Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2017 Recently Reintroduced in U.S. Congress
On February 16, 2017 Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13) reintroduced in the 115thTrump Congress an updated version of her bill to establish a cabinet-level Department of Peacebuilding (DoP). With 29 cosponsors and the most extremely polarized political climate ever, H.R.1111 now sits impatiently in the House Oversight and Governmental Reform Committee awaiting the light of day. Heavy lifting through the concerted grassroots advocacy of the national DoP campaign is needed to drive this bill forward. Sadly the legislation remains relatively unknown despite consistent reintroduction in each of the 9 millennial congressional sessions since July, 2001 when former Rep Dennis Kucinich first proposed it (two months before 9/11). Bernie Sanders was an original cosponsor back then from the House. A companion bill even made it to the Senate during its 2005 heyday.
The DoP idea has been around since America's founding. Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was first to propose a cabinet Peace Office when our Constitution (whose preamble prescribes “peace”) was first drafted. He had the wisdom to want balance to their newly created Office of War, one of only four original federal departments. Dr. Rush considered lack of a Peace Office a basic inherent flaw in our government. In 1935 the first DoP bill was introduced in the Senate. Then interest piqued again in the late ‘60’s / early ‘70’s, when various DoP bills miraculously received much political traction from both sides of the aisle. Ah, those were the (Vietnam War era) days!
It is lack of “political will” that makes the bill falter. What will it take to muster the political courage necessary to transform from our culture of violence to a culture of peace? Nothing short of challenging the destructive Military-Industrial-Complex worldview etched for eons in our collective-consciousness. Contrary evidence now abounds through the science of “nonviolence” showing that a comprehensive, systematic, practical, proactive, cost-effective peacebuilding approach reduces “violence” at all levels. Yet unwise, dysfunctional political obstacles persist. We, as citizens, must strengthen our resolve to lead the way advancing the power of “nonviolence” through a DoP, if we want our members of Congress to follow.
A DoP would better enable our government to fulfill its basic constitutional “peace” mandate if “nonviolence” were an organizing principle guiding all governmental actions. It would send a positive U.S. peace message to the world, as well as assist politicians and civil society alike in accessing the collective “political will” of our better angels to promote the global movement for a culture of peace. The UN has established (via resolution) government’s essential role in promoting a culture of peace. If “nonviolence” were a worldwide integral governmental policy objective, a sustainable culture of peace would more likely emerge.
For over a decade now, a growing global network urges governments worldwide to create various “infrastructures for peace” such as ministries, departments, offices, councils, academies etc. to focus exclusively on building peace structures that support “nonviolence” at all levels from inner to international to earth justice. Some countries already have them. (Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace -- www.gamip.org )
According to bill H.R. 1111, the federal U.S. DoP would be structured as follows: Office of Peace Education & Training; Domestic Peacebuilding Activities, International Peacebuilding Activities, Technology for Peace, Arms Control and Disarmament, Peacebuilding Information and Research, Human Rights and Economic Rights plus an Intergovernmental Advisory Council and a Federal Interagency Committee on Peace.
We need a cabinet-level Department of Peacebuilding (H.R. 1111) to:
- focus on preventing violence domestically and internationally
- expand civilian capacity for nonviolent conflict intervention
- fund the many community-based violence prevention “best practices”
- uniformly teach peacebuilding skills to American’s school children
- address root causes of terrorism to enhance homeland security
- support our military with complementary approaches & post conflict reconstruction
- mandate a U.S. Peace Academy to counter-balance all our vast war institutions
Please join the national DoP campaign. Global resistance to the unprecedented new Trump presidency is deep upon us. A DoP is urgently needed now more than ever at this precarious time with earth and democracy in the balance. How better to “resist” than to positively “insist” and “persist” for a DoP -- whose worldview of strength through peace challenges the entrenched Military-Industrial-Complex worldview of peace through strength. Nonviolent dialogue between these opposing worldviews is essential for reconciliation. DoP advocacy naturally facilitates such critical conversation. A new emphasis this year is on creating more state & local “infrastructures for peace” to expand our communications. Join the effort however you can -- no action to promote H.R.1111 is too small or unappreciated.
See Bill H.R. 1111 details at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1111.
Join monthly action calls hosted by Nat’l DoP Comm. & lobby Members of Congress by calling 202-224-3121. Email National Department of Peacebuilding Committee – Nancy@peacealliance.org
URL: bit.ly/dopcampaign & the Peace Alliance -- www.peacealliance.org
* * Sign Scotty’s & John’s civil society PeaceNow petition to the United Nations urging departments of peace worldwide so we can present it to the UN General Assembly this year!! http://www.peacenow.com/.
Written by Anne Creter (email@example.com) - National Department of Peacebuilding Committee Ally; Global Alliance for Ministries & Infrastructures for Peace; UN NGO Rep. Peace Through Unity Charitable Trust (www.peacethroughunity.info) and Global Movement for the Culture of Peace at the UN (www.gmcop.org)