The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

Ending Genocide Symposium, Part 2: Over the Horizon

This is the second in a series of four posts recapping Imagining the Unimaginable: Ending Genocide in the 21st Century, a symposium held this morning at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. The event featured a keynote address by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, two panels, and a presentation of the results of a poll on public perceptions of mass atrocity prevention. This post summarizes the first panel, Over the Horizon: Global Trends Affecting Genocide.

The first panel, moderated by Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, was framed as a discussion of global trends that will likely be relevant to future incidences of mass atrocities. The discussion quickly coalesced around two specific trends: innovations in information technology on the (broadly) positive side, and resource scarcity on the negative side. Christopher Kojm, Chairman of the U.S. National Intelligence Council, largely reiterated Secretary Clinton’s points about potential contributions of modern information technology to atrocity prevention strategies. Kojm confirmed that the U.S. government views user-generated content as a potent tool: it can serve both as an early warning mechanism and as a source of situational awareness in areas where intelligence-gathering capacity is limited. He did acknowledge several ethical difficulties raised by the role of such technology in atrocity situations–most obviously, the challenge of verification, and the possibility of retaliation against vulnerable individuals who upload evidence of ongoing atrocities–but he generally shared Secretary Clinton’s optimism.

Peter Schwartz, Senior Vice President for Global Government Relations and Strategic Planning for, was even more upbeat: he argued that “radical transparency almost always favors the individual,” and that the devolution of information technology from large centralized systems into easily-accessible individual platforms is a very positive development from this perspective.

On the resource question, Kojm stated that he views “the nexus of food, water, and energy” as the key risk factor in determining the prevalence of mass atrocities over the medium to long term. Specifically, he highlighted the instability and governance gaps that tend to arise in areas where resource stress is combined with continued population growth. Dr. Timothy Snyder, a historian at Yale University and the author of Bloodlands, took this point further in discussing his research on the long-term causes of the Holocaust. He argued persuasively that the Nazi regime’s expansionary and ultimately genocidal policies were to a large extent a response to “ecological panic,” specifically a fear of food shortages.

Looking to the future, he noted that the world may be approaching a new era of ecological panic, as climate change stresses food and freshwater supplies, and population and economic growth generates soaring demand for nonrenewable energy sources. Needless to say, the implications of this trend from an atrocity prevention perspective are quite dire. The upside of this argument is that technological progress, insofar as it mitigates resource shortages, may play a large and unacknowledged role in preventing mass violence; Snyder attributed the stability of postwar Europe to increases in food productivity, in light of which such panic-driven violence once again became “unthinkable.” Of course, “ecological panic” alone did not drive the Holocaust; Snyder readily acknowledged that other, more obvious factors such as the collapse of the rule of law also contributed to the outbreak of genocide. Consequently, he did not deny the importance of the policies that are most commonly cited by atrocity prevention advocates, such as state-building. However, he emphasized that the relevance of global resource and environmental policy to a long-term conflict and atrocity prevention agenda should not be understated.

Ending Genocide Symposium, Part 1: Secretary Clinton

This is the first in a series of four posts recapping Imagining the Unimaginable: Ending Genocide in the 21st Century, a symposium held this morning at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. The event featured a keynote address by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, two panels, and a presentation of the results of a poll on public perceptions of mass atrocity prevention. This  post summarizes Secretary Clinton’s address, which can be read in full here.

Secretary Clinton began by reiterating previous statements from other administration officials, including President Obama himself, that the prevention of mass atrocities is not only a moral imperative, but also a core U.S. national security interest. The bulk of her talk consisted of a review of the steps that the administration has taken thus far to put this principle into practice. Some of the measures that she mentioned are quite well-known, most notably the creation of the Atrocities Prevention Board.

