[Episcopal Public Policy Network] In response to today’s call to action and prayer for the people of Sudan and South Sudan by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her three other counterparts, heads of the North American Lutheran and Anglican Churches, The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations provides the following template for an advocacy letter to President Obama. Members of the Episcopal Public Policy Network may GO HERE to send it to the President. (After clicking the link, you will have the option of personalizing the letter if you wish).
Dear Mr. President,
As an Episcopalian whose Church has deep ties to our fellow Episcopalians in Sudan and South Sudan, I write with grave concern for the humanitarian situation in both countries in light of recent events. Our nation has had a long and productive history of diplomatic, humanitarian, and peacemaking engagement in Sudan and South Sudan. As the severity of the situation on the ground deepens, and the potential of a significant food crisis looms, I believe it is urgent that the United States build on its tremendous moral capital and history of engagement. Specifically, I urge you to:
- Strengthen and provide greater specificity to the U.S. government’s engagement with the various parties in order to affect meaningful comprehensive peace processes in both Sudan and South Sudan. I welcome Secretary Kerry’s recent visit to Juba and the Administration’s statements of ongoing support for peace in South Sudan and Sudan. However, the lack of specificity in our nation’s responses, our wavering diplomatic presence, and the absence of meaningful accountability mechanisms all cause me grave concern. Our government should work to build a coalition of international partners that will more intensively engage in the various peace processes and create meaningful and enforceable accountability mechanisms – political, diplomatic, legal, and financial – against any party that orchestrates war crimes, obstructs humanitarian aid, or otherwise contributes to violence.
- Expand humanitarian assistance. Among the material consequences of the ongoing violence on many fronts are the threat of a significant food and hunger crisis and the widespread displacement of people from their homes and communities. The need for greater international humanitarian assistance is urgent. I urge the U.S. government to provide significantly increased financial assistance – that is, new money, not simply reprogrammed money – in response to humanitarian needs. I urge particular focus on agriculture and hunger, assistance and protection of displaced persons, and the equipping of nongovernmental organizations working directly on the ground. Humanitarian assistance cannot wait for political developments.
- Provide greater support for reconciliation efforts. It is abundantly clear that lasting peace cannot come without the parties undertaking the challenging work of reconciliation, healing, and rebuilding of societal relationships. The well-known work of the Churches of South Sudan in promoting reconciliation through efforts such as the Committee for National Healing, Peace, and Reconciliation deserve greater financial and political investment, and expansion to other areas of the ongoing conflicts. The Churches of South Sudan uniquely have both the presence and credibility to be the principal agents of peace and reconciliation; however, that potential can be realized only if the parties and the various international partners invest them with the means to carry out the task. I urge the U.S. government to work more closely with the parties and international partners in supporting this and other national-reconciliation initiatives. It is imperative that reconciliation efforts be led by people on the ground and not simply the political elites who have precipitated various dimensions of conflict in the first place.
- Support political, democratic, and military reform; and the strengthening of civil society. I urge the U.S. government to actively build international support for political and democratic reform in the two Sudans. Specifically, I urge the building of transparent and inclusive processes to review constitutional, legal, and electoral systems. In particular, the U.S. government should prioritize efforts to assist the government of South Sudan in creating a new constitution that strengthens national unity, provides greater recognition to the state’s various sectors and persons, and assures greater accountability between the government and its people. Additionally, military reform, particularly building cohesion in the context of South Sudan’s ethnic divisions in military units, offers the potential for systemic change. In all reform processes, the inclusion of voices from civil society – particularly faith groups – will be a key to the success of those initiatives.
Mr. President, your own history of concern for peace in Sudan and South Sudan, and in the wider region, is significant. Now, in a critical moment for people who have endured as much conflict as any others in the world over the past sixty years, I pray that you will position our nation at the forefront of the effort to bring a lasting season of peace with justice, healing, and reconciliation.
Send this letter to President Obama HERE