Colombia's Class War
In 2016, Senators Ben Cardin, Bob Corker and 14 co-sponsoring senators of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution to help Colombia end its armed conflict of about 50 years. The violence of Colombia’s class war between the rebel militias Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) and right-wing paramilitaries has resulted in the displacement of three million people and the harming of more than eight million people.

The resolution reaffirms its commitment to the continued partnership between the United States and Colombia on issues of mutual security. These include counternarcotics cooperation, combating transnational organized crime and ensuring justice for those who caused indelible harm to our populations. In addition, it commands effort to end Colombia’s armed conflict and encourages informed public debate about the details of potential peace in advance of voter verification.

After deliberation, the United States Agency for International Development commenced the resolution called Justice for a Sustainable Peace (JSP). Responding to Colombia’s class war, JSP is a four-year commitment to expand Colombia’s justice institutions in order to serve justice at the local level. Therefore, it strengthens local civil society organizations that will increase citizen participation and support. The resolution is implemented in 45 municipalities in Cauca, Choco, Narino, Norte de Santander and Putumayo.

USAID explains that JSP promotes the rule of law in targeted areas by:

  • increasing citizen awareness of justice sector institutions and services
  • strengthening civil society engagement with government on justice issues
  • increasing citizen use of formal and informal justice services
  • strengthening ethnic justice and community conflict resolution mechanisms
  • developing effective judicial services and remedies
  • improving the effectiveness and transparency of land restitution judicial processes
  • addressing impunity for crimes such as gender-based violence, forced displacement, enforced disappearance, child recruitment, kidnapping and homicide.

Rebels and the government have been speaking on many topics, such as rural development, guaranteeing the exercise of political opposition and citizen participation, the end of armed conflict, drug trafficking and the rights of the conflict victims. Amplified communication between the people of Colombia and their government will surely produce mutuality. The methods of JSP will allow the resolution of abuses caused by Colombia’s class war and unify the people.

Tiffany Santos

Photo: Flickr

Global poverty champions

Recently, leadership is skyrocketing in congress on the subject of global poverty, especially highlighting several global poverty champions. But who are the people behind these victories? Here are Congress’s top ten global poverty champions:

1. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA)

Rep. Smith leads as the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee and Co-Chair of the Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance. In addition, he holds a position on The Borgen Project’s Board of Directors. Having the opportunity to travel the developing world, Smith sought to change global poverty by sponsoring the Global Poverty Act until President Obama made the measure a central aspect of his foreign policy. Smith proves himself a true ally for the world’s poor by supporting key global poverty bills such as the recent Global Food Security Act (GFSA) as well as the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability, M-CORE, Reach Every Mother and Child and Electrify Africa Acts.

2. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)

Rep. Reichert has served in the House since 2004 and sits on The Borgen Project’s Board of Directors alongside Rep. Smith. He also chairs the Subcommittee on Trade, co-chairs the Global Health Caucus, and has membership on the Caucuses on Hunger and Malaria. In 2010, he was appointed to the President’s Export Council to help guide U.S. international trade policy. In addition, he is the sponsor of the Reach Every Mother and Child Act, which will boost the U.S.’s involvement in ending maternal and child deaths in developing countries.

3. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)

Senior member of the House, Rep. Lee, effectively uses her membership on the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs to expand overseas assistance. As a result of her commitment, Lee twice served as the Democratic Congressional Representative to the United Nations. In 2011, Lee helped found the HIV/AIDS Caucus. Prior to the caucus’s formation, she sponsored or cosponsored every principal piece of HIV/AIDS legislation. Most recently, Lee put forth a resolution calling the eradication of childhood AIDS a global priority.

4. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)

With 35 years of congressional experience, Rep. Smith chairs the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations and co-chairs the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe as well as the Congressional-Executive Committee on China. In just this congressional session alone, he introduced legislation to end tropical diseases, increase exports to Africa and protect human rights in China. The Congressman also sponsored the successful GFSA which passed with bipartisan support.

5. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY)

As the Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, member of the Commission on Human Rights and the Tuberculosis Elimination and HIV/AIDS Caucuses, Rep. Engel is no stranger to the many concerns surrounding global poverty. He is especially interested in Latin America and the Caribbean. Not only did Engel lead the U.S. Delegation to the Summit of the Americas, he hopes to reduce poverty in the region through U.S. aid and economic development. In June, he presented a bill directing the State Department and USAID to boost free trade and economic diversity in marginalized Latin American and Caribbean communities.

6. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)

Named one of the most effective lawmakers in Congress by the Washington Post, Rep. Royce persistently defends the world’s poor. Prior to being the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, he presided over the Africa Subcommittee, where he established concern for the continent. Royce introduced the Electrify Africa Act to provide power to over 50 million Africans. In addition, he co-authored the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) that President Clinton signed into law in 2000 and Congress reauthorized for another 10 years.

7. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)

As the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and 2009 recipient of UNESCO Center for Peace’s anti-poverty award, Sen. Cardin does not hold back when it comes to addressing global poverty. He spearheaded bills to expand the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s activity in Africa, increase USAID’s use of science and technology to find poverty solutions, develop a rescue plan in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake, prevent genocide and end war crimes in Syria.

8. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)

Sen. Corker, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, serves not only the people of Tennessee but also the people of the world. Beyond being the sponsor of the Senate version of Electrify Africa, Corker authored the Food for Peace Reform Act, the Global Gateways Trade Capacity Act and the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act. Great acts which earn him a place amongst these global poverty champions.

9. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)

A member of the Foreign Relations Committee, State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and the Caucuses on India, AIDS and Malaria, Sen. Coons believes the U.S. should play a greater role in reducing global poverty. Coons strongly supported a number of important measures such as the GFSA, Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act and Reach Every Mother and Child Act. Furthermore, he introduced legislation to combat maternal and child deaths in Africa and to alleviate threats to security and human rights in Somalia. He was also the only member of Congress to visit Liberia during the Ebola epidemic two years ago.

10. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)

Sen. Collins is not as internationally-focused as her colleagues, but her commitment to global poverty initiatives is not lacking, earning her a place on this list of global poverty champions. Rated the most bipartisan member of Congress by Georgetown University and the Lugar Center, Collins received much support for her landmark Reach Every Mother and Child Act. Moreover, she initiated bills to develop a strategy to end Boko Haram’s terror and to partner the State Department with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

The Borgen Project commends these global poverty champions for their long-lasting devotion to ending global poverty. Are these your representatives? Make sure to thank them for their hard work.

Kristina Evans

Photo: Pixabay

Food for Peace Reform Act of 2014
On Tuesday, U.S. lawmakers introduced the Food for Peace Reform Act of 2014. U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., jointly introduced this legislation, which would end restrictions on international food aid programs.

“More than anything else, the mission of America’s food aid program is to save lives,” Coons said. “Our current system for acquiring and distributing food aid is inefficient and often hurts the very communities it is trying to help.”

1. Feed More People
The reformed food aid legislation would feed about 9 million people around the world.

2. Greater Efficiency
The legislation would make hundreds of millions of dollars more available per year. Currently, the food aid program has restrictions that require food to be produced in the United States rather than purchased locally. It costs more and takes months to reach people in disaster areas. It would also allow U.S. locally or regionally acquired commodities, cash transfers or vouchers to be used for aid.

3. Small Effect on U.S. Agriculture
U.S. food aid contributed merely 0.86 percent of total U.S. agricultural exports between 2002 and 2011 and just 1.41 percent of net farm income.

4. Let USAID Ship Food on Any Available Vessels
Currently, half of food aid must also be transported on U.S. vessels, which takes months and costs more. The cargo preference requirement means that aid is shipped at 46 percent higher than the market rate.

5. End Monetization
“Monetization” is a requirement that says 15 percent of all U.S. donated food must be sold first by aid organizations, which produces cash that funds development projects. Removing this would save 25 cents out of every taxpayer dollar, would feed 800,000 more people and make about $30 million per year more available. Many development supporters argue that monetization upsets local markets.

“At a time when our budget is strained and U.S. resources are limited, Congress needs to find ways to be more efficient and effective with every dollar,” Corker said.

– Colleen Moore

Sources: Reuters, Agri-Pulse
Photo: Africa Green Media