On 15 March 2018, Representative Engel presented the Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act of 2018 to the United States Congress.
Update: May 20, 2019: After two years in the making, the Global Fragility Act passed the House of Representatives by voice vote. A coalition of more than 58 non-government organisations led by Alliance for Peacebuilding and Mercy Corps pushed to advance a bipartisan effort to support conflict prevention and stabilisation.
From Rep. Michael McCaul, US Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member, who also cited research from the Institute for Economics & Peace on the house floor:
“We are seeing unprecedented levels of instability, displacement and humanitarian needs around the world, in Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, South Sudan and elsewhere. Preventing conflict can save U.S. taxpayer dollars and make our country and the rest of the world safer.”
From Chairman, House Committee of Foreign Affairs, Eliot Engel:
“This legislation gets to the heart of what we want to see of our diplomatic efforts around the world, and preventing the start of violence in places where factors are ripe for its outbreak. We have learned a great deal about what drives violence and instability in what are called fragile states. We know it takes goals and strategies. We know it takes strong sustained investment over the long-term. We know it takes serious research and analysis and that it takes agencies across government working together towards the same goals.”
Feb 6, 2018: The members of Congress assert economic incentive, national security interests, as well as humanitarian action as motivation for the bill, citing the Institute for Economics and Peace’s data on global economic costs of violence of $14.3 trillion a year as compelling economic provocation to adopt the act. The act additionally states the significant detrimental effect violence and violent conflict have on the United States Government’s key national security challenges, most notably the way in which violent conflict allows terrorist organizations to recruit and thrive. Using World Bank data, the act also highlights violence and violent conflict as leading causes of displacement worldwide, subsequently driving 80% of humanitarian need around the world.
Following a review of the impetus behind the act, the bill calls for more tangible multilateral commitments to improve governance, promote inclusive development, and protect human rights. To execute this, the Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act of 2018 states that relevant leaders such as the Administrator of the USAID, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defence are to develop and submit to the appropriate congressional committees a 10-year US mission-led, interagency initiative relating to reducing and addressing the causes of violence and violent conflict in ten pilot countries. Each pilot country will establish 10-year goals, objectives, and plans of action for the US Government activities including development, security, and other assistance activities related to reducing violence.
To identify these pilot countries, candidate countries are to be considered under a specific criterion, evaluating factors including violent injuries and exposure levels within the country, levels of forcibly displaced persons due to violent conflict, and levels of gender-based violence and violence against children and youth. Each pilot country will have clearly established indicators in order to measure the causes of violence and violent conflict within the country. These indicators include, but are not limited to, improving inclusive, transparent, and accountable power structures, ensuring inclusive economic development and enabling business environments, and improving resilience to transnational stresses and shocks.
To ensure that each individual pilot country plan is implemented effectively, biennial reports will be held every two years until the full implementation of the 10-year individual pilot country plans is completed. These reports will include descriptions of steps taken to incorporate such initiatives into the designated individual pilot countries, accountings of all funding received and obligated to implement each individual pilot country plan during the past two years, as well as funding requested, planned, and projected for the following two years. The reports will then be discussed with appropriate congressional committees and relevant leaders such as the Administrator of the USAID, the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defence each year. The implementation of the Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act of 2018 holds great promise in effectively and comprehensively addressing and reducing causes of violence, violent acts, and fragility in fragile and violence-affected countries.