoms of violence and not the causes,” he said. “It requires the U.S. government to select both stabilization and prevention countries, so this legislation is extremely helpful in terms of pivoting the U.S. approach to conflict prevention and really truly investing in prevention.” (“Global Fragility Act” 2019).
It is exciting to see the United States government turning their sight from treating the symptoms of violence to healing the causes of conflict, as mentioned above. As we’ve talked about here, involving human rights in the peacebuilding process is vital, and it seems like this bill will address that through building connections with civilians who are affected by these conflicts.