The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

STAND Statement of Solidarity with Palestinians

In Israel, the Basic Law serves to protect human dignity and liberty- it states that Israel recognizes the “value of the human being, the sanctity of his life, and his being a free person.” However, the Israeli government is not respecting the human rights of all individuals. On May 10, Israeli forces stormed the al-Aqsa mosque and used stun grenades against Palestinians worshipping inside, sparking a wave of violence. Most recent estimates report a death toll of at least 120 Palestinians, 31 of whom being children, with over 900 injured. It is clear that the events occurring in occupied Palestine, now and historically, are representative of mass atrocities and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people. 

STAND has long worked to organize American youth to prevent and end genocide and mass atrocities abroad. As Palestinian human rights continue to be violated by forced evictions, explicit discrimination, arbitrary harassment, and violence from Israeli police, STAND, as an organization dedicated to ending violence and mass atrocities, stands in firm solidarity with Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and is in staunch opposition to all human rights violations perpetrated by Israel. For these reasons, the 2020-2021 Managing Committee selected Palestine as a new Education focus area for STAND. As with all of our issues, we will work with partners closer to the issue to build our base of knowledge.

Ethnic cleansing is the forced removal of an ethnic group from a territory. Clear signs of ethnic cleansing were present in Sheikh Jarrah as Palestinian families were ousted from their homes to allow Jewish civilians to move into East Jerusalem. These evictions are part of the Israeli government’s larger effort to change the region’s demographic makeup to one that is completely Jewish- a goal that involves ethnically cleansing East Jerusalem to be free of indigenous Palestinians. The concept of apartheid has also long been attached to Israel, with Israel’s actions of arbitrary arrests, seizure of property, and overall systematic oppression of Palestinians fitting with many of the 1973 Apartheid Convention’s defining factors of apartheid. 

Further, according to the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, the illegal Israeli settlements forcibly displacing Palestinian families amount to war crimes, and Israel’s annexation of the West Bank is widely regarded as a violation of international law. As seen recently in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and throughout occupied Palestine, state-sponsored violence, uneven civil liberties, and restriction of movement are rampantly violating Palestinian human rights and are all risk factors of mass atrocities. A recent Human Rights Watch report showcases the extent to which Israel has forced the movement of thousands of Palestinians out of their homes, denied residency rights, and suspended basic civil rights for Palestinians. Moreover, Genocide Watch states that Israel has limited the spread of Palestinian culture and identity by removing Arabic as the official language. 

Noting the United States’ complicity in aiding Israel to continue a pattern of some of the most telling signs of mass atrocities, leaving Israel’s human rights violations unaddressed would be hypocritical given STAND’s position as a U.S.-based atrocity prevention organization. STAND also notes that Hamas, an armed Palestinian group, is guilty of inciting violence through various rocket attacks and acknowledges these actions as deeply condemnable. However, there is an obvious power imbalance that works to the advantage of the Israel Defense Forces, as evidenced by the disproportionate amount of attacks against and casualties amongst Palestinians. 

We recognize the lasting impact that atrocities, namely the Holocaust, have had on Jewish people and recognize Israel’s role in allowing self-determination and safety for Jewish people. However, this does not negate the plight of the Palestinian people facing human rights abuses at the hands of the Israeli government. STAND has advocated against the forced displacement of the Rohingya, actively takes a role in raising awareness for the ongoing genocide in East Turkistan, and notes U.S. complicity in the crimes occurring in Yemen. We refuse to remain silent about the violence that the Palestinians endure under the Israeli government.


The Managing Committee is STAND’s central decision-making body. 

Announcing STAND’s Conscious Consumption Campaign

Hello to all our STAND Followers! We have VERY exciting news. Today marks the beginning of our Conscious Consumption Campaign. You may ask yourself: what is conscious consumption? Conscious consumption is a way of discouraging businesses’ unethical practices by choosing not to spend money there.  When legislative action is taking too long, consumers’ refusal to participate and support a company in its unethical practices can be a strong way to create change.  One famous example is the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  You may have heard of this concept more recently in the context of prison labor. So, for this campaign, conscious consumption is the act of us, as individuals, consciously thinking about how our actions and purchases inadvertently support unethical practices, specifically genocide.

