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[Foreign Policy\“Pathway to PEACE”]
Ben Rhodes: “Congresswoman Omar is putting forward an ambitious and comprehensive package that outlines progressive approaches to some of the most important issues facing the United States and our world today."
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) unveiled the Pathway to PEACE (Progressive, Equitable, and Constructive Engagement), a package of seven bills aimed at reorienting U.S. foreign policy.

The package outlines a bold progressive vision to rethink the country’s approach to foreign policy by centering human rights, justice and peace as the pillars of America’s engagement in the world, and making military action a last resort. Prioritizing multilateralism and diplomacy over multilateralism. The plan takes into account the experiences of people directly affected by conflict and the long-term consequences of U.S. militarism, acknowledges the damage done when we fail to live up to international human rights standards and is sincere about our values regardless of short-term political convenience.

As a child, I survived war. I have firsthand experience with how destructive war can be—and I see how our continuous involvement in foreign conflicts is not making our country any safer. It is costing lives, destroying future hopes and dreams, and damaging our reputation in the world,” Rep. Omar said. “I believe in a world where there are no young girls living through war, and no nations that are being destroyed. I believe that when the United States says it champions human rights, democracy, and peace, we should mean it. America has led the world in standing up for human rights before. It’s time for us to seize the mantle of leadership again.”

“No matter who is President, Congress has a crucial Constitutional duty when it comes to matters of foreign affairs. As in our domestic policy, the US has far too often not matched our ideals with our actions. When we are better partners and advocates for our values abroad, we become more secure and prosperous at home.”

Congresswoman Omar is putting forward an ambitious and comprehensive package that outlines progressive approaches to some of the most important issues facing the United States and our world today - from global migration to the overuse of sanctions; from the promotion of human rights to the protection of the most vulnerable,” said Ben Rhodes, Former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama and Co-chair of National Security Action.

The US lags behind many other countries in supporting international human rights protections. With an administration that’s a no-show on human rights, it’s important that Congress press forward with resolutions in support of the most vulnerable, including children, migrants and victims of atrocity crimes,” said Andrea Prasow, Acting Washington Director at Human Rights Watch.

“Our vision for a more progressive U.S. foreign policy is one that recognizes that our values do not stop at the water’s edge; prioritizes diplomacy and multilateralism over militarism; holds all countries, including the U.S., to the same standards; and advances human rights, human security, and justice around the world. ‘A Pathway to PEACE’ is the very embodiment of these principles. We commend Rep. Omar for putting these principles into practice, and call on other members of the House to immediately co-sponsor these important pieces of legislation,” said Kate Kizer, Policy Director at Win Without War.

CVT applauds Representative Omar for this important effort to align fundamental aspects of U.S. foreign policy with human rights standards and principles," said Scott Roehm, Director of the Washington Office at the Center for Victims of Torture. "As an organization that provides rehabilitation services to refugee and asylum-seeking torture survivors, and works to end torture worldwide, it is especially refreshing to see a focus on justice and accountability. Equally important, as the Global Migration Agreement Act recognizes, to lead effectively on the international level the U.S. must first get its own house in order. In the refugee and asylum contexts, that means restoring and further strengthening our various protection systems such that they truly reflect global need. Congress’ voice on these issues is critical, especially now. We hope other members will join Representative Omar in promoting a foreign policy approach that lives up to the values the U.S. has long espoused, and in recognizing that oftentimes that work starts at home."

“Rep. Ilhan Omar's Pathway to Peace proposal is a welcome addition to the public discussion on global peace and security," said John Glaser, Director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. "Refreshingly, the proposal calls for more robust Congressional oversight of economic sanctions imposed unilaterally on other countries by the executive branch. Equally important, it calls for legislation that would impose conditions on providing security aid and arms to regimes that commit human rights abuses. Finally, Pathway to Peace encourages the United States to bring itself into conformity with international standards and conventions - to practice what we preach around the world, so to speak. We may be at an inflection in US foreign policy. Bold yet practical ideas like these are precisely what's needed.“

The package includes the following bills.

Global Peacebuilding Act: Authorizes a transfer of $5 billion from the Pentagon’s Overseas Contingency Operations budget to the State Department to create a new, multi-lateral Global Peacebuilding Fund.

Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers Act: Establishes red lines based on internationally recognized gross violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law. Once a country crosses those lines, it automatically triggers a prohibition on security aid of any kind, arms sales including those controlled by the Commerce Dept. (tear gas, etc.), and exchanges with U.S. law enforcement.

Global Migration Agreement Act: Instructs the State Department and U.S. Ambassador to the UN to take the lead on creating a binding international agreement on global migration.

Congressional Oversight of Sanctions Act: Requires a joint resolution of Congress to approve sanctions issued under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) within 60 days of being back in session after the sanctions are announced, and requires Congressional approval to renew existing sanctions.

YouthBuild International Act: Replicates the highly successful domestic YouthBuild program – which helps disadvantaged youth obtain the education and employment skills they need to achieve economic self-sufficiency.

Resolution on the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: The United States is the only country in the world not to have ratified the UNCRC. Protecting the rights of children is fundamental, and we should be a world leader on this issue, which we can’t be unless we’re a state party to the Convention.

Resolution on the Rome Statute, and the International Criminal Court: The United States has been a leader on international criminal justice since Nuremberg, and our hostility towards the ICC has always been at odds with our commitment to the rule of law, accountability, and to the principle that no one is above the law. We need to send a strong message in support of international criminal justice.

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