Yesterday, Sept. 21, marked the International Day of Peace. It is a date designated by the United Nations as a time of nonviolence and universal cease-fire.
Peace Day coincides each year with the meeting of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly. This annual gathering of more than 130 presidents, prime ministers, and other leaders is taking place in New York this week.
The U.N. was formed in 1945, just two years after FCNL, with the goal of bringing nations together “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” This work is never easy.
Eighteen months into the war in Ukraine, the struggle for peace feels particularly difficult.
The United States has a significant role in ending the war in Ukraine. Unfortunately, Congress is locked into a false belief that the only possible way to support Ukraine is through unchecked military aid.
This reductionist narrative overlooks vital elements of effective conflict resolution and peacebuilding. Our militarized response has not brought Russia, Ukraine, or the world any closer to ending the conflict. It is time for a different approach.
You don’t have to take only our word for it. Yesterday, we had a conversation with peacebuilders working on the ground in Ukraine. Using nonviolent methods, they are protecting civilians, coordinating relief efforts, facilitating dialogue to reduce community tensions, and creating space for peacebuilding. Their request for all of us was explicit: Urge Congress to fund nonviolent support for Ukraine.
The work of advancing peace is never easy. Despite the challenges before us, we are called to listen deeply to Spirit and discern a path that promotes peace with justice. In the words of FCNL’s Bridget Moix, “Even when we do not have all the answers, we know war is not the answer.”
Friends are called to help build a foundation for world peace. This great undertaking depends on each of us working personally and together to support peace and to help prevent war.
A Big Week for Climate
As world leaders gathered at the U.N. Climate Ambition Summit this week, the Biden administration unveiled two promising new initiatives: A new Climate Corps to train more than 20,000 young people in skills crucial to addressing the crisis and a $4.6 billion grant program to help states, cities, and tribes address climate-related pollution.
Congress Slips Closer Toward Government Shutdown
With just eight days left to avert a government shutdown, Congress failed again this week to reach an agreement to pass legislation to fund the government. In the House, a small group of hardline Republican lawmakers are continuing to hold the federal budget hostage, demanding their colleagues agree to further spending cuts that would impact everything from anti-poverty programs to peacebuilding initiatives worldwide.
Release of Iran Hostages Shows Virtue of Diplomacy
On Monday, five Americans who had been unjustly detained in Iran were brought home to the United States. As FCNL’s General Secretary Bridget Moix said in a statement, the agreement to secure their release “shows the enduring power and wisdom of talking to one’s adversaries” and that “diplomacy is a virtue and not a weakness.”
Temporary Protections Extended for Some Venezuelan and Afghan Migrants
The Biden administration granted Temporary Protected Status to nearly half a million Venezuelan immigrants and asylum seekers and extended protections for Afghan refugees this week. This is a positive step, but as FCNL’s Anika Forrest wrote last week, more work must be done to create a racially equitable migration infrastructure that values all human lives.
Critical Voting Rights Legislation Reintroduced in House
Lawmakers in the House reintroduced the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—an essential piece of legislation to protect ballot access nationwide. The reintroduction comes as voting rights continue to be under attack, with more than 320 bills to restrict voting access introduced in 45 states since May.