Grassroots Actions for Peace
Members of Schenectady Neighbors for Peace, a branch of Upper Hudson Peace
Action, and their allies at Women Against War recently hosted their own
"I Miss America" pageant. "Miss Led" "Miss Appropriation" and "Miss Take"
all competed for the crown while drawing attention to what they missed about
America, like fair play and honesty. Supporters handed out materials about
how they missed good ol' American values like functioning democracy and
New York State has four new representatives –
all of whom are tepidly to adamantly against the war. This brings New York
State’s total up to 18 congress people mostly against the war, 3 who
are on the fence and 8 who support it. Peace Action of New York State is
organizing a huge campaign to coordinate visits in all of New York’s
29 districts to turn election time anti-war rhetoric into results. We also
need to monitor work on nuclear proliferation, Iran, and cooperation with
the world community to eliminate torture and small arms sales to human rights
the 111th Congress
SUPPORT THE CHILD SOLDIER PREVENTION ACT OF
2007 (S. 1175)
4 things you can do to help
end the war in Iraq
1. Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper
about the war and an exit strategy.
2. Gather signatures for our People's Petition for an
Iraq Peace Process.
3. Call, e-mail or write your Senators and Congress people.
with Peace Action New York State to go on legislative visits, help with
protest campaigns, distribute literature and sponsor movie nights about
the Iraq war.
Limit US Military Assistance to Governments Using Child Soldiers
Today, an estimated 250,000 children are serving in armed conflict in 20
countries around the world. These "child soldiers" include boys and girls,
sometimes as young as eight years old, serving in government armies, government-linked
militias, and armed opposition groups. They serve in all aspects of contemporary
warfare-as spies, messengers, guards, cooks, porters, security officers,
and too often, as front-line combatants. Many female child soldiers are
forced to serve as sex slaves or "wives" of military commanders.
Although many child soldiers are found in non-governmental armed opposition
groups, the State Department reports that governments in ten countries are
implicated in child soldier use. The US government provides military assistance
to nine of them.
Some of these governments recruit children into their own armed forces,
while others are directly linked to militias that use children in warfare.
They include: Afghanistan, Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic
Republic of Congo, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Uganda. US military assistance
to these countries ranges from small amounts of funding for military training
to hundreds of millions in weapons, training, and military financing. US
tax dollars should not be used to support the exploitation of children as
soldiers. Moreover, US weapons should not end up in the hands of children.
The Child Soldier Prevention Act (S1175) is bipartisan legislation introduced
by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Sam Brownback (R-KS). The bill would
restrict five categories of US military assistance (International Military
Education and Training, Foreign Military Financing, Foreign Military Sales,
Direct Commercial Sales, and Excess Defense Articles) to governments described
above until they end any involvement in the recruitment or use of child
soldiers. The bill would not automatically cut off these military assistance
programs; governments taking concrete steps to end child recruitment and
demobilize child soldiers would remain eligible for assistance directed
solely towards the professionalization of their forces for up to two years
before any prohibition on assistance would be imposed.
This bill will provide clear incentives for governments currently implicated
in the recruitment and use of child soldiers to end this practice and demobilize
children from their forces. It also encourages the United States to expand
funding to rehabilitate former child soldiers and work with the international
community to bring to justice rebel armed groups that kidnap children for
use as soldiers.
Help Stop the Use of Child Soldiers:
Write a letter to your Members of Congress urging them to co-sponsor
the Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2007.
here to send a letter now!
a short 4-minute video for more information
—Encourage organizations you are involved with to endorse the legislation
—Urge your local newspaper and radio/television news programs to do
a story about child soldiers
—Share information about the bill with your friends, classmates and
Learn more, click on the links below:
the Child Soldier Prevention Act
Tips for Successful Legislative Meetings
Meeting in person with elected officials and/or legislative staff is
the most effective means of political advocacy. Here are some important
"do's" and "don'ts" to ensure that your lobbying meeting is successful and
Make an appointment in advance.
Time is always at a premium
in legislative offices. Contact the legislator's scheduler in advance to
arrange a meeting. Call the office or check the legislator's website to
find out how the meeting request should be made - by fax, e-mail or in writing.
Follow up with a phone call or two, requests sometimes get lost. Be clear
about who will be attending the meeting and the specific reason for the
meeting. Legislative schedules are unpredictable so don't be put off if
your meeting is rescheduled or if you have to meet with staff in lieu of
the elected official.
