The Peace and Security Funders Group was founded in 1999 by several large foundations in response to a need for greater communication and collaboration among funders working in the peace and security field, as well as a mechanism to encourage increased philanthropic activity in this area. On July 1, 2012 PSFG became a project of the Fund for
Constitutional Government, a publicly funded foundation based in Washington. Prior to this, PSFG was a project of the Ploughshares Fund.
Peace and security issues are at the top of the public agendas in the United States and other countries. The potential spread of nuclear weapons and fissile material and release of dangerous pathogens, political violence between conflicting groups, and the prospect of large-scale attacks on civilians loom as pressing threats to the secruity of people everywhere. In the United States, the attacks of September 11, 2001, and subsequent U.S. military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq have focused attention on critical questions about the use of force, the prevention of conflict, approaches to peace building, and the role of international institutions in promoting security.
Rapidly increasing global interdependence has brought new choices and opportunities to make the world a safer and better place, but has exposed threats and vulnerabilities as well. Advances in communications technology, the ease of travel, and the greater openness of countries to flows of people, commodities, capital, ideas, information, and even dangerous materials have challenged the capacity of government authorities to protect citizens within their borders. Regional and international security arrangements that have helped to ensure global stability for the past fifty years need to be strengthened, and in some cases created anew, if they are to provide for safety in these new circumstances.
In this changing context, the independence and flexibility of private philanthropy takes on added value; funders have greater opportunities than ever to address security problems. Through their support of organizations and universities, issue experts and scientists, citizen activists and policy advocates, foundations and individual philanthropists are making significant contributions to peace and security. Members of PSFG have adopted a variety of approaches. Some donors support regional activities that try to prevent violent conflict or to aid peacebuilding and reconstruction after war. Some support effort address the global dangers of under-secured nuclear weapons, fissile material and dangerous pathogens, while others address the budgetary, environmental and health impacts of weapons production, testing and use. Some funders focus on underlying drivers of political violence, terrorism, and war, such as competition for natural resources, ethnic and religious differences, poverty and social injustice. Still other support the development of broad concepts of conflict prevention and conflict resolution -- concepts that apply to tensions within families, neighborhoods, and societies, as well as between countries.