The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

Introducing the United States Action Committee

As we approach the close of the 2020-2021 school year, STAND will integrate a new Action Committee and three new Education areas. After an extensive review of several factors, the 2020-2021 Managing Committee voted to adopt the United States as an Action Committee for the coming school year. 

As an organization dedicated to atrocity prevention, we have made it our mission to address and end mass atrocities wherever they may occur. STAND has found that the United States is deeply relevant to atrocity prevention in four ways: increased racial discrimination and white supremacy, the country’s history of slavery and violence against Black Americans, the current political climate, and the ongoing warning signs of genocide in the United States.

1. Racial Discrimination and White Supremacy

In recent years, the U.S. has seen a gradual uptick in explicit racial discrimination and displays of white supremacy. The use of hate speech has become increasingly common, with former President Donald Trump calling undocumented individuals “animals,” referring to Black and Brown protesters as “thugs,” and encouraging the labeling of COVID-19 as “Kung flu” or “the Chinese virus.” The use of inflammatory rhetoric by an individual in power has incited the use of similar racist and discriminatory language across the United States, with a new study from the Anti-Defamation League showing the links between hate speech and recent attacks against Asian-Americans. 

Further, the “Unite the Right” rally in August 2016, where white supremacists convened in Charlottesville, Virginia, is regarded by many as the origins of a white supremacy resurgence that has led to several similar rallies, including, most recently, a “White Lives Matter” rally in April 2021. Rising white supremacy, hate speech, transphobia, antisemitism, and general marginalization of minority groups are evidence of discrimination and dehumanization in the United States — two factors listed as warning signs of genocide.

2. History of Slavery and Violence against Black Americans

The United States’ history of slavery and subsequent racism and brutality against Black Americans represent state-sponsored violence that can descend a country into mass violence. Mapping Political Violence estimates that, in comparison to white people, Black people are 3 times more likely to be killed by the police. Additionally, an April 2021 report examined police brutality in the United States, concluding that “US laws and police practices do not comply with the international standards on the use of force,” and are “driven by racial stereotypes and racial biases.” The report highlights that the U.S. historically and currently violates international law on several accounts, with some violations reaching the extent of crimes against humanity

It should also be noted that due to a history of forced enslavement and deeply rooted discrimination against Black people, Black populations today suffer from systemic racism that has undoubtedly diminished their standing in society to the benefit of, notably, their white counterparts. A history of slavery and ongoing systemic racism remains largely unacknowledged by many in modern-day society. This inability to reckon with an atrocity-filled past and its effects in the current day contribute to uneven civil liberties, a characteristic of countries at risk of mass atrocities. 

3. Current Political Climate

The current political climate in the United States has seen polarization to the greatest extent. The nation’s two major political parties are experiencing tensions at an all-time high, with domestic politics becoming increasingly antagonistic and resulting in violence and riots. A 2018 study concluded that, since the 2016 election, one’s “partisan identity strength” is linked to trends of increased hate crimes- as stress between political parties rises, people are beginning to approve of violence towards opposing groups. The unprecedented events of January 6, 2021, on Capitol Hill are the consequences of extreme partisan identity and contested election results, both of which put the U.S. at significant risk of further and intensified violence. 

4. Genocide Warning

The United States is currently witnessing a handful of genocide warning signs that warrant domestic atrocity prevention action. It is of utmost importance to recognize that the United States is founded on the genocide of Indigenous peoples, a truth that remains largely unacknowledged and for which there have still not been reparations. One of the best predictors of a future mass atrocity is if the region has experienced a mass atrocity in the past. The United States has yet to fully address the mass killings and forced assimilation of Indigenous peoples, a population that still suffers from a lack of access to healthcare, clean water, and other basic resources. The modern-day plight of Indigenous populations stems from the United States’ history of settler colonialism and genocide and is a highly significant indicator of future mass violence and atrocities. 

Further, allegations of forced sterilizations at the U.S.-Mexico border would meet the formal definition of genocide. Nurses at an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center reported that numerous immigrant women may be experiencing non-consensual hysterectomies. Allegations have gone further as of December 2020, with over 40 testimonies from women who have spoken out about medical abuse from ICE gynecologists. The United States also has a history of state eugenics boards that carried out forced sterilizations targeted towards Black women and those with disabilities.