As our main audience is students and youth, we recognize that you may not have much purchasing power to be able to make a difference through boycotting companies. Have no fear! There are so many other ways you can be involved in this campaign and become a conscious consumer!

This campaign has four main sections that incorporate education, action, and advocacy along the way. The first three weeks we introduce the campaign by discussing what is conscious consumption and divestment. To finish out this section, we introduce the three STAND Action Committees heavily connected to the campaign: East Turkistan, Burma, and Yemen. Section two of the campaign addresses specific intersections related to conscious consumption, including the environment, athletics, and the economy. To finish this section, we will have a guest speaker from No Business with Genocide to discuss actions we can take with local governments. The third and fourth sections bring a variety of actions you can take. Section three focuses on calling out specific target groups, such as companies, universities, and athletics specifically. Finally, we wrap up the campaign with five weeks of advocacy and action. We will provide suggestions of ethical alternatives and kick off our pledge drive. Three weeks are then dedicated to actions related to the three Action Committees. We finish off the campaign with a TWEET STORM WEEK and highlighting the pledges! The STAND MC is so excited for the launch and hope you all actively participate as you can!

As you will see throughout the campaign, there are many companies that are complicit in unethical practices, have Uyghur forced labor in their supply chain, or support the Burma Army. Even as we did our research, we found that Adidas removed all its ties from Uyghur forced labor, so we thought it would be a great “ethical alternative.” Then, we discovered that Adidas is actually doing business with the Burma Army. Throughout the campaign, we encourage you to define conscious consumption and “ethical” for what works best for you.

Ask yourself: what is most important to my morals? What can I feasibly do? Each of us individually must draw the line on what we can do and what we cannot. Also, this campaign is designed to ease people into the concept of conscious consumption, divestment, and company boycotts. This is not something that you can go from 0 to 100 or cut cold turkey. Like being environmentally aware and reducing plastic use, conscious consumption requires us to be cognizant of our consumerism daily and take actions little by little. 


Thank you for joining us on this journey! If you are a part of an organization that would like to be a part of our coalition, please email info@standnow.org. If you are STAND member looking to get more involved in this campaign, Slack message Jenna Walmer.


You can find more information on the campaign on this page which will update with the weekly actions, and make sure you follow us on social media @STANDNow.

STAND Statement on Human Rights Violations in the United States

The United States prides itself as one of the leading nations in democracy and human rights. These ideals have directed our decisions since the “founding” of our country, a country on the land that already belonged to Indigenous peoples. The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The preamble of our Constitution states, “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” This trend continues in the missions of many current U.S. agencies. The Vision of the U.S. Department of State boasts, “On behalf of the American people we promote and demonstrate democratic values and advance a free, peaceful, and prosperous world.” Despite these intentions, the United States is not respecting the human rights of all individuals. 

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both released extensive reports on the United States government’s recent failures to protect human rights. In Amnesty International’s report, they note that the U.S. has forfeited its membership in the UN Human Rights Council, disengaged with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, dismantled refugee resettlement and externalized the asylum process at the U.S.-Mexico Border. Amnesty International also brings attention to the arbitrary detention of asylum seekers and the indefinite detention of child asylum-seekers. Human Rights Watch’s 2020 World Report for the United States adds that the U.S. returned over 55,000 asylum seekers to “dangerous and unlivable conditions in Mexico.” To summarize, the report states, “The Trump administration made little use of its diminishing leverage to promote human rights abroad; continued to undermine multilateral institutions; and flouted international human rights and humanitarian law as it partnered with abusive governments.” 

These trends have been highlighted in media coverage throughout the past two years. In 2019, the question of “concentration camps” ravaged news sources and forced academics to consider the definition of concentration camps and if it was applicable to the detention centers at the U.S.-Mexico border. People wishing to seek asylum in the United States were and continue to be held in detention centers while they are awaiting status decisions. Children are separated from their parents. Those held in the centers experience horrendous living conditions, sleeping on concrete floors, receiving little food, and residing in overcrowded cells. 

Stories this year brought attention to the forced sterilizations occurring in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) concentration camps. The stories from witnesses state that there are multiple forms of medical abuse, including forced sterilization and hysterectomies. Also, reports demonstrate that there was a lack of informed consent during medical procedures. Since the release of this story, research on the history of sterilization programs in the United States has revealed that at least 60,000 people were sterilized in the 20th century. Forced sterilization is a common tactic used in atrocity crimes and genocidal regimes. 

