WASHINGTON — On May 20, 2019, the House of Representatives passed the Global Fragility Act, taking a significant step forward in the fight to end global poverty. While the U.S. has allocated more than one-third of its foreign aid to developing nations facing extreme violence and conflict, it has lacked a clear strategy to eradicate violence up until now.
The Global Fragility Act is the the first-ever whole-of-government effort to address the risk of fragility by targeting the root causes of violence. The bill outlines 12 points designed to address the causes of international instability, including empowering marginalized groups, expanding public-private partnerships, assigning specific roles to federal agencies and improving coordination between the U.S., foreign governments and international organizations. Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY-16), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, asserts that this bill “gets at the heart of what we want to see from our diplomatic and development efforts around the world: helping countries already torn apart by conflict to recover, and preventing the start of violence in other places where factors are ripe for its outbreak.”
What is the impact?
Many nations around the globe face constant violence and instability that not only threatens their livelihood, but also threatens U.S. national security. In areas where terrorism, corruption and criminal activity are considered commonplace, individuals lack the resources necessary to educate and support themselves. Violent conflict is now the leading cause of forced displacement worldwide. Sixty-eight million people are forcibly displaced, and preventable violence kills 1.4 million people annually. Furthermore, 134 million people require humanitarian assistance. Additionally, containing violence and violent conflict has cost the global economy $14.7 trillion a year. In order to effectively prevent international violence and fragility, the Global Fragility Act is designed to outline specific U.S. goals with clear intent and develop practical strategies.
What is the bill?
The Global Fragility Act aims to address the causes of violence, rather than treat the symptoms. The act is a bipartisan bill that makes it mandatory for the U.S. government to develop a 10-year plan addressing the core causes of international violence and fragility. Once the initiative is passed, it will be the first ever comprehensive government effort to address violence by working to actively stabilize areas affected by violence and ongoing conflict. Specifically, the Global Fragility Act would:
- Identify the at-risk countries and regions
- Develop strategies for prevention in vulnerable countries, also known as the Global Fragility Initiative
- Authorize the Complex Crisis Fund, appropriated by Congress, to provide vital, flexible funds to USAID
If passed, the bill will direct the State Department, Department of Defense and USAID to select a minimum of six regions around the world that are affected by violent conflict and create and implement 10-year strategic plans to address fragility in each region. The nations will be chosen based on violence-related deaths, violence exposure levels, percentage of forcibly displaced individuals, gender-based violence and violence against children. The Stabilization and Prevention Fund will be administered by the Department of State and USAID, while the Complex Crisis Fund will be administered by USAID to address unpredictable crises that may arise internationally.
In addition, both departments and USAID will be required to use robust measuring tactics to determine the efficacy of these programs and make the necessary adaptations to increase the international impact. The Department of State, Department of Defense, USAID and the Atrocities Prevention Board will be required to deliver biennial progress reports to Congress detailing which tools and tactics have been the most effective. The bill has been endorsed by a number of organizations, including World Relief, Future Without Violence, Alliance for Peacebuilding and Center for Civilians in Conflict.
Although the Global Fragility Act was passed in the House of Representatives, it needs to be passed through the Senate before it can be sent to the President and signed into a law. Therefore, it requires more support and advocacy. The Senators in positions to pass the Global Fragility Act are only an email, call or letter away. To get involved and voice your support for the bill, you can use this link to email Congress. Doing so will not only support efforts to strengthen U.S. national security but also contribute to reduction of terrorism, criminal activity and corruption around the world.
– Anna Lagattuta