The United States is experiencing signs of genocide and mass atrocity risk factors. STAND is deeply concerned by the current state of affairs and plans to aid in atrocity prevention efforts in the United States by contributing the unique perspective of numerous U.S.-based youth dedicated to ending mass atrocities. We see similarities between the conflict regions we focus on and the events ongoing in our home country. As we do in all regions, we will take cues from activists and movements which are most affected by the issues at hand, while contributing the people power of our members. As an organization devoted to preventing atrocities wherever they may occur, it would be hypocritical to leave our own history and current display of mass atrocities unaddressed. 

Join the new United States Action Committee here.

Read STAND’s recent statements and blogs related to the United States:

STAND Conflict Update Writer of the Month: April 2021 | Featuring Mira Mehta

STAND Conflict Updates are published monthly and highlight current events in 11 conflict regions and countries around the world. To celebrate our conflict update writers and the work and research they put into their sections each month, STAND will be featuring a conflict update writer of the month along with their background and involvement with STAND. 

Please tell us a little about  yourself.

My name is Mira Mehta, and I’m a senior at Westfield High School in New Jersey. I’m the co-lead of the Yemen Action Committee, and this is my fourth year being a part of STAND. Last year, I was the New Jersey State Advocacy Lead, and before that, I was part of the communications task force for two years. Outside of STAND, I am the captain of my school’s debate team and an Editor-in-Chief of my school’s magazine.

Please write briefly what you’ve learned from writing conflict updates and why you choose to contribute to conflict updates each month.
I love contributing to the conflict updates every month because international atrocities rarely get the media coverage they should, and the conflict updates provide a very clear and concise way for people to stay informed. Before I joined STAND, I knew very little about mass atrocities or how prevalent they were around the world. The conflict updates were a really helpful resource for me to become educated, so contributing to them feels like a way of paying that forward. Writing them has also helped me stay informed on areas that I don’t usually focus my advocacy on, like Cameroon.

Based on the region(s) you’ve written on, what do you wish more people knew about the region(s) and its issues? 

I wish that people knew there is a conflict between English-speaking and French-speaking people in Cameroon, which has been escalating for a long time and is likely to become an even larger atrocity. Cameroon is a country that most people never think about, but there are real people who are in danger. It’s also important to note that neither side has a strong moral high ground in this case because both the English-speaking separatists and the military have acted with blatant disregard to and sometimes malice towards the well-being of civilians. There has to be international attention to help reduce the tensions before they escalate even further, and more innocent people get killed.

Why do you work with STAND and what have you enjoyed about the work you’ve done?

I love working with STAND because I’ve gotten the chance to make an actual difference and take action against atrocities around the world. I’ve been able to work with such incredible people from around the country who are passionate about these issues, and it’s amazing to me to watch them work and learn from them. STAND makes advocacy work accessible and brings in young people, and I really appreciate the ability to pass that on and to continue learning.

Read Mira’s featured sections here:

  • The DR Congo section of the July and August 2020 Conflict Updates
  • The Sudan + South Sudan and DR Congo section of the September and November 2020 Conflict Updates
  • The Refugees section of the October and December 2020 Conflict Updates
  • The Cameroon and Refugees section of the January, February, and March 2021 Conflict Updates

Read more about STAND’s conflict updates and other published pieces on our blog. If you are interested in writing a conflict update or joining a STAND Action Committee, visit our interest form. Contribute to STAND to support youth activists like Mira! Donate any amount here

STAND Conflict Update Writer of the Month: March 2021 | Featuring Audrey Firrone

STAND Conflict Updates are published monthly and highlight current events in 11 conflict regions and countries around the world. To celebrate our conflict update writers and the work and research they put into their sections each month, STAND will be featuring a conflict writer of the month along with their background and involvement with STAND.

Please tell us a little about  yourself.

My name is Audrey Firrone, I am a third-year  student at the University of Memphis studying Creative Mass Media, French and Political Science. I joined STAND in July as an Action Committee member on the East Turkistan Action Committee. In addition to writing conflict updates about East Turkistan and the Uyghurs, I have helped research for the Committee for information that can be presented to STAND chapters. Outside of STAND, I have worked with the Free Uyghur Now student coalition advocating for Uyghur rights. Between November and the beginning of March, I was the communications director for the coalition and I have been one of the content creators for infographics and social media posts since September. 

What have you learned from writing conflict updates and why do you choose to contribute to conflict updates each month?

Since I started writing conflict updates, I have learned that it is important to be unbiased in not only writing, but in research. Human rights is something that should not be a partisan issue, and when researching what is happening the research shouldn’t stop when something comes from a “side” that differs on other issues. I choose to contribute to the conflict updates each month because it allows me to not only stay up-to-date on what is going on in East Turkistan, but also helps with the work I do for Free Uyghur Now.