As the student-led movement to end mass atrocities, STAND has a moral imperative to advocate for an end to these atrocities in our own country. As we typically focus on foreign policy issues and mass atrocities abroad, we cannot neglect the fact that similar abuses are happening within our borders. We address the forced sterilization of Uyghurs in East Turkistan, but we have neglected to address that in our own country. We have advocated against the detention of Rohingya in Burma, and must also advocate against arbitrary detention in our own country. With this statement, we acknowledge the abuses occurring in our own country and pledge to address them. We refuse to stand by any longer, as we recognize that silence inadvertently promotes the perpetrator’s voice and permits the continuance of these actions. 

We call on the United States government and the incoming administration to:

  1. Reverse the trends of human rights abuses in the United States.
  2. Disband the current model of detention for immigrants and asylum seekers and ensure that the rights accorded to these individuals through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN Resolutions such as the protection of persons from detention or imprisonment, the Refugee Act, and other international human rights treaties and bodies are respected throughout the process in the future. 
  3. Revamp ICE policies and operational procedures to have a humane process. 
  4. Prosecute the individuals participating in criminal practices that violate human rights.
  5. Hold the U.S. to the same standards applied to foreign governments, as outlined in the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018.
  6. Condemn atrocities committed on U.S. soil swiftly and hold perpetrators accountable through legislation, where necessary.

STAND’s Managing Committee is STAND’s central decision-making body, and works to ensure that students have the resources to effectively organize their campuses and communities. 

STAND Statement on September 2020 Global Fragility Act Report

In lieu of the comprehensive Global Fragility Strategy (GFS) as required by law, the Administration submitted a report to Congress late Tuesday evening outlining the forthcoming GFS. Though the report includes important considerations for implementing the Global Fragility Act (GFA), it falls short of the requirements mandated by Section 504(c) of the Act. The report’s shortcomings threaten to delay actual implementation of the GFA, despite a greater need for a more innovative foreign policy than ever as levels of global violence continue rising while COVID-19 exacerbates root causes of conflict.

STAND: the student-led movement to end mass atrocities, ran a virtual campaign this summer in support of robust GFA implementation, in partnership with Mercy Corps. We decided to focus on certain priorities for the Administration to include in the GFS, detailed in our Op-Ed Writing Guide, and based on extensive research by other organizations in the Global Fragility Act coalition. In the released report, the Administration noted four foci to be detailed in the strategy. However, when constructing the comprehensive GFS to meet their legal requirement, the Administration must be sure to:

  • Emphasize the inclusion of and support for local, youth-led peacebuilding organizations. The GFA was created in order to address the roots of conflict, and Congress emphasized in the text that this would be possible through local leadership. In the GFS, the Administration must come up with a holistic plan that integrates and elevates local organizations at every step, from programmatic design to evaluation. Further, a comprehensive strategy should detail how any plan to identify, partner with, and include local organizations in diplomatic and political efforts will include and center youth-led groups.
  • Select priority countries or regions based on relevant data and potential for U.S. action. This step is imperative for the GFA to be implemented. Without a list of priority regions and countries for GFA implementation, developing multiple 10-year strategies for each by the December 19, 2020 deadline may be delayed. Consistent with the indicators and data sources identified in Section 505 of the GFA and data-driven approaches developed by civil society leaders, priority regions and countries must be selected as soon as possible. By using data and evidence for impactful U.S. action, the GFA will be able to make the broadest impact on global levels of violence and fragility. 
  • Address long-term causes of fragility and violence while adapting short-term programming reform that will allow for flexibility. The necessity for improved adaptability in both policy and programming was made clear in Section 510(a)(1) of the GFA. The Administration must explain how it intends to reform programs to be able to adapt to the changing dynamics characteristic of conflict-affected and fragile environments in order to address long-term causes. Among these should include implementation of more flexible procurement mechanisms (see Recommendation 11 of “Getting from Here to There” by Alliance for Peacebuilding and the One Earth Foundation).
  • Take a conflict-sensitive, multisectoral approach. A conflict sensitive and multisectoral approach to crafting the 10-year context-specific strategies will be crucial for the GFA to fulfill its goal of addressing the underlying causes of violence. To this extent, the GFS should explain how conflict prevention and peacebuilding can be integrated at any stage of policy formulation and development programming. .
  • Detail interagency cooperation with an emphasis on learning. None of the above points will be possible unless the GFS truly describes the whole-of-government approach for implementation of the GFA. Right now, bureaucracy hinders interagency cooperation and detracts from collaboration across sectors. The GFS must explain how various agencies and government leaders will work together and make decisions to further the diplomatic and programmatic efforts necessary to make the goals of the GFA possible.

