The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

Budget Update: Life-Saving Funds Still at Risk in Senate

By Allyson Neville-Morgan

Despite reports last week that the Senate would vote on legislation to fund the international affairs account for the 2012 Fiscal Year, delays have pushed consideration until sometime next week. As we cautioned previously, there are still serious concerns about amendments that would seek to reduce or eliminate critical programs.

The international affairs account (considered as the State and Foreign Operations budget by Congress), supports humanitarian aid, peacekeeping and genocide prevention. Reductions in funding would put lives at risk in countries like Sudan.
Earlier this week, United to End Genocide joined several other groups in urging the Senate to oppose funding cuts to the State and Foreign Operations bill. Over the past several months, we have repeatedly urged both the House and Senate to fully allocate funding for FY12.

How You Can Help: Make the Call.

What to do: Call both of your Senators right now. Contact information for your Senators’ Washington, DC offices can be found here.

What to say: “I am a constituent. I would like to urge the Senator to vote against any amendments that would makes cuts to international affairs funding. I support funding for humanitarian aid, genocide prevention and United Nations peacekeeping.”

Read more about how international affairs funding advances national interests and why funding United Nations peacekeeping missions is such a good deal for the U.S.

House Letter Urges Obama to Reinvigorate Sudan Policy

By Allyson Neville-Morgan

Congressman Michael Capuano (D-MA) has been joined by the co-chairs of the Sudan Caucus in writing a bipartisan letter to President Obama. The letter urges Obama to adopt a new approach on Sudan.

Urge Your Representative to Sign-on

The letter will be open for additional signatures until November 18, 2011 and all members of the House of Representatives are welcome to join. Urge your Representative to add their signature to this letter today. You can contact your Representative by phone through 1-800-GENOCIDE or send an email through Your Representative should contact Congressman Capuano’s office to sign-on.

Sample Script: As a constituent who cares about ending atrocities in Sudan, I urge the Representative to sign-on to a letter to President Obama that is being circulated by the House Sudan Caucus. In light of ongoing violence, the letter urges the President to reinvigorate the U.S. policy on Sudan. Please contact Christina in Congressman Capuano’s office to sign-on. Thank you.

About the Letter

The letter underscores the need for a revised policy approach in saying, “…recent events in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur provide clear evidence that the Administration’s policy toward Sudan must be reinvigorated to address the urgent humanitarian and civilian crises facing millions of Sudanese.” Additionally, the letter highlights the worsening humanitarian situation, describes the root cause of the problems in Sudan as the “marginalization of the peripheries by Khartoum”, and calls for the Administration to “marshal the international community” to end violence and support prospects for long-term peace.

#endgen2011: A Long But Inspiring First Day

You’ve probably gotten countless e-mails about it by now, and possibly even attended, but after much anticipation, the End Genocide Action Summit took place two weekends ago.  With almost 300 students in attendance, the conference was pretty huge.  But STAND and United to End Genocide did a fantastic job of giving everyone an individual conference experience.

After seeing some old friends (and making new ones) at breakfast, the opening ceremonies offered a thought- provoking perspective on our genocide-prevention movement.  We were then able to break up into more manageable groups of between 10 and 40 for sessions running the gamut from the public narrative to social networks to advocacy strategies, which I attended.  At the session, there was an excellent balance between both strategy and sharing of best practices, and I was happy not only to contribute some things I’ve learned over the years, but also to pick up some new ideas.

In the afternoon, the participants again broke up into sessions of a different kind.  Earlier in the day participants had posted ideas for conference sessions weren’t available at the summit.  These ideas came to life in the form of “unconference” sessions, which were essentially participant-driven meetings about any topic—from Diaspora group outreach to the relevancy of the Burmese conflict.  It was really helpful to see and learn from so many impromptu session leaders with a variety of experiences and perspectives.

We ended the first (and second, for that matter) day with a performance by ever-inspiring Omekongo Dibinga, and after the long day of sessions, I felt more prepared and motivated to go back to my chapter in New York and make everything we talked about this weekend happen.

National Call-in Day 10/19: STAND Up for Civilians in Syria

 This year’s Arab Spring brought unprecedented change to countries through out the Middle East and North Africa, as civilian protesters took to the streets to demand political change and democratic reform. In many countries, these protests were successful, with results ranging from various governmental reforms to total regime change.  However, in other regions, the Arab Spring turned to the Arab Summer, and now into the Arab Fall.  This is the case in Syria, where the Assad regime has met now seven full months of peaceful protests for change with intensified violence and oppression. The UN has reported that the death toll in the past seven months of protests has reached 3,000, though many human rights groups claim that the death toll is now as high as 5,000 deaths. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, says that 100 people have died in the past 10 days alone. 

