Hello and welcome to the first blog post from STAND UK!
STAND UK is The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities. At its core, our mission is to empower individuals and communities with the tools to prevent and end genocide. From our innovative Leadership Team to our network of thoughtful and change-oriented student activists, we are mobilizing campuses and communities across the country to act against genocide and mass atrocities worldwide.
STAND has been established in the United States since 2003, working to mobilise and organise students to campaign and has played a huge role in the mass atrocity prevention movement globally. It is thanks to Aegis that STAND is now going global with two autonomous but connected organizations, in the UK and the US, working for the same cause.
This marks the first year of STAND UK and we are looking forward to releasing more information on our campaigns and policy aims for this year. We will be focussing on 2 conflict regions– Syria and South Sudan– and we will be lobbying the UK government to bring about change.
Syria: Over five years of armed conflict in Syria has resulted in the loss of more than 400,000 Syrian lives, 6.3 million internally displaced persons, and 4.8 million seeking refuge in other countries. The Syrian crisis descended into civil war in 2011 when uprisings against President Assad’s repressive regime became violent. War crimes have been reportedly committed by all parties including murder, torture and rape. The situation is becoming increasing dangerous for civilians with 13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. While the UK government lacks leverage over most actors in the conflict, there are measures it can take to help. These include supporting the provision of urgent civilian protection, creating humanitarian access for those trapped inside the country, and encouraging mediation between the warring sects.
South Sudan: South Sudan has faced a number of obstacles since achieving independence from Sudan in 2011. Unfortunately, instead of addressing these issues, the government has focused on maintaining profit and power for elites, and its bloated and ineffective military has remained factionalized. In December 2013, President Salva Kiir accused Vice President Riek Machar of plotting a coup, and Machar formed his own army to oppose Kiir’s rule. The conflict has raged on, leaving peace agreements ignored, and with leaders largely removed from the suffering caused to civilians. The UK government should support an inclusive peace process with civil society representation, coordinate sanctions on leaders fuelling the conflict, and help push South Sudan towards the long process of building a capable and responsive state that achieves the desires of its people.
We hope to involve as many students’ from across UK universities as possible and unite our efforts to have our voice heard in UK politics. We will be drawing on the enthusiasm and expertise of our students, and communicating with key voices in government, to bring about real change to UK policy. We know just how passionate students are about mitigating the impact of current conflicts so please join us in our efforts to end genocide and mass atrocities.
Be sure to keep updated on our work by following this blog and our twitter @standnowUK. If you have any questions or want to get involved, please use the contact box to drop us a message or message me directly.
We can’t wait to have you on board!