Thank you, Joe, and congratulations to you, to Nancy Lindborg, to the whole USIP team – and our gratitude, actually, for your efforts to organize this event, considering the circumstances. I know this is a Herculean effort to pull something together along these lines virtually, and thanks for making sure that we’re continuing to execute on the plans we have around the [Global] Fragility Act. I want to thank you for mobilizing the wide range of perspectives that we’re going to hear from today, and also [inaudible] on understanding the linkages between extremism, conflict, and other peace and security issues. State Department recognizes your leadership in the Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States, as well as insights on the role that women can play in preventing conflict, and responding to – and also resolving – conflicts and crisis. I see my colleague, Acting [USAID] Administrator John Barsa, has joined us today as well. I know he’s going to share some remarks; John, thanks for joining us. And also, I want to briefly mention a set of leaders from the Department of State who have joined us today, as well – I hope it’s seen as a demonstration of our strong commitment to the [Global] Fragility Act.
Here with us today are Assistant Secretary Denise Natali from our Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, Director for Foreign Assistance Jim Richardson, and also our Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Kelley Currie. I want to thank my colleagues all for joining us today.
As you can see from the U.S. government participation, we do take quite seriously our commitment to fulfill the mandate of the Global Fragility Act, and we see it as an opportunity to really enhance our efforts in fragile states around the world. I saw this personally, in my experience, when I was going through the confirmation process [while] newly appointed as Deputy Secretary of State, I had a chance to meet in courtesy visits with a number of members of the Senate who had a bearing on that decision to confirm me for this job. And I heard many issues – many issues – old chestnuts, areas of disagreement, but what really struck a strong chord with me was in my meetings with Senator [Chris] Coons and Senator Lindsey Graham, the huge opportunity here for [the] Executive Branch and the Congress; for Democrats and Republicans to work closely together on an issue – shared commitment – and I have enthusiastically embraced that here, along with my many colleagues who have joined us today in the call.
The National Security Strategy that we published about a year and a half ago lays out that security and prosperity of the United States is standing in part on strengthening the resiliency of communities and states “where state weakness or failure would magnify threats to the American homeland.” That is the logic that sits at the middle of the [Global] Fragility Act. It’s in our interests, it’s not just consistent with our values to work with these states. This includes societies that empower women and recognize them as equal partners in decision-making – in turn making them less likely to fall into fragility and violent conflict – and are also… to pave the way toward sustainable peace in areas of conflict.
Areas of fragility can also be sources of terrorism, political and regional instability, corruption, crime, intercommunal discrimination and violence, sexual and gender-based violence, and mass displacements and refugee flows which strain the resources of countries around the world in normal times – and we do not live in normal times. Malign actors are also taking advantage of fragility to exploit resources, to undermine our democratic values, the rule of law, and economic stability.
Addressing the global challenge of fragility and conflict calls for a new, strategic-level approach. Previous efforts to prevent violent conflict and stabilize conflict[-affected] areas often were hindered by a lack of clearly defined policy goals. Ineffective mechanisms were in place for interagency and international coordination, and also, often times, these efforts failed because of insufficient host-nation commitment. The new Global Fragility Strategy, which the Department and the interagency are hard at work developing as a response to this legislation, will help us fill the gaps by [identifying] the underlying causes of fragility, violence, and conflict; articulating more effectively how to use U.S. taxpayer dollars; fostering greater transparency, accountability, adaptive and locally-based approaches; and demanding measurable and meaningful outcomes – all topics which we expect your diverse crowd here today to share their thoughts on as we determine, ourselves, the best way to proceed.
The [Global Fragility] Strategy will build and expand upon ongoing U.S. government initiatives such as the Stabilization Assistance Review, the Strategic Prevention Project, the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security, and the efforts of the Atrocity Early Warning Task Force – all to implement the – which serves to implement – the Elie Wiesel Act. We also plan to leverage lessons learned from the USIP Task Force to strengthen and inform the implementation of our programs.
The Strategy will rely upon data-driven analysis – something that is quite prominent in our thinking today, here at the State Department – and we will do that to assure that we develop targeted programs that can be most effective. At the same time, we want to use those efforts to also increase the contributions from other partners, to get them to match our own. We are committed to judiciously using U.S. taxpayer dollars to realize effective outcomes of foreign assistance and maximize burden-sharing. We need everyone helping.
The Strategy also will require the expertise of key stakeholders outside, like the people who have joined us today for this discussion: representatives from civil society, grassroots organizations, faith communities, academia, philanthropic institutions, the private sector, and international organizations.
So Joe, today, we look forward to hearing your ideas – the team’s ideas – and perspectives on how we can best implement the Global Fragility Act, the steps that we need to take to be effective in realizing opportunities and dealing with the challenges that lay ahead.
So again, as I started, I want to thank you, I want to thank the U.S. Institute for Peace for organizing this discussion and for everyone who’s joined us here today. And with that, I’ll turn the mic back over to you, Joe – thank you.