During last week’s State of the Union address, President Obama did not mention genocide prevention, nor did he reiterate the human rights commitments that he expressed so eloquently in the past. At this juncture, it is critical that we are not discouraged by President Obama’s omission of these subjects. There will continue to be opportunities for action on genocide prevention and conflict resolution going forward, and we must remain vigilant in pursuing our policy goals if we are to continue STAND’s history of aggressive and nuanced advocacy.
Action must not stop at the State of the Union address. Many STAND activists participated in the Pledge on Camera video advocacy campaign last fall; CitizenTube, a YouTube politics blog, offered us another opportunity to press for genocide prevention through video advocacy, and as a result of our video submissions and votes, President Obama was asked about Sudan. As I write, the Foreign Relations Authorization bill continues to move through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, offering opportunities for anti-genocide activists to constructively contribute to the genocide prevention language in the bill. Action remains necessary on Sudan and Burma, as the two countries face elections over the coming year, and on Congo, where the scourge of conflict remains present in the country’s Kivu provinces. We cannot be discouraged; now is the time for action, not discouragement.
STAND will continue to press for a commitment from the Obama administration on genocide prevention, more forceful action to implement benchmarks for reform prior to the Sudanese elections in 2010 and 2011, conflict-free minerals in the Congo, and a UN commission of inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma. We must remain vigilant if we are to succeed in our advocacy goals. We must hold the administration accountable for its past promises. Please join me as we reaffirm our commitment to ending and preventing genocide.