Kony 2012 Updates
On October 7th, our friends at Invisible Children announced their intent to bring thousands of activists to Washington, DC on November 17th for MOVE:DC, the next chapter in the KONY 2012 campaign where representatives from LRA-affected governments will join leaders from the US and others to join in a conversation about what is needed to see an end to LRA atrocities. In the meantime, we will ask them to commit to follow through.
We’ll be working behind the scenes to make MOVE:DC a success, and we encourage everyone to join. But a crucial piece of the follow through that’s still needed is leadership from Congress. That’s why – the day before MOVE:DC – we are helping organize LOBBY:DC, and you should join.
This less-advertised initiative will allow participants to meet directly with their elected leaders in Congress to advocate on behalf of those most affected by LRA violence, and we expect big results. Past lobbying efforts have heralded some of our most important achievements, including passage of the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act and millions in new funds to help keep people safer from LRA attacks.
The KONY 2012 campaign has resulted in some big commitments from world leaders. So far, both President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney have expressed their support, and with promises from the African Union, United Nations, and European Union to see this conflict to an end, there is reason for hope. These commitments could lead to urgent measures to help arrest Joseph Kony and improve protection of vulnerable civilians.
By engaging our leaders in person, we can help make sure they now follow through. See you in a few weeks in DC.
Members of the US Senate continue to press for action to see LRA atrocities ended. Last week, a Senate resolution that shared the goals of the KONY 2012 campaign passed unanimously, with 47 Senators adding their names as official cosponsors.
In a press release, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), the lead sponsor of the resolution and Chair of the Africa Subcommittee, commented, “Kony and the LRA have terrorized Uganda and its neighbors in central Africa for more than two decades, tearing families apart and destroying communities… I applaud my colleagues for unanimously passing this bipartisan resolution condemning the crimes committed by the LRA and supporting ongoing regional efforts to bring Kony and top LRA commanders to justice once and for all.”
The lead Republican sponsor, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), added, “This resolution reinforces my important legislation that we passed in 2011 called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act… Bringing Kony and the LRA to an end will remove a major destabilizing force while providing better security for the people of Africa.”
The resolution expresses the unanimous approval of Senators of steps that the U.S. is currently taking to help bring LRA leader Joseph Kony to justice and permanently end the group’s atrocities, including the deployment of U.S. advisers to central Africa. It outlines further steps that need to be taken, including heightened diplomacy in the region, new funds to construct roads and communications infrastructure in LRA-affected areas, and expanded support to ongoing efforts by regional militaries to pursue LRA commanders and protect civilians.
Elsewhere this past week, the Senate subcommittee that establishes the defense budget also approved new funds to expand U.S. programs that help detect the locations of LRA groups, information which is shared with regional governments. Resolve previously joined partner groups in calling for the allocation of such funds, which surveillance efforts that are helping track down Joseph Kony and other LRA commanders and preventing attacks on civilians.
A press release from Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), the Chair of the Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee, notes that the Senate’s version of the 2013 defense budget includes “$50 million, as authorized, for increased [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] in support of counter-Lord’s Resistance Army operations in Central Africa.” The funds were included with support from the top Republican on the committee, Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), as well as leaders on the Armed Services committee, including Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), John McCain (R-AZ), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK).
As we have reported, if these funds are included in the final 2013 budget that passes both the Senate and House of Representatives, it would roughly double current funding for U.S. programs that detect LRA locations through aerial surveillance.
Photo credit: Office of Senator Coons
Every once in a while, we are given a chance to have a big impact with very little effort. Right now is one of those times.
Though enormous progress has been made in the past year, efforts to bring Joseph Kony to justice and end LRA atrocities are now stalling due to disagreements amongst governments in central Africa. High-level diplomacy from President Obama — alongside partners at the United Nations and African Union — is needed to help defuse tensions. Yet so far, such leadership has been missing.
But a bipartisan letter is now circulating amongst Members of Congress that calls for President Obama to step up and weigh in personally with regional governments to get things back on track. For that letter to make a splash with the President, it needs your Representative’s name on it. With as little as a single phone call, you could make that happen.
Click here for instructions, and take 30 seconds to make that call today. The deadline for signatories is the end of the week, so let’s get on it. We’ll report back soon with the results.
