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'Department of Peacebuilding' Aims to Fight US 'Culture of Violence'

Announcing legislation she sponsored, Rep. Barbara Lee says, 'It is far past time' we address 'the pervasive presence of violence that has infected the lives of millions'

Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Rep. Barbara Lee

This month House Democrats led by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) introduced legislation to create a U.S. Department of Peacebuilding that would serve to "target the root causes of violence" as well as implement "broad measures used to prevent violent conflict and create sustainable peace."

The bill, H.R. 808, the “Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2013”, would charge the new department with "developing national strategies and programs for violence reduction both domestically and internationally."

“This culture of violence that we live in is unacceptable," said Rep. Lee. "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."

The head of the new department, the Secretary of Peacebuilding would create initiatives for "conflict prevention and dispute resolution," Lee adds. The department would "facilitate peace summits between conflicting parties, encourage community policing, and support efforts by local community and religious groups to reduce gun violence, racial and ethnic violence, and prevent violence against women and LGBT Americans."

The legislation also includes the establishment of a "peace academy," as opposed to the U.S. military service academies, as well as national "Peace Days."

The legislation follows in the footsteps of former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who introduced similar bills in past Congresses, calling for a national Department of Peace.

The full proposed legislation can be read here.


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