Lobbying for Peace in Washington D.C.

Peace advocates have moved Congress to rare consensus around a new mandate “to help prevent acts of genocide and other atrocity crimes.”

Drafted with the help of Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), overwhelmingly supported in Congress, and signed into law by the president on January 14, 2019, the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018 calls for the enhancement of the government’s “capacities to prevent, mitigate, and respond to such crises.”

“Engaging with policymakers is absolutely vital to building a more peaceful, more just society, particularly in this moment in Washington,” said Theo Sitther, a 2013 CJP graduate and, until earlier this year, an FCNL lobbyist based in Washington D.C.

Quakers were historically involved in the abolishment of slavery, and founded FCNL 75 years ago to lobby Congress for a more peaceful and just society, which included advocating for civil rights and other causes. Its work on conflict prevention began after Congress authorized the president to invade Iraq 15 years ago.

Back then in Washington, “preventing violent conflict was a foreign concept,” he said, and so FCNL made it the focus of its lobbying efforts. Peacebuilding “takes time,” Sitther said, and requires “building mutually transformative relationships.”

“Even in the most divisive relationships that you can find, you’re going to find some common ground,” he said. “One of FCNL’s strategies has been, even where we can find just that ounce of agreement, we stake it out and make sure that we try to grow that common ground.”

CJP students collaborate with FNCL and other organizations on annual Lobby Weekend activities in Washington D.C.