USA: Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2021 deserves support


Special to CPNN from Anne Creter*

U.S. President Joe Biden introduced the big word “infrastructure” to the national discourse recently with his bold new bill to build concrete “infrastructures” to lift our country up from its arrested “development.” Because the U.S. suffers now from an appalling, escalating epidemic of (gun) violence and domestic terrorism, such proposed structures are urgently needed here. Sustainable development is necessary for our nation to be more safe, secure, healthy and peaceful. Because “sustainable peace” is a necessary condition for development, it is ALSO time now for the U.S. to build bold new governmental “infrastructures” for PEACE!

Infrastructures for Peace (I4P) are dynamic, architectural networks of interdependent structures, mechanisms, resources (including governmental departments, ministries and other forms such as commissions, academies etc.) which through dialogue and consultation, promote nonviolence, conflict prevention and peacebuilding in a society. They are the missing link ‘connective tissue’ between the desire for the Culture of Peace and actually making it real.

With Covid-19 still rampant our planet is at “The Great Turning” existential moment of choice. As we enter a new life-changing POST-PANDEMIC world, to survive society must develop the attitudes and responses this unchartered territory will demand. Therefore, now more than ever we MUST make “nonviolence” a solid foundation upon which our “new normal” will be built! As the pandemic breaks down dysfunctional old-paradigm structures, viable new alternative “nonviolent” ones exist at all levels that have been proven to promote peacebuilding to cultivate the Culture of Peace. To offset the destruction, we must intentionally construct the new epoch by building a global peace architecture to institutionalize peace; applying the science of nonviolence at all levels as the main organizing principle and priority of government. Peace is a basic human right and government currently is sorely inadequate in guaranteeing it for us.

Pending U.S. bill H.R 1111 just re-introduced in Congress on February 18, 2021 by Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13) is an excellent example of a governmental I4P. This historic, comprehensive, transformative bill calls for a cabinet-level Department of Peacebuilding to make peace an ongoing national focus. It addresses the interconnection of all life and the intersectionality of peace, justice, equality, planetary survival and other aspects of life. We know there are root causes of violence and root conditions of peace.  And that violence prevention saves lives and money, raising the quality of life for all.  This legislation is about addressing the root causes of violence at all levels to create the nonviolent Beloved Community.

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Question related to this article:

Is a U.S. Department of Peace a realistic political goal?

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Some 2021 provisions and updated language in the bill include:

* Confronting systemic racism in America to eliminate persistent racial inequities, including through a Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation.

* Peace education not only anti-bullying / anti-harassment, nonviolent conflict education, mindfulness and restorative practices, but also study of U.S. civil rights and human rights movements and contributions of its diverse ethnicities, races and religious communities.

* Developing violence prevention and de-escalation training for the general public both domestically and internationally, to provide peacebuilding tools and educational skills plus promote “sustainable peace” buy-in and awareness.

* Expanding upon language in prior DoP bills relating to arms control and nuclear weapons; includes health and medical concerns; calls for prevention of hate and a culture of violence and domination — including development of non-threatening community policing strategies, mindfulness and conflict de-escalation training skills among police and other public safety officers. 

* Eradication of dehumanization, genocide and mistreatment of individuals, including by human trafficking, infectious and other diseases. 

* Provides for wide-ranging studies relating to mass shootings; police violence; the impact of war and violence on soldiers, veterans and civilians; the impact of violence, racism and inequality on many conditions of peace and rule of law; and the impact of teaching nonviolent conflict resolution skills and social emotional learning. 

* Includes Tribal Governments among entities to be consulted and collaboration to prioritize those who are most impacted by the related programs. 

* Encouraging all countries to form infrastructures for peace within and among nations!

For more information:

Text of bill.

U.S. campaign.

Global Alliance for Ministries & Infrastructures for Peace.

The author, Anne Creter, is the UN NGO Rep for Peace Through Unity, GAMIP, and the Peace Alliance National Department of Peacebuilding Committee