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December Darfur Conference

By Garrett Cobb

Section: News

December 9, 2005

Students and experts from across the nation converged on Harvard University last weekend for the December Darfur Conference. The conference was organized by students from Brandeis, Harvard, Wellesley, and Georgetown and attended by two hundred and fifty students from 20+ colleges and high schools.

At the conference, students attended workshops on how to effectively organize and campaign, and heard talks from scholars acknowledged to be the worldwide experts in their fields.

This weekend saw the launch party of the Genocide Intervention Network, which aims to inform and empower its members to apply political pressure to their representatives. The conference also saw Nobel laureate Alex de Waals release of his new book: Darfur: A Short History of a Long War. There was also progress made on the International Journal for Darfurian Studies, which will publish articles on Darfur and provide a forum for academics to share information and ideas on the subject.

The election of STANDs national executive committee, which will direct the organizations efforts in the future, also took place at the conference.

A number of distinguished speakers were heard at the conference. John Prendergast has held numerous positions in the US Department of State and National Security Council, and was actively involved in shaping US foreign policy towards Africa. Eric Reeves has been working on the conflict in Sudan full time for six years, and has written many articles on the subject. Brian Steidle was an observer for the African Union, and he personally documented the evidence of atrocities that fighters have committed.

Masaya Uchino 06 is partially responsible for the speakers at the conference. Uchino said it helped that They [the speakers] were very eager. They really wanted to share their knowledge.

With the December conference behind them, STAND leaders are looking ahead. A new campaign called One Million Voices: Power to Protect will coordinate STAND and many other national groups to advocate the end of the genocide. The student activists are making progress, but they are not ready to relent.

Its not enough for us to try our best. The people of Darfur need us to succeed, said Weldon Kennedy 06, the Brandeis chapter president of STAND.

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