It's NOT TOO LATE to sign! Citizens activists will be meeting with Senators and Representatives all week. Your signature will arrive at just the right time!
Early advocates of celebrating Mother's Day in the United States envisioned it as a day of peace, to honor and support mothers who had lost sons and husbands to the carnage of the Civil War. In 1870 - nearly 40 years before it became an official U.S. holiday in 1914 - social justice pioneer Julia Ward Howe issued her famous Mother's Day Proclamation, which called upon mothers of all nationalities to band together to promote the "amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace."
This May, at a time when our country is fighting a costly war abroad and our own communities are torn apart by violence and over-incarceration, it's time for Mother's Day to return to its roots.
We must let our leaders know that "Peace Wants a Piece of the Pie!"
In honor of Mother's Day, citizens all across the country will be delivering pies (along with a federal budget pie chart showing the miniscule current investment in peacebuilding) to the offices of Congressional Representatives and Senators to push for a greater federal investment in peacebuilding.
In particular, we are asking our elected officials to co-sponsor and actively push for two landmark pieces of peacebuilding legislation currently before Congress:
The Youth PROMISE Act (H.R. 1064 & S. 435): A bipartisan bill that funds and implements the best policy recommendations to reduce youth crime and violence through proven prevention and intervention practices, such as mentoring and after-school programs. The bill targets communities with the highest rates of youth crime and gang activity and empowers local communities with control over the use and oversight of resources, while holding communities accountable for their funding through measurement of cost, savings and effectiveness.
The Department of Peace (H.R. 808): The most comprehensive bill in Congress to date that creates a Cabinet-level department to prioritize violence prevention and peacebuilding efforts in the Executive branch of our government.
Whether you plan to visit your elected officials or not, you can make a difference -- and support those who are making office visits -- by signing the petition below!
Conflict, both at home and abroad, may be inevitable, but violence is not, and we can significantly reduce, resolve and prevent violent conflict by funding and implementing a comprehensive, coordinated approach that makes more effective use of the established tools of peacebuilding.
The Youth PROMISE Act (HR 1064 and S 435) funds and implements the best policy recommendations from across the political spectrum to reduce youth crime and violence through proven prevention and intervention practices, such as mentoring and after-school programs. All credible research indicates that evidence-based prevention and intervention programs for at-risk youth both reduce crime and save far more than they cost, by cutting down on expensive incarceration and criminal justice enforcement costs. We must engage youth in positive ways to keep them from joining gangs or engaging in other violent activities.
The Department of Peace legislation (HR 808) creates a Cabinet-level department to prioritize violence prevention and peacebuilding efforts in the Executive branch of our government. Domestically, the Department would develop policies and allocate resources to reduce the levels of domestic and gang violence, child abuse, and other forms of societal discord. Internationally, the Department would advise the President and Congress on the most sophisticated ideas and techniques to resolve international conflict and promote sustainable peace.
US Institute of Peace: $39 million
USIP is the independent, nonpartisan conflict management center created by Congress to prevent and mitigate international conflict without resorting to violence. USIP works to save lives, increase the government's ability to deal with conflicts before they escalate, reduce government costs, and enhance our national security. The Administration has proposed $37 million for the US Institute of Peace, a 6 percent reduction in funding. The Peace Alliance supports $39 million for the US Institute of Peace, sustaining FY 2012 Appropriations
Conflict Stabilization Operations: $56.5 million
This account funds the Civilian Response Corps and the new Conflict Stabilization Operations bureau. This year's budget request is $56.5 million, which is an increase from last year's enacted amount. This bureau focuses on preventing deadly conflict by assessing and planning an effective response to countries struggling with or at risk from conflict or civil strife. The Civilian Response Corps will be reduced from 144 members to 68 members as a cost cutting measure. The Peace Alliance supports $56.5 million for Conflict Stabilization Operations.
Complex Crises Fund: $50 million
This account provides much-needed, unprogrammed money for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to prevent and respond to emerging or unforeseen crises. $50 million is this year's budget request for the CCF, a $10 million increase from last year's enacted amount. In addition to the traditional use of CCF (used in countries/regions that demonstrate a high or escalating risk of conflict or instability), the Administration adds an emphasis on opportunities for "progress in a newly emerging or fragile democracy". This is a clear response to the Arab Spring. The Peace Alliance supports $50 million for the Complex Crises Fund.
The challenges of violence demand our full resources and attention. I ask you to support and co-sponsor this legislation as a big step toward creating a lasting peace in our nation and world.