It is clear that the Assad regime has no intention of implementing reforms and has completely disregarded the criticism from the international community as more and more protesters continue to be killed every day. We must take action now.
This Wednesday, October 19th call 1-800-GENOCIDE (1-800-436-6243) to ask your Senators to co-sponsor the Syria Sanctions Act of 2011 (SR 1472)
Help mobilize support for civilian protection in Syria and get your friends, family and chapters to make the call. Your phone calls can be the political will we need for our goverment to take decisive action for atrocity prevention in Syria. 
Join us on 10/19 for our National Call-in Day and call 1-800-GENOCIDE to show your support for civilian protection in Syria. 


Syria: Recent Policy Developments

Syria: Recent Policy Developments


By Advocacy Coordinator Maria Thomson


As the Syrian conflict nears its seventh month since originally coming to prominence in early March, both Syrian protesters and international observers are growing desperate in search of a more effective means to resolve, or at least make headway, with the situation.  The conflict has been marked by steadfast nonviolence on the part of civilian demonstrators, who have, conversely, borne the brunt of ruthless violence on behalf of  President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.   The extent of this violence (the UN has now documented at least 2900 Syrian casualties) has led many in the United States to compare the Syrian conflict to that in Libya, and many — whether endorsing US actions or not — have questioned why the United States has applied different policies to the two regions.  I wrote on this topic earlier this fall, but since that time, the situation in Syria has changed in a few notable ways that call for an updated look at STAND’s policy.


First, and most alarmingly, there is growing talk among Syrian civilian protesters of taking up arms against government forces, under the notion that nonviolence has not proved an successful tactic in affecting the Assad government.  Certainly, this sentiment is not shared among all protesters, and a statement released by the Local Coordinating Committees warned that “militarization would … erode the moral superiority that has characterized the revolution since its beginning.”  However, speculation of future violence has led talk of a UN-authorized no-fly zone in Syria to reemerge.  As was true at the time of my last post, the Syrian conflict has seen minimal use of aircraft, and instead has been driven forward by tank attacks, making a hypothetical no-drive zone a more appropriate response than a no-fly zone.  


Discussion of no-fly or -drive zones as a whole may be moot, however, given the difficulties the United Nations has faced in recent days in passing any resolution on Syria whatsoever.  Notably, the UN Security Council (UNSC) met on Tuesday to vote on a resolution which would have the council “consider its options” in 30 days if Syrian violence against civilians did not halt.  This resolution was widely acknowledged to be “watered down,” as it did not propose an arms embargo and provided no hint of military intervention, but rather demanded only an end to violence and punted further review of the situation a month into the future.  However, even this resolution was vetoed by both Russia and China, and received abstentions from Brazil, India, Lebanon, and South Africa.  A double-veto such as this is rare for the UNSC, and may be indicative of the uphill battle the international community faces in mobilizing to support of Syrian protesters.


As a result, the greatest action the United States can take for the time being seems to lie in the Syria Sanctions Act of 2011 (SR 1472), which is currently working its way through the Senate.  This legislation would establish penalties within the US for any company that continues to participate in Syria’s petroleum sector, by way of contract prohibition, denial of loans, and blocking of property. This would essentially force foreign companies to choose between continuing operations in Syria or avoiding serious consequences in the United States.  You can voice support for this bill right now by:

  • Calling 1-800-GENOCIDE (1-800-436-6243) to reach your Senators and ask them to support the legislation
  • Expressing support for the bill through POPVOX, which sends immediate notification of your support to your representatives

In other news, the United States Senate confirmed Robert Ford as Ambassador to Syria on Monday (Oct. 3).  Ford, who had until now been working in Syria on approval from President Obama via an executive order, has served as an important resource and support to Syrian protesters.  Ford has frequently visited sites of protest in Syria, and has often criticized Assad’s regime and its crackdown on protesters more harshly than President Obama and the United States government have been willing to do.  His presence will no doubt continue to be critical in the near future, as a voice that may express resolute support for the cause of the Syrian civilians, and as one that can continue to champion nonviolence even in such trying times.


Get Your Shot at the Spotlight!

Get Your Shot at the Spotlight!


In just a few weeks, hundreds of activists and experts from around the country will convene in Washington, D.C. for a common theme and purpose: creating a generation without genocide. Are you one of them? We already know that many of you are heading to D.C. for the weekend, and we can’t wait to meet and hear from every one of you. You guys have shown your commitment as passionate and talented activists and now you deserve some recognition. We want to highlight as many of your chapters as possible following the conference and give you the credit that you deserve. To do so we will feature every chapter that sends 5 or more people to the conference on the homepage for a week!  
So, what does your chapter need to do to get a shot at STAND fame? Recruit 4 other people and register now for the United to End Genocide Action Summit: Creating a Generation Without Genocide. Make sure to let us know what school you’re coming from when you complete your registration!

