STAND: Building the next generation of genocide prevention activists
In April, The Early Warning Project, a project of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, named Sudan and Burma* “two of the three most susceptible countries to the onset of a new episode of state-led mass killings” for the third year in a row. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, and Yemen continue to rank at the top of the list of highest-risk cases. The list of countries facing violent conflict is hefty, and can seem overwhelming at first — but that’s why we’re here, to educate you on current mass atrocities and actions you can take to stop them.
We are STAND: The Student Led Mass Movement against Mass Atrocities. Our story began in 2004, when a group of impassioned students at Georgetown University, floored by President George W. Bush’s determination that the conflict in Darfur constituted genocide, started the first STAND (then “Students Taking Action Now: Darfur) chapter. Almost immediately, hundreds of chapters sprouted up across the country, with students ready to take action for the people of Darfur. Since 2009, STAND has expanded our mission to ending and preventing genocide and mass atrocities worldwide. Today, we focus primarily on ongoing atrocities in Sudan, South Sudan, Burma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Yemen, and Burundi. We seek to raise the voices of affected populations to the U.S. government, and urge proactive engagement on areas at risk of genocide and mass atrocities, as well as those regions currently facing atrocities. Through education, advocacy, citizen lobbying and policy change, and fundraising, we aim to prevent conflict, invest in peacebuilding initiatives, and promote civilian protection in our target areas. We work closely with our parent organization, The Aegis Trust, a genocide prevention organization based in the UK and East Africa. Aegis Trust prides itself on their three phase Prevention Model, providing thorough policy analysis and advice for policymakers, commemorating the lives of victims of genocide, and building peace in post-genocide societies by supporting survivors, educating youth, and implementing social cohesion activities between different groups.
From the U.S. civil rights to the South African anti-apartheid movement, students have always been at the forefront of movements for social change — the genocide prevention (#genprev) movement follows that rich tradition. STAND prioritizes youth voices in a culture that does not always value young people. That’s why we have always been student-led, giving high school and college students the opportunity to delve deep into the academic literature surrounding violent conflict, but also to educate their peers and to develop campaigns and action plans for regions facing and at risk of genocide and mass atrocities. We’re not only preparing the next generation of leaders on U.S. campuses, but also around the world. With help from other humanitarian and anti-genocide organizations, we have become an integral part of a global alliance of groups working on these issues.
Along with our team of student writers, we are excited to open up Medium as a space to showcase our analysis and actions for new audiences. We hope you feel motivated to join our fight against genocide after reading our content! Visit us at www.standnow.org and follow us on social media to stay in the know and to learn what you can do to help end and prevent genocide and mass atrocities.
Ashley Morefield is a rising senior at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She majors in International Studies with a concentration in Sub-Saharan Africa and French & Francophone Studies. She’s excited to intern at STAND’s Washington, D.C. office as a genocide prevention policy intern.
* Burma was the name given to the country under British colonialism; it was renamed “Myanmar” by the 1989 military junta. Many Burmese and human rights organizations use “Burma” to discredit the government, but this may change as the recently elected government was democratically elected.