Based on the region you’ve written on, what do you wish more people knew about the region and its issues?

The thing I wish more people knew about the current atrocities happening in East Turkistan is that things are worse than many people realize. This is an emerging issue and as each month goes by new information is coming to light that is more atrocious than the last. Although this is a hard truth to understand, as more light is being shed on the issue the more things come to light. Since I started writing the conflict updates in August, several big and atrocious stories have come out and it is something that is going to keep happening as the world begins to put more focus on the crimes against humanity happening in East Turkistan. 

Why do you work with STAND and what have you enjoyed about the work you’ve done?

I work with STAND because it gives me inspiration that my peers care about making the world a better place. It is cliché to say, but it is true. Working as an Action Committee member has allowed me to meet so many people that are working to make the world a better place at so many different levels. Genocide  and mass atrocities are occurring and for many people my age that is something that they don’t know or acknowledge, and to work with so many youth that are trying to bring these issues to light is inspiring. 

Read Audrey’s featured sections here:

  • The East Turkistan section of the August 2020 Conflict Update
  • The East Turkistan section of the October 2020 Conflict Update 
  • The East Turkistan section of the November 2020 Conflict Update 
  • The East Turkistan section of the January 2021 Conflict Update 
  • The East Turkistan section of the February 2021 Conflict Update 

Read more about STAND’s Conflict Updates and other published pieces on our blog. If you are interested in writing a Conflict Update or joining a STAND Action Committee, visit our interest form. STAND Managing Committee positions are now open- check out the application! 

Conflict Update Writer of the Month: February 2021 | Featuring Saw Tar Thar Chit Ba

STAND Conflict Updates are published monthly and highlight current events in 11 conflict regions and countries around the world. To celebrate our conflict update writers and the work and research they put into their sections each month, STAND will be featuring a conflict writer of the month along with their background and involvement with STAND.

Please tell us a little about  yourself.
My name is Saw Tar Thar Chit Ba. I was born and raised in Yangon, Myanmar, and I moved to the United States a little over three years ago. I am a freshman studying business administration at Cheyney University. I was invited to the STAND Burma Action Committee by Jan Jan in the summer of 2020. Since then, I have had the privilege to meet with a lot of lovely people who are enthusiastic and passionate about preventing and ending genocides and mass atrocities in the world. I am also a volunteer at Voice Of Youth Myanmar and Global Movement for Myanmar Democracy.

What have you learned from writing conflict updates and why do you choose to contribute to conflict updates each month?
Writing conflict updates taught me that narration is very important. One verb or adjective can change the tone and the message of the entire writing. I also learned how to properly fact-check and be unbiased about the conflict I am updating on. The reason I choose to contribute to conflict updates is that I want to learn more about all the things happening in Burma and spread awareness to everyone. 

Based on the region you’ve written on, what do you wish more people knew about the region and its issues?
I wish people around the world realize that people in Burma are far from experiencing democracy. Rather, they are under an authoritarian regime all this time which is confirmed by the recent seizing of power by the military. The world’s longest civil war is still going on and a lot of people are suffering from it. Ethnic minorities are being oppressed and citizens are propagandized with the altered history taught in the schools.

Why do you work with STAND and what have you enjoyed about the work you’ve done?
I love being in STAND because honestly, it is nice to see people around my age, working hard to not only educate people about the genocides and mass atrocities but also take actions to end these atrocities. It is very inspiring and encouraging. I also learned many things about advocacy and how we as a collective, in solidarity, can achieve our goals. 

Read Tar Thar’s featured sections here:

Read more about STAND’s conflict updates and other published pieces on our blog. If you are interested in writing a conflict update or joining a STAND Action Committee, visit our interest form. STAND Managing Committee positions and Student Director positions are now open- check out the application! 

Implementing Women, Peace, and Security Through the GFA

This blog is the fifth in a series on the Global Fragility Act, signed into law on December 20, 2019, which would significantly reorient U.S. foreign policy and assistance to address the root causes of violence. It requires extensive cooperation between U.S. diplomatic, development, and defense agencies in order to develop the Global Fragility Strategy (GFS), to be submitted to Congress on September 15, 2020. The GFS will be the first-ever whole-of-government plan to prevent or reduce conflict in at least five fragile contexts over a 10-year period. Under the new GFS, agencies will use a range of diplomatic and programmatic efforts to address the drivers of violence while the GFA will support learning. about which diplomatic and programmatic efforts are most effective at preventing and reducing violence. Learn more here.

