On April 1, 2022, the White House announced the much anticipated list of priority countries and regions under the Global Fragility Act (GFA), in addition to releasing the updated U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability. Priority countries include Haiti, Libya, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, and one region Coastal West Africa, including Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, and Togo. This is a major step towards implementing the GFA, legislation signed into law in December 2019 with strong bipartisan support from Congress.
As the Global Fragility Coalition shared in a statement welcoming the announcement, through the GFA, Congress “requires the U.S. government to center peacebuilding and conflict prevention at the heart of foreign assistance and diplomatic strategies in these priority countries and region.” The Strategy promotes a fundamental shift in U.S. foreign policy, creating a “whole of government” approach that serves “to prevent and mitigate conflict and build sustainable peace”. This is a welcome change from the military-first approach to foreign policy that has become the status quo.
C&SN is part of this broad coalition of humanitarian, peacebuilding, development and faith-based organizations that pushed for the passage of the GFA, and we applaud the administration for following through on its mandate to stave off conflict before it erupts, and for identifying priority countries and regions for GFA implementation. We look forward to working with the administration on its requirement of consultative engagement with civil society regarding implementation and prioritization of local leadership.
Too often, resources are deployed only to address the catastrophic consequences of conflict rather than to prevent it in the first place. Successful implementation of the GFA can help change that. By centering peacebuilding and conflict prevention, the GFA can also reduce humanitarian need globally, enabling humanitarian organizations to be more effective in meeting existing needs.
In an article in Just Security, the co-chairs of the Global Fragility Coalition (Liz Hume, Executive Director of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and Kate Phillips-Barrasso, Vice President of Global Policy and Advocacy at Mercy Corps) welcomed the naming of priority countries and the priority region, and offered recommendations for the U.S. government to support the successful implementation of the GFA moving forward. Their recommendations included calling on Congress to fully fund GFA implementation based on the already authorized “$200 million for the Prevention and Stabilization Fund and at least $30 million for a Complex Crises Fund, as well as $25 million annually for a separate Multi-Donor Global Fragility Fund.” They also called on the administration to begin implementing programming under the GFA before the end of this fiscal year on Sep. 30, and to make requests to Congress to ensure that USAID and the State Department have the funding necessary to support GFA implementation.
As the Global Fragility Coalition noted in its statement, GFA implementation will “ultimately save lives, improve taxpayer investments used for conflict prevention, and promote our national interests in a more peaceful world.”