Elements of these recommendations appear as “objectives” in the summary report; however, a concrete plan to address them remains to be formulated. With nearly 80 million people currently fleeing conflict and persecution amidst a pandemic exacerbating already rising levels of violence, the whole-of-government, preventive approach possible through the GFA is imperative to U.S. foreign policy. We urge the Administration to uphold their legal requirement and release a comprehensive strategy swiftly to ensure this historic piece of legislation can be properly implemented. 


STAND’s Managing Committee is STAND’s central decision-making body, and works to ensure that students have the resources to effectively organize their campuses and communities. Thank you to Megan Smith and members of the GFA summer campaign team for contributing to this statement.

STANDing with George Floyd and Against Police Brutality

20-21 Managing Committee Statement


STAND, the student and youth-led movement to end mass atrocities, stands in solidarity and mourning with peaceful protesters in light of tragic events surrounding the police killing of George Floyd. As a movement with a mission to organize and empower a grassroots network of youth committed to advocacy against mass atrocities, we feel a responsibility to speak out against the injustice, racism, and white supremacy rooted in our society.  STAND joins millions of protestors in denouncing racial prejudice and police brutality in the United States.  We are committed to acknowledging the discrimination and persecution individuals face both domestically and internationally. 

Every successful social movement in history has included a passionate student voice; this movement is no exception. STAND supports and encourages youth organizations and individuals to speak up for their beliefs through peaceful, nonviolent actions. We stand with those directly impacted by injustice and work to amplify the voices demanding change. As the United States moves forward in resolving the violence and conflict that has emerged nationwide, young peacebuilders are needed now more than ever. 

STAND grieves with the nation and sends our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of George Floyd, as well as every individual affected by racial violence.  While we feel frustration and heartbreak in these events, we believe in the strength of youth activism and we are hopeful for peace.  

We encourage and empower youth voices to advocate for overcoming systems of oppression and violence. Daisaku Ikeda once said, “Let us join our efforts toward building unshakable foundations for a culture of peace.”  

As the world is rapidly changing and new challenges constantly emerge, the future is in the hands of the youth to find solutions to systemic problems. The road to transformation and change is not an easy one but is a necessary one. To create change, we must educate ourselves and others and brainstorm ways to peacefully enact action. We recognize the need for change to prevent violence and acknowledge the impacts of institutionalized racism and oppression. 

For information and guidance on how young voices can get involved, STAND ‘s Terre Haute South Vigo High School chapter has created a guide to activism and advocacy during this time. The United States Institute of Peace has assembled a list of resources in their Synergizing Nonviolent Action and Peacebuilding  (SNAP) Guide to promote peaceful activism and advocacy. 

For direct involvement on issues of police and racial violence, find a local organization or peacebuilding group.

As ever, STAND will continue to speak out against hatred, encourage youth activists to mobilize, and stand in solidarity with those who have been affected by racialized violence. 

STAND Celebrates the Introduction of the Youth, Peace and Security Act of 2020

H.R.6174 Is A Vital Step in Youth Peacebuilding

March 10, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the bipartisan Youth, Peace and Security Act of 2020 (YPS Act), H.R. 6174, was introduced by Representatives Grace Meng (D-NY), Susan Brooks (R-IN), Dean Phillips (D-MN) and John Curtis (R-UT) in the U.S. House of Representatives, constituting an historic step in support of youth empowerment and peacebuilding in U.S. foreign policy. The Managing Committee of STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities, along with partners the Alliance for Peacebuilding, Search for Common Ground, UNOY Peacebuilders, Peace Direct, FCNL, and Generations for Peace, commends these Representatives for their hard work and leadership in bringing this legislation forth. 