As we’ve mentioned previously, disagreements amongst the governments in LRA-affected areas are impeding efforts to arrest Kony and other senior LRA commanders and end the group’s violent attacks. Now, a bipartisan group of Members of Congress are urging President Obama to join leaders from the United Nations and African Union in weighing in personally to help defuse tensions.
A letter drafted by Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Ed Royce (R-CA) — now circulating amongst Congressional offices for further endorsements — calls for President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to meet with Presidents from each of the LRA-affected countries during the upcoming United Nations General Assembly, when each of the leaders will be gathered at the U.N. this September. Several dozen Members of Congress have reportedly already signed the letter.
The text of the letter welcomes steps taken by the Obama Administration so far, including the deployment of military advisers to the region. But it expresses concern that a “lack of cross-border cooperation between the countries affected by the LRA is jeopardizing the ability of the U.S. advisers to achieve their mission.”
Specifically, it notes that “the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to deny the Ugandan military, the primary partner of U.S. advisers, access to Congolese territory where LRA violence is most acute,” and that “Allegations that Joseph Kony has crossed from the Central African Republic to South Darfur remain unsubstantiated, but contribute to escalating tension between Sudan and South Sudan.”
This is precisely the kind of political leadership that Resolve has urged, and is needed to see Kony arrested and LRA atrocities ended. Activists should get in touch with their Representative in Congress to build further support for the letter. We’ll have instructions for how to do so postedsoon.
Last week, while Resolve was busy hosting the delegation in Washington, DC, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was busy passing the Kony 2012 Resolution. The legislation that was introduced by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) had 47 cosponsors when it passed through committee, thanks to your diligent letters, phone calls and lobby meetings. This is a huge step forward. We really appreciate Senators Coons and Inhofe’s leadership on this issue.
The resolution aims to do the following:
• Support the efforts of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and other regional governments, as well as the African Union and United Nations, to end the threat posed by the LRA;
• Support continued efforts by the United States to strengthen the capabilities of regional military forces deployed to protect civilians and pursue commanders of the LRA; as well as to enhance cooperation and cross-border efforts to increase civilian protection and provide assistance to populations affected by the LRA;
• Call on the U.S. to utilize existing funds for ongoing programs to enhance mobility, intelligence, and logistical capabilities for local partner forces engaged in efforts to remove Joseph Kony and his top commanders from the battlefield;
• Call on the U.S. to prioritize civilian protection and to utilize existing funds for ongoing programs aiming to protect civilians by expanding physical access and telecommunications infrastructure to aid the flow of information, supporting programs that encourage LRA combatant defections, rehabilitating children and youth affected by the war and reconnecting them with their families;
• Call on the President to keep Congress fully informed of U.S. efforts and to work closely with Congress to identify and address critical gaps in efforts to counter the LRA.
This passage mirrored last week’s passage by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. We are making excellent headway. Thanks to everyone who called or met with their members of Congres. We are seeing the fruits of your labor. Now that the resolution has passed through the committee stage in both houses, the bills await a vote by the full House and the full Senate.
Thanks again. We’ll keep you updated.
Last month, Evelyn Apoko, a former LRA abductee who is currently living in the United States as part of the Strongheart Fellows program, wrote a personal letter to leaders in Congress asking that a resolution on the LRA now before Congress be amended. She specifically requested that Members of Congress add a provision to the resolution calling for increased precautions to be taken to avoid endangering children within the LRA during military operations.
On Thursday, when the House Committee on Foreign Affairs voted to pass the resolution, they also accepted Evelyn’s suggestion and adopted her amendment. In her letter, Evelyn shared from her own personal experience:
One day when I was still with [the LRA], I was with a group of other abducted children when we heard the loud noise of helicopters and then explosions as bombs dropped all around us. It was the Ugandan Army, trying to kill the rebels. After the bombing, children lay all around me, dead and dying. Two little children that I was helping care for died, along with their young mother and many others. Sadly, it was the children who were killed, while the commanders all escaped[…]
I do believe that Kony – and all like him – must be stopped. I want him to face consequences for his actions, for the many many lives he has destroyed… However, I do have one very important request as you consider what you will collectively do on behalf of the children of Africa: I ask that you keep the faces of the abducted children in your hearts, not the face of Joseph Kony[…]
My main concern is these children don’t have any way to get out at the moment, and they will suffer when the military attacks Kony. The bomb that almost took my life was an air bomb attack meant for the LRA. It’s a thin line between the lives of the children and the life of Joseph Kony.
