House Democrats propose Department of Peacebuilding

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California Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee has introduced legislation to create a federal Department of Peacebuilding that would cultivate peace and take on the causes of violence and conflict.

Lee’s legislation H.R. 808 “Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2013” also would create a Cabinet-level Secretary of Peacebuilding focused on creating peace and preventing violence.

“This culture of violence that we live in is unacceptable,” Lee said in a statement her office distributed earlier this month. “On our streets and across the globe, the pervasive presence of violence has infected the lives of millions, and it is far past time we address it as a nation. We invest hundreds of billions each year in the Pentagon, in war colleges, military academies, and our national defense universities all to develop war tactics and strategies.”

“Now we need that kind of investment in peace and nonviolence here at home,” Lee added.

The proposed department carries on an idea initially proposed by former Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who attempted to establish a Department of Peace.

“The Department of Peacebuilding advances the good work of my friend and former colleague Congressman Kucinich and has the potential to reduce suffering on a national and global scale while saving billions of dollars through violence reduction and increased economic productivity,” Lee added.

While the legislation’s text — which points out that more than 100 million people have died in wars during the 20th century and “at the dawn of the 21st century, violence seems to be an overarching theme in the world” — is not yet posted online. The Hill, which first reported on the legislation, obtained and posted a copy Tuesday.

The legislation would require the department to develop national strategies and programs to encourage violence prevention, and dispute resolution to reduce problems such as gun violence, racial and ethnic violence and violence against LGBT Americans and women.

The department would work with other agencies, sharing peace findings and assisting the international community in peace endeavors, including fostering conflict resolution initiatives.

The department would also create a four-year Peace Academy in the model of the military service academies, and offer grants and incentives for peacebuilding initiatives. The Secretary will also encourage Americans to observe and celebrate “Peace Days.”

The “Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2013” introduced Monday and Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, currently has eight original co-sponsors, all Democratic.

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