The Global Fragility Act of 2019 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 bill (H.R. 2116), which passed the House of Representatives in the 115th Congress last year, would focus America's diplomatic, development and security efforts on preventing the root causes of violence and instability around the world. It would require 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. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate earlier this year as S.727.
The measure would require these agencies to coordinate their efforts with global civil society. In addition, the legislation would:
- Identify where fragility poses the greatest threats to civilian security and select those countries or regions where the U.S. will pilot innovative diplomatic and programmatic action in support of the Global Fragility Initiative/Strategy;
- Improve its ability to measure, evaluate, and assess efforts to stabilize conflict-affected areas and prevent violence and fragility;
- Report to the Congress and the American people on a biennial basis on which tools are most effective for stabilizing and preventing conflict; and
- Authorize existing funds to support the Initiative/Strategy.
The bill was introduced by Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY), Mike McCaul (R-TX), Adam Smith (D-WA), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Bill Keating (D-MA), and Francis Rooney (R-FL) in the House, and Senators Christopher Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Todd Young (R-IN) in the Senate.
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. The Charity & Security Network is an endorsing organization to this legislation.