Of course, it remains to be seen what the Board’s exact agenda will be, and, perhaps more importantly, how much influence it will ultimately wield over U.S. policy. Based on the Secretary’s remarks, it seems clear that she understands the Board’s most important role to be that of information management. She noted that a massive amount of information relevant to possibly impending atrocities flows into various U.S. government agencies on a daily basis, and expressed her belief that one function of the Board is to ensure that none of this information falls through the cracks; in other words, that it is aggregated, analyzed, and (if necessary) acted upon.

Other, more “behind the scenes,” measures that the Secretary highlighted were enhanced conflict prevention and resolution trainings for U.S. diplomatic staff, and efforts to leverage technological innovation as an early warning tool both for the U.S. government and for civilians in vulnerable areas. She also emphasized examples of more forceful administration responses to certain ongoing conflicts, including the NATO intervention in Libya and the deployment of U.S. Special Forces in support of joint operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army.

In general, the Secretary’s tone in her discussion of the administration’s preventative efforts was one of measured optimism. This changed towards the end of her talk, when she briefly addressed the ongoing atrocities in Syria.

She spoke frankly about the limited entry points available to the U.S. government, explicitly placing a large amount of blame for the lack of progress on the Russian government. She emphasized that the situation in Syria epitomizes the most fundamental and intractable challenge faced by those who are committed to an atrocities prevention agenda: the ability of only a few countries (in this case, Russia, China, and Iran) to undermine a process supported by a large majority of the international community. She went into little detail about the administration’s efforts to respond to atrocities in Syria outside of the Security Council framework, aside from a brief reference to training and other non-military support being provided to opposition groups. Without saying so explicitly, she seemed to hint that, in the absence of Russian cooperation with international efforts to pressure the Assad regime, such aid to the opposition is one of the few remaining options available to the U.S. government.

Help Resource the Movement: Join a Task Force!

Are you interested in helping students across the country take their activism to the next level? Maybe you’re a skilled researcher with an passion for Central African issues. Maybe your chapter had a great lobby meeting at your local Congressional office, and you want to help other chapters achieve the same success. Maybe you spend your free time coding, or trying out the newest social media platform. If any of these apply to you, there’s a Task Force position that will allow you to put your skills to use!

Each Task Force works with the relevant Managing Committee member–the Education, Advocacy, Media, Online Communications, or Grassroots Outreach Coordinator–to carry out duties that are crucial to STAND’s day-to-day operations. We’re currently hiring for positions on the Education, Advocacy, and Online Communications Teams. You’ll find position descriptions and application links below. Positions on the Media and Grassroots Outreach Teams will open later in the summer, so stay tuned!

Education Team positions
Supervisor: Mac Hamilton, Education Coordinator (

Conflict Education Coordinator (4 positions): Conflict Education Coordinators serve as the experts-in-residence for the STAND Leadership Team on their given conflict(s). They are responsible for educating STAND’s leadership and membership, primarily through the creation of conflict-specific educational materials, and helping to inform STAND’s advocacy campaigns and programming pertaining to their particular conflicts. For the 2012-2013 school year, we are hiring one Conflict Education Coordinator for each of the following regions: Sudan and South Sudan (Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, and border-state clashes); Central Africa (the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi); the Middle East (Syria and Libya); and Burma. Apply at

Multimedia Specialist: The Education Team Multimedia specialist will work with the Education Coordinator and Education Team members to create informational materials for STAND chapters. These will mostly entail videos, but may also include PowerPoints, social media tools, webinars, etc., although prior knowledge in all of these fields is not required. Applicants should have a strong background in video editing and an interest in learning about other multimedia platforms. Applicants should be prepared to devote 10-15 hours per week to this position. Base-level knowledge of STAND’s conflict areas is highly encouraged. Apply at

Advocacy Team positions
Supervisor: Daniel Solomon, Advocacy Coordinator (

Advocacy Training Coordinator: The Advocacy Training Coordinator will work with STAND’s Advocacy Coordinator to develop training materials, webinars, and opportunities for direct advocacy. The Coordinator will serve as a resource to chapters interested in participating in Congressional lobbying, university-based advocacy, and legislative outreach. Applicants should have a strong background in direct advocacy and lobbying, as well as strong oral and written communication skills. Applicants should be prepared to devote 10-15 hours per week to this position. Apply at