We were grateful for the chance to help Evelyn deliver her letter to Members of Congress, and celebrate this success with her. As a result of Evelyn’s advocacy, the text of the resolution now includes a provision calling on the U.S. to help regional governments “incorporate precautions to protect abductees within LRA ranks, especially children and women, when carrying out operations against the LRA.”
We thank Representatives McGovern (D-MA), Royce (R-CA), and Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) for their leadership in adopting this important amendment. Soon, the Senate will take up their version of the resolution, and we’ll be asking them to do the same.
Thursday, a key committee in the House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for increased action by the Obama Administration to stop LRA atrocities. H.Res 583, known as the “KONY 2012 Resolution” and drafted with Resolve’s support in the wake of the KONY 2012 campaign, was passed unanimously in the committee. It now awaits a full vote in the House of Representatives.
H.Res 583 demonstrates that Congress remains far ahead of the President in seeking action to address the LRA crisis. The text of the resolution welcomes the deployment of U.S. military advisers to help protect civilians and bring top LRA commanders to justice, and calls for additional measures to ensure the effort can succeed.
Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), the original sponsor, shared his excitement with our team. “The Foreign Affairs Committee’s approval of this measure is a great step forward for human rights. The LRA resolution sends a strong message that the United States remains determined to end the LRA’s reign of terror.”
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who chairs the Committee on Foreign Affairs that passed the resolution, acknowledged the important role of activist voices. “I want to especially thank all of the young student activists in my District and throughout the country for their continued and tireless efforts to raise awareness about Kony’s atrocities… H.Res. 583 echoes current law and continues the momentum ignited by so many young people across the country and I am pleased to support this resolution.”
Since March, when the resolution was introduced, thousands of activists across the country have sent e-mails, made phone calls, and attended meetings with their elected representatives to show support for the resolution. As a result, it has accumulated 70 bipartisan cosponsors.
Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA), who introduced the resolution alongside Representative McGovern, expressed confidence the effort would succeed.
“The LRA continues its reign of terror in central Africa – abducting, killing and mutilating. It is long past time that Joseph Kony and his commanders be stopped once and for all… Months ago, many did not know the name Joseph Kony – now millions do. A large spotlight has been cast on his evil. He will be found. He will get justice,” Royce said.
Representative Howard Berman, the top Democrat on the Committee, emphasized the need for U.S. efforts to end LRA atrocities to adopt a comprehensive approach. “This resolution underscores our support for U.S. and international efforts to stop the LRA and bring Joseph Kony to justice. It also emphasizes the importance of regional cooperation, local capacity building, civilian protection, and recovery programs, which will be necessary even after Kony and his allies are removed from the battlefield.”
A companion resolution, S.Res.402, awaits action in the Senate as well.
Last week, a key Senate committee authorized significant new funding for efforts that help pinpoint locations of LRA fighters attacking civilians in central Africa. The move represents yet another way that leaders in Congress are working to end LRA atrocities, spurred to action by the KONY 2012 campaign.
According to a press release from Senator Carl Levin, the Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act authorizes up to $50 million “to enhance and expand intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support to Operation Observant Compass – [the U.S.'] ongoing operation to support central African forces conducting operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army.”
LRA groups are currently operating in remote and largely inaccessible areas of Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan. Governments in the region lack the tools to track LRA movements and anticipate where they may attack. As we wrote to President Obama in the KONY 2012 campaign manifesto, expanding surveillance efforts are a critical way the U.S. can help protect people from LRA violence and apprehend Joseph Kony and other LRA commanders.
For security reasons, the specific ways that the U.S. uses such funds are not made public, so it is not possible to know exactly how these funds would be implemented. In Resolve’s latest policy report, “Peace Can Be: President Obama’s Chance to Help End LRA Violence in 2012,” my teammate Paul reported that the U.S. is currently flying airplanes with advanced sensing technology over areas of central Africa where the LRA is operating. Information gathered from these surveillance efforts is channeled to regional forces working to protect civilians and pursue the LRA. It is also shared with civilians themselves to help prepare for the risk of an attack.
