Yesterday evening, the United States House passed the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009. I was at home watching C-SPAN and was elated to hear it pass. A number of representatives made statements on the floor about the atrocities carried out by the LRA, including all of the original co-sponsors and both the chairman and ranking Republican of the Foreign Affairs Committee. In theses statements, several representatives mentioned the work of advocates and activists. And boy it’s been a long haul for a lot of the people I know. Invisible Children made a sweet video breaking down everything I’ve written here, so feel free to get some visuals. In April of 2009, nearly 100,000 activists took to the streets in 100 cities around the world for a campaign that ended six days later in Chicago. In May, Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Sam Brownback (R-KA) introduced the bill, and a piece of partner legislation was introduced in the House by a trio of representatives. A month later, 1700 activists descended on Washington, DC for two days – the most for any lobbying initiative. The months since have been dotted by district meetings all over the country, and slowly the support trickled in. In addition to lobby meetings, over 250,000 signatures were gathered for the Citizen’s Arrest Warrant for Joseph Kony and were hand-delivered to the State Department. When Senator Tom Coburn tried to block the bill from passing in the Senate, a grassroots campaign led to activists sleeping outside of his office for 262 hours until he removed his hold (and the bill passed with unanimous consent). The bill gained the support of 65 Senators and 201 Representatives, the most of any policy bill in this session and the most for any Africa-related bill in either chamber in modern American history. And on Wednesday it passed the House by voice vote and without objection. If you want to know more about what this means (and doesn’t mean), my friends at Resolve Uganda put together a break-down Q & A and John Prendergast wrote an article for Huffington Post about the bill as well. The main thing you should know is that it will soon become law for the US to help apprehend Joseph Kony.
UPDATE (5/14) – Kim and I totally saw an Invisible Children ad on TV last night. Totally weird, totally cool. If you get Halogen.tv you should check out all of the IC films they’re showing. :D
UPDATE (5/15) – A couple more links for everyone! Senators Russ Feingold, Sam Brownback, and Jim Inhofe, together with Representatives Jim McGovern and Ed Royce issued a joint statement celebrating the passage of the bill that you can read here. And, props to Resolve Uganda are in order. The organization called for supporters to ask for statements from their representatives. Their goal was five (only about 10 have made statements on this issue in the past ten years) and by the time the bill came to a vote fifteen statements had been made. You can see a full transcript of the statements on Resolve’s website.