Prepare carefully and thoroughly for your
meeting. Take the time to "know" your legislator by reviewing past votes
or statements on the issue, his/her party's position, and committee assignments.
Develop an agenda that all your participants clearly understand. Know your
talking points in advance and be prepared to make your case. Research the
opposition's arguments against your position and, if possible, acknowledge
and rebut those arguments in your presentation.
. What you wear can convey how seriously you
take the meeting. It is important to wear clean, and neat clothing. Slacks,
skirts, button down shirts and blazers are appropriate. Teeshirts with text,
jeans, flipflops, tank tops and other casual clothing should be left at
home. Stay "on message." Effective legislative meetings should be narrow
in scope. Stick to a single issue, state only a few key points in support
of your position and make a definite request for action. Many meetings are
ineffective because a participant brings up other issues or strays from
the key arguments supporting your position. Have a message and stick to
Your effectiveness is based on geography. Legislators
want to hear your thoughts and opinions because you are a constituent. One
of your most useful strategies is to relate the issue and your position
to your community. Legislators have many other avenues to get national or
state analysis, reports and statistics. Local statistics and stories are
important and you can be the only source for such rich information. Don't
be afraid to humanize the issue by relating it to your local community or
Make a clear, actionable request.
Many people are afraid
that it's impolite to make a direct request. But, don't forget that the
purpose of your meeting is to secure support for your issue. It is appropriate
and expected that you will make a request at your meeting. The key is to
make sure that your request is clearly articulated and actionable by the
legislator. Keep in mind that your request should be timely and consistent
with the legislative process. It is usually not enough to ask for generic
support for an issue or cause, rather make a direct and specific request
that is tied to pending legislative activity (if possible). For example,
ask that a legislator co-sponsor a bill. You should make reference to bill
numbers and be knowledgeable about the status of the bill. Making a specific
request gives you the opportunity to evaluate the legislator's response.
Cultivate a relationship with staff.
Many grassroots advocates
underestimate the important role of legislative staff. A supportive staff
person can often make the difference between success and failure. Staff
play an invaluable role in shaping a legislator's agenda and position on
issues. It is important that you make every effort to cultivate a positive
working relationship with staff. Over time, staff may even come to regard
you as a helpful resource for information on your issue.
What happens after a meeting is almost as important
as the meeting itself. Send a 'thank you' letter after the meeting that
not only expresses appreciation but reinforces your message and any verbal
commitment of support made by the legislator or staff. If you promise during
the meeting to get back in touch with additional information, be sure that
you do so. Failure to follow up on your promise will call your credibility
into question. Also, don't forget to report the results of your meeting
back to PANYS. This information is vital to coordinating overall legislative
strategy and evaluating the impact of advocacy efforts. Follow-up is important
even if the legislator does not agree to support your request because you
are building a long-term relationship.
Go "off-message" or discuss unrelated issues.
deliver a unified message during your meeting. Sending different messages
or discussing unrelated subjects will only undermine your ability to secure
support. Limit your advocacy to a single issue. Legislators meet with many
groups and constituents so it is important that your message and request
be clear and uniform.
Engage in partisan critiques.
It is best to keep the discussion
based on the merits of the policy or issue. Avoid characterizing your position
in strictly partisan terms. Worse, do not make snide or disparaging partisan
comments. You are working on behalf of an issue, not a party. So, you want
legislators of both parties to support your position. Be careful not to
alienate legislators or staff based on partisanship.
While it may be tempting to tell a legislator
who has rebuffed your request that "you'll never vote for him/her again"
or that "you pay his/her salary," such discourtesy only ensures that your
arguments will be discounted-now and in the future.
Time is a valuable and scare commodity for legislators.
Punctuality conveys professionalism and demonstrates your commitment to
your issue, which is after all the reason for the meeting. Arrive early
and if you are meeting as a group allow time to calm nerves and make a final
review of the talking points and message.
Get too comfortable.
Advocates are sometimes surprised
by the courteous reception they receive, even from lawmakers who disagree
with their position. As a constituent you will be accorded respect by the
legislator and staff. Don't mistake this respect for agreement. Don't let
the comfortable nature of the exchange deter you from making your request.
And, don't mistake "concern" for your issue with support for your position.
Forget to follow up.
Immediately send a thank you letter.
Stay informed on your issue and track how your legislator responds. Did
the legislator follow through on his/her promise? If not, request an explanation.
If so, express your appreciation.