The Senate Armed Services Committee is chaired by Senators Levin (D-MI) and McCain (R-AZ). We applaud their leadership, as well as the support of Senator Inhofe (R-OK), who is a member of the Committee and a longtime champion for an end to LRA atrocities.
It’s important to note that there are still a few steps before the funding can be implemented. This $50 million authorization needs to make it into the final version of the bill, and be passed by both the House and Senate. Then we need to make sure that this funding is included in the 2013 Defense Budget. In the coming weeks, we’ll be working hard to make sure this happens, but we’re thrilled that the Senate Armed Services Committee has taken this first major step.
This week, we received some big news as the committees in Congress that set America’s foreign aid budget released their proposals for 2013. Thanks to the committed activism of young people across the U.S. and support from a few key champions in Congress, we’re now very close to securing $10 million for life-saving programs in communities targeted by LRA violence.
At a time when the U.S. foreign aid budget faces the constant threat of major cuts, it is a remarkable achievement to have both houses of Congress in agreement that the U.S. should be investing new funds to help stop LRA violence and support affected communities in their recovery. Our team has been working with activists across the country who have been calling, writing and meeting with their members of Congress as part of the KONY 2012 campaign that launched in March. This week’s news provides further evidence that their voices are making an impact here in Washington.
The Senate and House of Representatives released separate versions of the foreign aid bill, and later this year both houses of Congress will negotiate a final version before voting it into law. The version released by the House of Representatives, drafted by committee leaders Kay Granger (R-TX) and Nita Lowey (D-NY), includes language that would guarantee that the U.S. continues to make it a priority to fund programs that help protect civilians and rescue and rehabilitate LRA abductees. This very encouraging progress was pushed forward, in large part, by the hard work and lobbying efforts of young activists. In fact, Representative Granger recently wrote a letter to students she met with for a KONY 2012 lobby meeting, saying,
“I really enjoyed our discussion and was encouraged by your commitment to end these atrocities. It is refreshing to see how informed and engaged you are… Rest assured, I will continue to ensure that we provide funding to help protect the citizens in LRA-affected areas, assist them as they rebuild their lives, and finally bring Kony and his leaders to justice.”
Congrats to all of the students who have been lobbying Representative Granger and many thanks to the Congresswoman for listening and responding to the voices of her constituents.
But wait, there’s more! In addition to that good news from the House side, the version of the foreign aid budget approved yesterday by the Senate committee, led by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), takes things a step further by allocating a firm $10 million for life-saving programs in LRA-affected communities. Here is the full language of the Senate budget bill.
Huge thanks are in order for Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Graham (R-SC) for their leadership, as well as for Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) who championed the allocation on the committee.
And of course, to all our advocates — particularly you lobby meeting leaders out there — we can’t thank you enough for the hard work you’ve done and we hope this news serves as an encouraging reminder that all of your efforts are working.
Our Resolve team will continue to work with activists this summer and into the fall to help ensure that the $10 million in the Senate budget is included in the final version of the foreign aid bill. Stay tuned with us if you want to help make that happen.
Stop at nothing.
When it comes to getting things done in Washington, one of the keys is to have strong champions in Congress. And – as Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) wrote in an editorial this week – it is the actions of young people across the country who have inspired them to take a stand:
“Letters and emails have poured into Washington from students from around the country, each bearing the same message our own children delivered to us: Kony and the LRA must be stopped and brought to justice…. Our challenge as Senators is now the same as our challenge as parents — sustaining this newfound level of engagement and interest.”
“There are moments in history, rare as they are, when millions of Americans galvanize around a crisis far from home and try to find a way to act. This can be one of those once-in-a-generation moments.”
As far as action goes, these two are leading the way. Senator Coons joined with Senator Inhofe (R-OK) to introduce the KONY 2012 Congressional resolution, and spearheaded the creation of a video where he joins seven other Senators in discussing why this issue matters to him.
Senator Landrieu is leading efforts to increase funding for programs in central Africa that help rescue and rehabilitate LRA abductees. She also introduced a Senate resolution supporting leadership from the African Union to help governments in the region protect their people from LRA attacks.
Now we need even more Senators to follow their lead. And to make sure that happens, we need only heed these Senator’s advice: when young people act, Senators listen.
So take a moment right now to act and make sure your representatives join Senator Landrieu and Senator Coons. Take action here.