For the last 15 years, STAND has been empowering youth to advocate for a global community invested in preventing, mitigating, and resolving genocide and mass atrocities wherever they may occur. The key to creating sustainable change around the world is to empower youth with the resources and platforms they need to promote peace and justice within their communities, as the leaders of today and tomorrow. STAND is not alone. In 2015, 10,000 young peacebuilders participated in the first-ever Global Forum on Youth, Peace, and Security. As a result of this forum, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security (YPS).

STAND’s Student Director, Grace Fernandes, said, “As youth activists ourselves, we are thrilled by the introduction of the Youth, Peace and Security Act. We understand the unique power of youth organizing and the immense need to center youth voices globally. After the recent passage of both the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act and the Global Fragility Act, I could not be more excited to move forward in support of the Youth, Peace, and Security Act and urge Congress to take this next essential step in the pursuit of a world free of atrocities.”

STAND is especially encouraged by the measures in the bill to increase access to funding for youth peacebuilding groups and international YPS efforts, to ensure a youth voice in formulation of U.S. foreign policy, and to collect age-disaggregated data on conflict issues. These policies will be instrumental in shaping, training, and mobilizing the world’s youth toward a world with less conflict.

We look forward to working with Congress to vote YES on YPS. 

###

About STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities

Born out of the fight to stop the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, STAND is devoted to creating a sustainable student network that actively fights genocide and mass atrocities wherever they may occur. . STAND is led by a Student Director, chosen annually, and a Managing Committee comprised of college and high school students across the United States and is the only student-led organization focused on genocide and atrocity prevention. STAND is affiliated with the Aegis Trust, a UK-based nonprofit. For more information or to get involved, visit standnow.org or contact info@standnow.org.

 

For more information on the YPS Act, see:

2019-2020 STAND Managing Committee Statement Opposing the Latest Travel Ban

STAND, the student and youth-led movement to end mass atrocities, opposes the latest iteration of the Trump Administration’s travel ban released on January 31st, 2020. This expanded version of the travel ban includes six new countries, bringing up the total number to 13 countries restricted by the ban. Beginning on February 22nd, this ban prevents individuals from Nigeria, Myanmar, Eritrea, and Kyrgyzstan from obtaining immigrant visas. It also prohibits individuals from Sudan and Tanzania from being granted green cards through the diversity visa lottery.

This expanded travel ban perpetuates religious discrimination exhibited by previous iterations of the ban. Of the six newly added countries, all have “substantial” Muslim populations and three have Muslim-majority populations. In addition to the religious bias, the newest edition of the ban particularly focuses on African nations. Notably, the son of Eritrean refugees, U.S. Representative Joe Neguse, stated that the ban “unfairly singled out allied African nations”.

Two of STAND’s priority conflict areas, Burma (Myanmar) and Sudan have been included in this iteration. The New York Times highlights the particular importance of relocation for individuals from Burma with the intention to seek safety or reunite with their families. While it would be appropriate for the United States to impose additional financial sanctions on members of the Burmese government in response to the ongoing human rights violations against ethnic minorities within the country, STAND opposes the restriction of Burmese civilians in pursuit of a visa. 

It is additionally of note that, following the removal of former president Omar al-Bashir, the new transitional government in Sudan has been working toward normalizing its relationship with the United States.This restriction on Sudan, as the transitional government moves toward a civilian-led government, marks a step backward in terms of necessary U.S. support for the people of Sudan. 

While this ban does not apply to those seeking refugee status, the Trump Administration has already lowered refugee intake to an all-time low of 18,000 individuals for Fiscal Year 2020. This limitation in tandem with the newest restrictions marks the further abandonment of U.S. responsibilities to welcome those fleeing persecution regardless of their religion or nation of origin. 

As an organization dedicated to ending genocide and mass atrocities, STAND has opposed previous versions of the Administration’s travel ban. STAND’s 2017-2018 Managing Committee made a statement against the ban saying, “We will never allow such discrimination and hatred to be directed at any religious group in our country—or anywhere in the world”. In 2020, we reaffirm this commitment and stand resolutely with individuals and nations affected by this ban. As ever, we will continue to speak out against discriminatory policies, reflect on the lessons offered to us by history, and denounce practices of scapegoating and prejudice. 

For more information, or to get involved with STAND’s advocacy efforts, please contact info@standnow.org