First, I want to thank NetSquared for offering me and the Genocide Intervention Network the opportunity to attend this critical event. I had written out my introduction earlier this week, but due to a browser mishap lost nearly all of it and haven't had time to re-write it until now.
GI-Net is a nonprofit based in DC that is a little more than two years old. We began as a student group at Swarthmore College with an idea: to change the way the world responds to genocide. In her groundbreaking and Pulitzer Prize–winning book, “A Problem From Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide, Samantha Power surveys the U.S. response to genocides in the twentieth century and discovers that, above all, the reason the United States so often failed to act, or to act too late or ineffectively, was simply because there was no political will. In essence, it was easier for presidents and members of Congress to do nothing while genocide was being perpetrated and apologize for it later, than risk political capital taking action.
As a result of our origins as a student group, we have a strong history in using online social networking and viral campaigns, and this continues even as we branch out into other constituencies. In our first year of existence, we raised a quarter-million dollars for peacekeepers in Darfur — the only NGO to raise money for protection rather than humanitarian aid — primarily through student networks, both actual and virtual. In my work for GI-Net, I am heavily influenced by Howard Rheingold, Christian Crumlish's The Power of Many, Marty Kearns and Network-Centric Advocacy and similar movements.
How can online activism build a movement that prevents and stops genocide? Read on...