Then, following the conference, we’ll feature every chapter that sent 5 or more people on our homepage for a week! It’s that easy! Your chapter can send us a photo, story, blog post, or whatever it is that you want your fellow upSTANDers to know about you, and we’ll feature it on the homepage — so start recruiting now!

Already signed up 5 people? We’ve got you guys covered too, stay tuned to the blog for more exciting competition announcements coming soon!

Wanna know who your competition is? Check out who’s coming to the conference below with our map of conference attendees!



Why I’ll be at the End Genocide Action Summit

Why I’ll be at the End Genocide Action Summit

By Communications Task Force Blogger Zoya Waliany

The End Genocide Action Summit 2011 on October 22-24 is quickly approaching us and I’m counting down the days. This will be the first time I will attend the summit, let alone a STAND conference, so I’m excited to see what I will learn and discover this year. An obvious reason for my excitement: having a legitimate excuse to miss class for a day and spend the weekend with friends in the great city of Washington D.C.? Don’t mind if I do, ayooo! Beyond this highly substantial reason, however, I also claim more meaningful reasons, partially to satisfy my parents and partially to satisfy my inner activist. 

The reason why I had never attended a conference before, despite being involved with my university’s STAND chapter for the last three years, is because I didn’t think I had it in me. I’ve held leadership positions in UT’s STAND chapter, including president, and yet I still felt disconnected from the greater STAND organization. Out here, all the way in Texas, I always felt proud of the work we did, but figured it paled in comparison to what students around the country were doing. The same students who attend the annual conferences and boot camps in DC—a long way away from home for me! 

Because of this disconnection and distance I felt, I didn’t think attending conferences was important, or even beneficial. However, this year my sentiment has changed. From learning about the new STAND campaigns for Libya and Sudan to reading testimonials describing other students’ accounts of past conferences, I’m beginning to see the benefit of attending this conference. At the Summit, I will be surrounded by hundreds of like-minded students who work toward a common goal and share my passions. Together, we will undergo workshops that explain to us the conflicts in South Kordofan, Abyei, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, and other complex regions. Together, we will create campaign strategies and develop tactics to increase genocide prevention awareness at our campuses. While these are things I could do by myself, in my room, using my laptop, to work with other students, in addition to experts, applying hands-on methods to learning will be exponentially more effective. I will come away from this weekend with increased knowledge and a greater confidence of my ability to spread and apply this knowledge.

The last day of the conference is Lobby Day. Lobbying on Capital Hill? One could not possibly be more legit than an activist who lobbies in the heart of the country. The conference will provide training for people like myself without lobbying experience and will subsequently thrust us into the hotbed of lobbying the very next day. Though a daunting and even anxiety-causing task, Lobby Day will not only give us real life experience, but it will also prepare us to bring our skills back to our campuses to teach our peers. If you’re a politics nerd like me, the prospect of lobbying with real life Congress members is a huge incentive to attend the Summit.

So, despite my lack of prior experience and the many miles between D.C. and me, I have decided that this year I will attend the End Genocide Action Summit 2011. I will finally make the transition from working on the sidelines to being a significant and substantial part of the genocide prevention movement.

Students Gather to Raise Awareness on George Washington University Campus

Students Gather to Raise Awareness on George Washington University Campus

Last Saturday, the STAND core chapter of George Washington University held the second annual STAND Fair, an event to raise awareness and encourage students to participate in the anti-genocide movement.  Kaiser Kabir, President of the GW STAND chapter said, “The purpose of STANDFair is to not only make our GW STAND organization visible but to reach out to the GW community and show everyone the anti-genocide movement is going strong. It’s a fun way to get people interacting with each other and learning about the conflicts in Sudan, Burma and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).”

The event, held in Kogan Plaza, featured live music, food, and games to draw attention to selected conflict areas. After each game, students answered a question about the various conflicts, based on flyers and handouts at the table, and then received a ticket for food. The game “Bobbing for Burma” had many bobbing for apples, before participating in signing a U.S. Campaign for Burma advocacy letter. “Stand for Sudan” allowed students to create a colorful banner with painted footprints, while also learning about the conflict in Darfur.  Finally, “Digging for the DRC” which had students attempting to find “conflict minerals,” taught students about conflict minerals and the various actors in the DRC.

Along with these games, a general advocacy table covered historic genocides, current genocides, and emerging conflicts in an interactive map, where participants could learn about these events before calling 1-800-GENOCIDE. 

