SEATTLE, Washington — The Global Fragility Act, a bill President Trump signed into law in December 2019, is an attempt to prevent global displacement that has displaced more than 70 million people worldwide. Through bipartisan effort, this law aims to adopt a multifaceted and strategic approach to stabilizing conflicted-areas globally, preventing violent extremism and promoting good governance. Since its enactment, what exactly does this legislation entail and what are the most up to date measures being taken by the U.S. in the face of these challenges?
The Global Fragility Act Framework
Fragility is defined by the Deputy Secretary of State as sources of “terrorism, political and regional instability, corruption, crime, intercommunal discrimination and violence, sexual and gender-based violence and displacement.”
Countries that most closely resemble this criterion for fragility will be assisted according to a “10-year plan” that is specific to their security and systematic challenges. The Global Fragility Strategy Plan will draw upon existing initiatives while coordinating with interagent, international and non-governmental actors to provide relief for the countries in need of destabilizing prevention measures.
These ongoing U.S. government initiatives include:
- Stabilization Assistance Review
- The Strategic Prevention Project
- The U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace and Security
- The Atrocity Early Warning Task Force
- The Elie Wiesel Act
The Act’s Multifaceted Approach
The Global Fragility Act follows a data-driven, multi-dimensional and evidence-based structure by evaluating the risk of conflict in the context of a country’s political, developmental and security connections. By utilizing empirical prediction methods, the U.S. government can effectively allocate aid to the countries and regions most vulnerable to conflict while advancing national interests. The results of one execution of this analysis designated the following countries and regions as a “priority” for stabilization:
- Lake Chad Basin Region
- Sudan/ South Sudan Region
Moreover, the following countries and regions are prioritized for prevention:
- Sahel Region
The Global Fragility Act also specifically aims to model the USAID Conflict Assessment Methodology, which implements a conflict assessment that helps protect and enhance existing development and humanitarian programs. The assessment guides USAID operational units and local entities on how to better judge the risks for armed conflict according to a country’s national security interests. This would allow them to execute their programs in a manner that establishes long-term peacebuilding without facing the harms of conflict and violent extremism.
Addressing Environmental Security in the Global Fragility Act
In August 2020, the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program hosted a conference to recommend making environmental security a focus of the Global Fragility Act, a key step in mitigating fragility and conflict which so often is the product of inequalities in basic health services.
Through the regulated management of natural resources, officials made the case that basic livelihoods and economic opportunities can be revived via improved sanitation and public health. Prioritizing environmental issues is especially important for delegitimizing terrorist organizations and violent extremists given that a significant amount of their profit and influence comes from the production and trade of mineral resources.
Including environmental security as part of the Global Fragility Act’s agenda is a promising direction to pursue in the road of liberating high-risk areas from instability. The Global Fragility Act’s commitment to achieving measurable and meaningful outcomes is evident in the U.S.’s strategic and long-term planning with international, governmental, non-governmental and local actors.
Research shows that every $1 spent on peacebuilding reduces the costs of conflict by $16. Rather than funding costly military responses that provoke more conflict and intra-state violence, the Global Fragility Act aims to efficiently allocate U.S. taxpayer money, securing stability and U.S. security and economic interests in the long run.