In October 2000, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS), which was the first UN resolution to recognize the needs of women during and after conflict. The four pillars of WPS, as designated by the UN, are to promote the participation of women in all levels of decision-making, protect women and girls during conflict, ensure that conflict prevention measures include gendered perspectives, and solidify safe and easy access to development programs and humanitarian aid during recovery. The Resolution also served as a policy framework for the Women, Peace, and Security Act, a law passed in 2017 that aimed to improve U.S. security and peace efforts through the implementation of the WPS agenda. However, all facets of both the WPS Act and Resolution require long overdue action to truly prioritize a gendered implementation of solutions to state fragility. 

Conflict disproportionately affects women. During times of conflict, women are uniquely affected due to traditional gender roles and lack of prioritization of women’s security and health. Often confined to domestic spheres and tasked with serving as the head of household if left by or separated from their male counterparts, women may be caring for multiple children, the elderly, and attempting to survive off of limited resources. Conflict also heightens gender inequalities–while women and girls are already less likely to obtain an education, women are two and a half times more likely to be out of school than men in conflict settings. Without access to proper resources and life-saving support, women are left extremely vulnerable to different forms of trafficking, natural disasters, and sexual violence as a weapon of war. Especially in cases of genocide, where atrocities are committed with the intention of preventing the existence of a certain ethnic group or nation, women are subject to rape, forced sterilization, and female genital mutilation. Maternal health is also virtually nonexistent in conflict settings–pregnancy-related deaths constitute 60% of women’s deaths in situations of armed conflict. 

Despite the disproportionate amount of violence that women face in times of conflict, their needs and voices are rarely taken into account when rebuilding post-conflict or implementing measures to prevent future conflict. The Council on Foreign Relations estimates that between 1992 and 2019, women constituted 3% of mediators and 4% of signatories in reconciliation processes. Moreover, from 1990 to 2018, a mere 19.7% of peace agreements contained language or provisions addressing women or gender. The exclusion of women from peace processes sets up societies for repeated failure–if the needs of all individuals in a population are not met, the likelihood of fragility increases. The WPS agenda’s goal of ensuring the participation or representation of women during peace processes is not only necessary but vital to sustainable peace- the International Peace Institute estimates that peace processes involving women are 35% more likely to last at least 15 years. Allowing space for women’s insight and demands ensures a more human-rights based approach to rebuilding that will allow gender equality, rights for marginalized groups, and the root causes of violence to be better addressed. 

The United States has the opportunity to forward the goals of WPS and ensure proper implementation of the WPS Act while preventing conflict worldwide; the Global Fragility Act (GFA), passed in December 2019, is a bipartisan foreign policy bill that reorients the way the U.S. addresses violence and conflict and is designed to meet the needs of those most impacted by conflict- including women. The GFA prioritizes localization by seeking to promote locally-led programs with local actors- this leaves potential for women and youth voices to be centered in civil society, allowing women a chance to engage with their communities as a facilitator, mediator, or signatory during program implementation or peace processes. U.S. agencies working under the GFA are required to consult civil society groups and cede leadership of programs or policies to local governments- with this method of implementation, the voices of all groups in society are taken into account, and listening to groups, such as women and youth, becomes a crucial aspect of the programs’ success. Women’s participation in developing local programs, violence reduction policies, and peace processes directly contributes to the GFA’s goal of conflict prevention while decreasing inequalities and strengthening their state’s ability to govern undisturbed by social pressures. 

The GFA not only fulfills WPS’s goals of promoting women’s roles in decision-making but also establishes long-term tracking of fragile countries through the Global Fragility Strategy (GFS). This evaluation of how effective violence reduction strategies and programs are will make way for better data and analysis of women’s roles in mitigating conflict. The GFA’s long-term evaluation will also showcase the need for gender equality in fragile contexts- gender inequality is one of the most significant warning signs of a fragile state, meaning that the GFA will be compelled to analyze inequalities in society or risk losing sustainable peace. By looking at impact in the long run, the GFA offers opportunities to truly understand the importance of women’s contributions in peacebuilding and challenge the status quo of women as victims as opposed to agents of change. 

It is also important to note that the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated women’s struggles in fragile regions- the Peace Research Institute of Oslo reports that countries where the status of women is low are more likely to be poorly equipped to treat and handle outbreaks like COVID-19. The current pandemic only increases the urgency to analyze global issues with a gendered perspective and prioritize the protection and inclusion of women and girls.

