STAND, the US-based student movement to end mass atrocities, is merging with the Aegis Trust as the US branch of the Aegis Youth Department. Founded in 2003 by a group of Georgetown students, over the following years STAND chapters sprang up at schools and colleges across the USA. Originally an acronym for ‘Students Taking Action Now: Darfur’, STAND subsequently expanded its focus to the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities wherever they may occur.
This is a mission shared by the Aegis Trust, which developed in 2000 from the work of the UK National Holocaust Centre. Aegis addresses genocide as a public health issue and works to prevent it in three stages; first, through commemoration and peace-building education designed to break long-term cycles of violence; second, through research, evidence-based policy advice and advocacy for people now at risk of mass atrocities; third, through support for survivors and communities trying to rebuild when genocide is past.
Responsible for the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda – a site where some 250,000 victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi lie buried – Aegis is now being urged by leading figures in Kenya, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic (CAR) to take its successful model for peacebuilding beyond Rwanda’s borders.
In particular, the move to help CAR is backed by a youth-led campaign recently launched by STAND and Aegis Students, the youth arm of the Aegis Trust. With STAND now sharing the Aegis umbrella, ‘Action for CAR’ (www.action4CAR.org) promises to be the first such international youth-led campaign.
“Aegis is an international leader in the field of genocide prevention and we’re excited to be a part of their expansion,” said Natasha Kieval, Student Director at STAND. Mac Hamilton, STAND Executive Manager added, “Merging with Aegis strengthens our impact and broadens our resources to fight against genocide and mass atrocities internationally. By joining Aegis, with their focus on youth empowerment for peacebuilding, we will only expand our commitment to experiential student leadership.”
“We have long admired the passion and commitment of our colleagues at STAND. The Aegis team is delighted to be joined by them in this merger,” says Dr James Smith, CEO of the Aegis Trust. “We know from experience just how important youth-led advocacy and peacebuilding are in breaking cycles of violence, and we look forward to working closely with our American colleagues not only for the Central African Republic, but ultimately for the prevention of mass atrocities wherever people are at risk.”