The bipartisan Global Fragility Act of 2019 mandates strategic coordination across the federal government to strengthen the capacity of the United States to prevent violence and increase stability in areas of the world most vulnerable to conflict. Key agencies must jointly establish a comprehensive 10-year “Global Fragility Strategy” and select priority countries and regions in which to implement the strategy. Among its requirements, the strategy must identify approaches to engage “civil society and local partners in the design, implementation and monitoring of [US] programs.” To effectively fulfill the local engagement directives, the US Government must recognize the cultural, social, and political role of religion and religious actors in the countries and regions selected for implementation. Effective engagement with religious actors requires: (1) understanding the complex role of religion in fragile states; (2) assessing the impact of US policies and programs on religious dynamics; (3) respecting the integrity and autonomy of religious actors; (4) working both on an inter- and intra-religious basis; (5) supporting the distribution of conflict-sensitive aid through faith-based organizations; and 6) enhancing capacity for religious engagement across federal agencies.
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