Global Fragility Act Introduced in Congress

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WASHINGTON — On March 7, The Global Fragility Act of 2019 was introduced by Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY-16), Michael McCaul (R-TX-10), Adam Smith (D-WA-9), Ann Wagner (R-MO-2), Bill Keating (D-MA-9) and Francis Rooney (R-FL-19). 

The Global Fragility Act seeks to address the root causes of violence and fragility in order to stabilize conflict-affected areas. The bill calls for the establishment of the Global Fragility Initiative — to be created by the Secretary of State, the Administrator of USAID and the Secretary of Defense — which will integrate ten-year plans to address fragility in priority countries and regions. Additionally, the bill would authorize the Complex Crises Fund to alleviate unforeseen conflicts when funding gaps occur in foreign countries.

The act seeks to identify countries and regions where fragility poses the greatest threat and whose conditions create a breeding ground for terrorist groups and criminal activity. Rep. Wagner, Vice Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, echoed this sentiment and outlined the impact on U.S. national security stating, “Conflict fuels humanitarian crises and instability, which can allow violent groups to develop strongholds. Prevention of conflict abroad also leads to a safer America at home.”

Reps. Smith and Keating emphasized the advantages of The Global Fragility Act and its national security implications. “The Global Fragility Act represents a significant step in bringing the defense, diplomatic, and development communities of the United States together… Better coordination within the U.S. government, and with civil society and international partners, is critical to tackling the complex challenge of preventing and reducing extremism around the world,” said Rep. Smith, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “As we know all too well from terrible attacks on the U.S. and our allies in recent decades, we are less safe here at home when systemic violence and instability takes hold around the world,” stated Rep. Keating, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy and the Environment.

The act cites USAID as the “implementing agency” in developing programming and coordinating humanitarian efforts. In addition to serving as national bureau for international aid, USAID is in the process of requesting the Bureau for Conflict Prevention and Stabilization (CPS), which would strengthen the agency’s capacity to help prevent conflicts and address fragility around the world. The bureau would achieve this by centralizing the efforts of the agency, which are currently hindered by a structure small, dispersed offices.

The Global Fragility Act would authorize the appropriation of funds from the Prevention and Stabilization Fund, administered by the Department of State and USAID, in order to prevent violence, stabilize conflict affected areas and provide assistance to areas affected by terrorism and extremism. While the bill would also authorize the Complex Crises Fund, it does not allow the use of this fund for lethal assistance or disaster relief. Rather, this fund is to be used to address unforeseen challenges and crises, including through the Global Fragility Initiative. The Global Fragility Act calls for biennial reports to Congress on the progress made by the Global Fragility Initiative, including reports on the priority countries and regions being addressed. The act would require the use of amounts from either fund to be reported to Congress.

During the 115th Congress, The Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act of 2018 was read twice by the Senate and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

The Borgen Project urges readers to contact their congressional representatives in support of this crucial piece of legislation. This template will send an email to both of your Senators and your Congressional Representative urging them to support The Global Fragility Act and help to address the root causes of violence and fragility.

– Ava Gambero
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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