Latin America Policy Analyst: The Policy Analyst for Latin America will work with STAND’s Advocacy Coordinator to develop policy materials, briefings, and analysis related to the ongoing atrocities in Latin America, including cartel violence in Mexico, indigenous persons, and gang conflicts in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. STAND is expanding its policy coverage of mass atrocities in Latin America, and the Policy Analyst will be central to ensuring constant, informed coverage of unaddressed issues. Applicants should have a strong background in conflict and mass atrocity in Latin America, as well as strong writing skills. Applicants should be prepared to devote 10-15 hours per week to this position. Apply at

Online Communications Team positions
Supervisor: Matthew Heck, Online Communications Coordinator (

Social Media Coordinator: The Social Media Coordinator is responsible for maintaining STAND’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, posting regular updates and actively engaging users on these platforms. In addition, the Social Media Coordinator will provide input to the Managing Committee on the best means of using these platforms for campaigns and other programming, and continually research new ways to expand STAND’s presence on other platforms. Applicants should have experience with Twitter, Facebook Pages, Google+, and preferably other platforms, and strong writing and creative thinking skills. Apply at

Webmaster: The Webmaster will ensure that STAND’s website is continually updated to reflect the needs of STAND’s leadership and membership, including constantly-changing programs. The Webmaster will also ensure the continued smooth operation of the site, with a particular focus on ease of use. Applicants should be proficient in HTML and CSS, and preferably in PHP, MySQL, and/or Javascript as well. They should also have some understanding of Content Management Systems, especially WordPress and preferably Drupal as well. Apply at


Connecting the Anti-Genocide Movement: You

To be completely honest: when we were hired as the Southwest Regional Outreach Coordinators we weren’t entirely sure what our jobs entailed. We knew it had something to do with implementing STAND’s national campaigns on a local level, but beyond that we had no idea what we would be doing on a day-to-day basis. However, after twelve months, three Student Leadership Team retreats in DC, a National Student Conference, and two statewide chapter retreats, we can honestly say that our time as Southwest high school and college ROCs has been one of the defining experiences of our lives thus far.

More than anything else, the highlight of the position is our contact with incredibly dedicated, knowledgeable, and creative activists around the region. While the Southwest has a fairly small number of chapters, we more than make up for it in quality. Every week, we each talk to five or six of these chapters, and always enjoy hearing about the events that they are planning and the ideas that they have for improving the movement on both a grassroots and a national level. It is always a thrill to provide such committed activists with the support and resources that they ask for in order to maximize the strength of the growing anti-genocide constituency in the Southwest. If you apply for a ROC position, your primary motive should be a desire to work with the most important part of the movement, the individuals who take action to pressure elected officials, raise funds for civilian protection, and raise awareness about the conflicts.

However, there are lots of other awesome experiences that go with the position. At the National Student Conference and at the spring statewide chapter retreats, you get the opportunity to meet and network with such activists face-to-face, as well as to present education and training workshops for students from across the country. As a member of the Student Leadership Team, you play a large role in shaping STAND’s advocacy and fundraising campaigns, and learn quite a bit about the anti-genocide legislative policies that we support at the federal and state level. Finally, you get to travel to DC every few months for SLT retreats, where you have the opportunity to make some really awesome lifelong friends with other members of the Managing Committee and Outreach Team!

We’ve changed a lot in the time since we accepted the ROC position. We know more about the situation in Darfur, and about what we can do about it, then we ever expected to learn. We are better people for meeting so many incredible activists and for getting to have worked together. And we have acquired skills that will last a lifetime, and enable us to dedicate our lives to effectively speaking up on issues that we care about. Oh, and you will learn to pretty much memorize the DC Metro! Applications for all Regional and State Outreach Coordinator positions are due Friday, April 17, so contact your current ROC if you interested in applying!


Your loyal ROCs,
Mickey Jackson and Katie Malaspina