We believe that political advocacy is a critical part of permanently ending LRA violence and addressing the injustices that allowed it to happen in the first place. That’s why we provide ongoing opportunities for people, young and old, to engage their political leaders through letter-writing, phone calls, rallies, and in-person lobby meetings. In the past ten years, millions of Americans – and an increasing number of international advocates – raised their voices about the LRA crisis and have called on their elected officials to play their part in bringing it to an end.
Because of the dedicated work of these activists, we’ve seen our leaders take a number of significant actions to help end Africa’s longest running armed conflict. Most notably, this includes the passage of two significant pieces of U.S. legislation — The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act (2010), and the Rewards for Justice Expansion legislation (2013). Galvanizing Congressional support behind these bills wasn’t an easy – we slept on the streets, wrote countless letters, and held hundreds of lobby meetings in Washington and around the country. As a result, it has now become official U.S. policy to pursue Joseph Kony and help bring an end to his crimes against the people of central Africa. In the wake of these successes, it’s now essential that we keep our leaders committed to finishing what we’ve all started together.
Bill number one: LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act
From June 2009 through March 2010, Invisible Children mobilized hundreds of thousands of young activists to rally Congressional support for the passage of the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. With 267 bipartisan cosponsors, the bill was the most widely supported Africa-related piece of legislation on record in U.S. history at the time of its passage. Representatives from Invisible Children, as well as our advocacy partners The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative and The Enough Project, were invited to attended the signing of the bill with President Obama in the Oval Office on May 24, 2010.
Once passed the Act required President Obama to develop the first-ever official U.S. strategy to address LRA violence and support affected communities, which he released in November 2010. That strategy was a catalyst of the President’s decision in October 2011 to deploy 100 U.S. advisers to central Africa in order to assisted the African Union- led mission focused on dismantling the LRA, protecting civilians from attacks, and apprehending top LRA leadership. Thanks in large part to the tireless work of of Invisible Children activists, the President has repeatedly extended the U.S. advisor mission, in an effort to give them the time and support they need to success. Additionally, on March 23, 2014, President Obama announced that he would be further strengthening U.S. counter-LRA efforts with the deployment four V-22 Osprey military aircraft to help improve the mobility of the U.S. advisors and regional forces working to locate and arrest Joseph Kony.
Bill number two: Rewards for Justice Expansion legislation
Invisible Children mobilized activists in support of the Rewards for Justice Expansion bill during our KONY 2012 campaign, which began in March of that year. We continued to work with activists on the bill for the whole of 2012. In addition to local lobby meetings, hundreds of supporters called their members of Congress and thousands wrote letters, which our ‘IC Citizen’ Team hand-delivered to Congressional offices. Our efforts culminated with the LOBBY:DC event on November 16th, 2012. More than 800 activists descended on Washington and participated in roughly 300 lobby meetings over the course of six hours. These activists called on their elected officials to support the passage of the Rewards for Justice expansion bill and to continue to support the efforts of the U.S. advisors in central Africa. Needless to say, Capitol Hill took notice, and the bill was passed on January 15, 2013.