The event successfully allowed students and other participants to connect with the larger movement, as well as the GW chapter of STAND, while listening to music and enjoying each other’s company. It brought DC students together to learn about conflicts and participate in an advocacy action in a casual and positive space. The fair games may have been silly but they taught participants about conflicts in a digestible way.  The seeds of later action have potentially been planted, as everyone left the event with issues to think about.


The Art of the Lemonade Stand

The Art of the Lemonade Stand

By Communications Task Force Blogger Roberta Barnett

UpSTANDers, like other activists and organizers, almost always face the issue of funding.  Whether you’re trying to raise funds to go to the End Genocide Action Summit or just purchasing something to make your meetings more attractive to potential members, such as pizza, there are a few things all STAND chapters should keep in mind when fundraising.  My chapter, Pelham Memorial High School STAND, just completed its first fundraiser for this year: the Lemonade STAND Against Genocide, giving me a perfect opportunity to give a few tips for successful fundraisers.  

Tip 1: Learn from other groups and past experiences on campus.

In my high school, student organizations frequently host bake sales, so I knew that the concept of a bake sale had the potential to successfully raise funds for STAND.  If you know something does or does not work on your campus, use that to your advantage.

Tip 2: Be creative

I did not invent the lemonade STAND concept, but I had been involved in one before.  I knew that while it could have the profits of a bake sale, it would gain much more visibility next to the monotony of frosted cupcakes sold by other groups.  Teachers and students alike approached me during the day to ask about the inventive lemonade STAND.  I don’t think there has ever been much hype over a bake sale, but a putting a spin on a typical fundraiser can make it iconic.
Another fantastic example of this is STANDFast, an event in which students ask their classmates and teachers to give up one luxury item that they typically purchase (such as candy, tea, or dessert) for a period of time, usually between one day and one week, and donate that money to STAND.  The concept of “giving something up for Darfur” tends to captivate students more so than just “donate money to Darfur.”

Tip 3: Keep in mind the initial outlay of funds

          Before putting together the lemonade STAND, I asked some of my chapter leadership if they would be able to bake cookies to be sold along with the lemonade.  This eliminates the potential to not profit from the fundraiser.  Be wary of high gross profits and initial outlay of funds.  If you choose to sell something that you have to purchase, such as organic fair-trade coffee, it is a good idea to first take into account the net profit per item.  Having been a part of a coffee sale, I can say that I did not make much more money than I would have at a typical bake sale because the initial cost of purchasing the coffee was very close to the selling price.  

Tip 4: Maximize your publicity

          A few days before the fundraiser, I created an event on Facebook promoting the lemonade STAND, which helped to increase visibility of the event and of my chapter itself.  If you have a fundraiser, make sure that you publicize the event well; more people at the fundraiser means greater profits, and that is probably one of the main goals of a fundraiser.  At the event, we also had flyers advertising our chapter and information about meetings, and we encouraged lemonade STAND attendees to take one and join.  In that way, a fundraiser can also be used as a recruitment tool.

Theatre in advocacy, advocacy in theatre

Theatre in advocacy, advocacy in theatre

By Communications Task Force Blogger Tyler S. Bugg

A self-proclaimed “theatre person,” I make as much time as possible for reading plays and seeing shows, both for leisure and for a new learning experience. The best plays teach something.

Just yesterday, I finished reading Winter Miller’s In Dafur, a play based on interviews Miller conducted at the Sudan border with genocide survivors. The play intertwines the lives of three survivors living in an internally displaced persons camp. An aid worker’s mission in saving lives, a journalist’s pursuit to write a “front-page” story, and a Darfuri woman’s quest for safety are the plotlines that make the play both urgent and significant.

The next step for me in my journey with In Darfur is to see a staged production of it. Its message will become all the more potent when I can see the characters I read in the script being embodied by real people, real voices, and real emotions on stage.

The play is both heartbreaking and hopeful, much like the outlooks of Sudanese survivors and those still in danger. For me, and for many others that connect with the realities of life that inform In Darfur, the play isn’t simply another play or another book. It’s a voice of change and, perhaps more importantly, a voice for change.

In both script form and onstage, In Darfur and its message is one that sheds light on the conflicts and memories of them that continue to stifle healing for Dafuri and Sudanese people. The conflict is not over. And neither is our work and support for them. We continue to be advocates for a better Darfur and, through the play, the playwright, actors, and theaters across the country are as well. Theatre, by addressing the most pressing issues of our time, serves a role of creative advocacy, using its artistic forms to make a difference.

In Darfur compels me to be a creative advocate. By being an advocate for what I believe in, I can be an advocate for my power in affecting it. I can perform in or direct a drama. Perhaps you can compose a song, create an art installation, or write for your school or local newspaper.                              

Be creative. Be an advocate. For yourself, for Darfur, and for the world we all share.