The goals of Women, Peace, and Security are ultimately intertwined with the sustainable peace and conflict prevention measures that the Global Fragility Act wishes to achieve. To truly address the root causes of conflict and develop strategies for violence reduction, women need to be at the center of all conversations, serving as decision-makers and active leaders in civil society. Successful implementation of the GFA includes successful implementation of WPS priorities,  providing for the security and inclusion of women for years to come.

Additional Sources:

Caroline is currently a freshmen at UCLA studying international development and French. She has worked with the STAND MC for the past 2 years and is returning as a co-education lead and co-Burma committee lead. Caroline is currently a research assistant for IDP and refugee issues with the US Campaign for Burma and works with the LA Museum of the Holocaust as a leader of the Museum Impact and Education Committee. In the past, Caroline has interned with Congresswoman Linda Sanchez and founded Together We Prevent Genocide, a non-profit dedicated to genocide education. She is a nominee for the 2020 National Gold Award Girl Scouts for her work with public school genocide awareness curriculum and is writer at Redefy for global affairs and legislative issues.

Chinese Re-Education Camps Imprison Thousands of Muslims

In 2014, the Chinese government reported that it was winning “the war” against Islamic fundamentalism and extremism. Three years later, China began to establish re-education centers aiming to end all devotion to Islam. These re-education centers are focusing on the Xinjiang region, home to over 24 million ethnic Muslim minority groups, the majority of whom are Uighur Muslims. The Uighur people have been taken into detention centers and forced to learn songs, listen to lectures and speeches, and write self-critical essays supporting the Chinese Communist Party. This indoctrination has been seen as not only a massive violation of basic human rights but also as a Chinese tactic for erasing the ethnic and cultural identity of the Uighur, a people who have been in China since the 17th century.

China’s continued prejudice against Muslims is not a recent trend. Starting in 2009, the Chinese government drastically increased surveillance and monitoring of Xinjiang’s population through phone scans, facial recognition, and DNA collection. Reports have also described Chinese police confiscating Uighur passports to prevent travel abroad. These measures have taken a turn for the worse this year, as an estimated 1,000 to 1,200 internment camps were established. The Chinese focus on Uighur populations is due to a 2013 attack in Beijing tied to a group called the Turkistan Islamic Party – Uighurs call the region their hail from East Turkistan. The Chinese government, however, has retaliated against all Uighurs, and has even brought re-education centers to other Muslim populations in the area; including the Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and Hui.

Life at the Chinese re-education centers is demeaning and derisive. Inmates have described daily routines including verbal abuse from guards, denial of meals, waterboarding and other forms of torture, strict rules for how Islam should be practiced, memorization of various laws, and the writing of self-criticizing essays. These acts show an overall goal of eliminating Uighur culture and Islamic beliefs, and praising the Chinese Communist Party. Some centers allow inmates to return home at the end of the day, while others detain thousands day and night for months on end. While it is tough to estimate the total number of Muslim detainees, the UN’s estimates have risen to one million. Exiled Uighur groups estimate the number to be even higher.

While the international community has criticized China’s abuse, most have not taken tangible action. In August 2018, the UN committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination questioned China’s previous track of racial discrimination, and, after numerous reports of the detention of large number of Uighur Muslims, declared China’s intentions of “combating terrorism” as a cover-up for the detaining of thousands of innocent people. In the U.S., there has been active and bipartisan support for implementing sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals, notably by Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chris Smith. As of September 2018, the Trump Administration is considering limiting the sales of American surveillance technology to China, which has been used by the Chinese government to monitor Uighur populations in the northwest. Despite this rhetoric, no clear action has yet been taken by the United States. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have taken steps to bring exposure to the situation, submitting reports to the U.N. with documented claims describing masses of detainees.

The undeniably unlawful and demeaning actions of the Chinese government deserve far more than a verbal warning. Condemnations, criticisms, and denunciations, while they bring publicity to the issue, will not enact meaningful change for the over one million detained Uighurs. The United States must take a definite stance and place economic sanctions on military officials and limit sales of technological resources that could be further used by the Chinese government to abusive civilians. It’s time to stop taking a passive stance in the face of obvious violations. Condemning malignant actions is just not enough.

CarolCarolineine Mendoza is a junior at Cerritos High School and is currently serving as STAND’s 2018-2019 West Region Field Organizer. As a member of the outreach team, Caroline enjoys connecting with schools to spread education on genocide and mass atrocities. In her free time, Caroline participates in Model United Nations, marching band, Girl Scouts, and pursues Holocaust and genocide education.