Last night, the House passed H.R. 2410, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which authorizes resources to strengthen U.S. foreign policy efforts for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011. Earlier this week, STAND and the Genocide Intervention Network sent letters in support of the legislation, highlighting key provisions that will help strengthen our government’s commitment to addressing ongoing genocide and mass atrocities and to preventing them in the future. GI-NET interns also hand-delivered letters of support to key members of Congress.
The final version of the bill included provisions:
- Requiring the Secretary of State to develop and report on specific plans for the development of a government-wide strategy to strengthen the United States’ capacities for preventing genocide and mass atrocities, including an assessment of recommendations made in the recent Genocide Prevention Task Force report
- Ensuring that the United States will meet its financial commitments to the United Nations (U.N.) and other international organizations
- Allowing financing the refurbishment of helicopters for U.N. peacekeeping missions in Darfur, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other peacekeeping missions authorized by the U.N. Security Council
- Directing the President to develop and communicate to Congress a comprehensive strategy to address the ongoing crisis in Sudan
As a result of your efforts, stopping and preventing genocide and mass atrocities has become a major priority for Congress. Over the past few weeks, STAND chapters’ efforts have helped raise the profile of STAND’s Areas of Concern an Areas of Engagement in a big way:
- At this Wednesday’s confirmation hearing for Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs nominee Kurt Campbell, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia focused extensively on the crisis in Burma. Click here to watch.
- After hearing from STAND chapters all over the country, senators made genocide and mass atrocities a major focus of a May 20 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing entitled “Foreign Policy Priorities in the President’s FY10 International Affairs Budget.” Senator Barbara Boxer of California pressed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about efforts to address the crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Burma, Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland asked about the status of war crimes trial proceedings for the Former Yugoslavia, and Senator Jeanne Sheehan of New Hampshire also pressed Clinton on Congo and Darfur, focusing on violence against women. Click here to watch.
- Last month, STAND chapters called their senators to encourage them to press Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asian Affairs nominee Robert Blake about his plans to address the crisis in Sri Lanka. At the May 14 confirmation hearing, Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania spoke extensively about Sri Lanka in his opening remarks, and asked Ambassador Blake four separate questions about the crisis during the course of the hearing. The amount of attention devoted to Sri Lanka was especially impressive given that the portfolio of the nominees being confirmed in the hearing included Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Click here to watch.
- On May 13, Senator Barbara Boxer and Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin chaired a joint hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy and Global Women’s Issues and the Subcommittee on African Affairs entitled “Confronting Rape and Other Forms of Violence Against Women in Conflict Zones – Spotlight: Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan,” an idea initially suggested to Senator Boxer by Stanford University’s STAND chapter! The hearing included testimony from the ENOUGH Project’s John Prendergast, Save Darfur Coalition’s Neimat Ahmadi, and V-Day founder Eve Ensler. Click here for summary from Enough Said, the ENOUGH Project’s blog.
It’s clear that we’ve got the attention of our senators and representatives. Now let’s make sure we keep up the momentum! Look out for opportunities during the summer to continue pushing Congress to make Darfur, Burma, Congo, and long-term genocide prevention efforts a priority.