The Global Fragility Act of 2019 (GFA), which establishes the first-ever comprehensive U.S. government approach to preventing global violence and instability, was signed into law December 20, 2019 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020. (H.R. 1865). The House of Representatives approved the package on December 17 by a vote of 297-120, followed two days later by the Senate with a 71-23 vote.
The GFA, as a stand-alone bill, previously passed the U.S. House of Representatives on May 20, 2019 on a voice vote. In debate leading up to the vote, House sponsors Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) spoke in favor of the bill. “This legislation gets at the heart of what we want to see from our diplomatic and development efforts around the world, helping places already torn apart by violence to recover and preventing the start of violence in other places where factors are ripe for its outbreak,” Engel said.
The measure focuses America’s diplomatic, development and security efforts on preventing the root causes of violence and instability around the world. It requires the Departments of State, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Department of Defense to “coordinate on a global initiative aimed at stabilizing conflict areas and preventing the violence and fragility that allow terrorists, criminal networks, and war lords to take hold in the first place,” according to a House statement.
The GFA aims to end violence through studying and investing in ending the conditions that allow violence to thrive. Specifically, the measure:
- Focuses U.S. foreign assistance on preventing violence and conflict in fragile countries
- Saves U.S. taxpayers money by preventing the outbreak of conflict rather than the costlier approach of containing it
- Increases transparency and accountability by mandating biennial reports to Congress and the American people
- Strengthens research to identify the foreign assistance programs and diplomatic approaches that are most effective at preventing violence and conflict
- Dedicates $1.15 billion over the next five years for conflict prevention and peacebuilding in countries at risk of violence and conflict
The Global Fragility Act’s lead sponsors were Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) as well as Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Michael McCaul (R-TX), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. A bipartisan group of 26 senators and 20 representatives co-sponsored the bill.
The legislation comes at a time when violent conflict has forcibly displaced a record 68.5 million people and costs the world an estimates $14.76 trillion annually. Charity & Security Network is an endorsing organization for this legislation.