In 2013, bipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would have removed barriers to providing aid and promoting peace created by U.S. counterterrorism policy.
The Humanitarian Assistance and Facilitation Act (HAFA) of 2013, introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and co-sponsored by Reps. James McGovern (D-MA), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Randy Weber (R-TX), did not pass. It was supported by more than 60 prominent civil society organizations, including the American Red Cross, Care USA, Oxfam America, and World Visiton. In their joint statement they said, “With HAFA, we can focus on doing what we are called to do: helping people survive and overcome adversity, no matter where in the world they live.”
The language of that 2013 legislation is the basis for new proposed legislation, the Humanitarian Assistance and Peacebuilding Protection Act (HAPPA). There are no legal differences between HAFA and HAPPA. The ‘Findings’ section of the bill and title were adjusted to better reflect the need for peacebuilding in conflict-ridden areas.
Historical Information About HAFA:
HAFA in the Media
- 77 Organizations Endorse HAFA
- Catholic Relief Services: Urges Passage of Act that Will Help Get Aid to Civilians
- World Policy Blog: U.S. Counterterrorism Laws Block International Humanitarian Aid
- New York Times: Antiterror Measures Can Block Humanitarian Aid
- VIDEO: BBC’s Mary Harper: HAFA would permit aid groups to reach civilians without fears of prosecution (at the 7:55 mark)
- In-Depth Background: Safeguarding Humanitarianism in Armed Conflict: A Call for Reconciling International Legal Obligations and Counterterrorism Measures in the United States
What Aid & Peacebuilding Experts Said About Passing HAFA:
“HAFA frees up agencies to be pure to the humanitarian basis and operate based on need,” says David Newton of Conciliation Resources, an international peacebuilding organization
“With HAFA, we in the humanitarian community can fulfill our mission to provide lifesaving assistance and help the most vulnerable people overcome adversity, no matter where in the world they live,” says Neal Keny-Guyer, chief executive officer of Mercy Corps.