The Rohingya, R2P, and Civilian Protection (FPIF)

Imagine being forced to flee your home because the military is attacking and killing your neighbors, burning down your village, and raping and abducting your wife and children. You want to turn to your government for help, but it doesn’t even recognize you as a citizen. Your only options are to flee, or be killed. This is the plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar.

Read more at Foreign Policy in Focus…

We’re Still Here: Women’s March 2018.

Last year I headed to Washington, DC with a small group of ladies, not quite sure what to expect, but positive we wanted to be there to make our voices heard. What we experienced was history in the making. Millions of people taking to the streets across the world to protest the new American president, and the danger he posed to all of us. We knew we were ready to fight, but I don’t think anyone had a clue what this year had in store for us all.

I’ve been to other protests throughout 2017, for the Muslim Ban, Charlottesville, DACA–none of them as big, but all of them as impassioned. As I’m sure many of you have, I spent the year sending letters, emails, and making phone calls to Congress. The New York Times might not be handing their opinion pages over to The Resistance, but it is a thriving and mighty force in America right now. There has been a definite shift from the naive country we were on November 8, 2016, and the determined movement emerging today.

The feel was different at the Women’s March this year. Less trepidation, more determination. Fewer people were taking to the streets just because they felt like they had to, and more people were talking about their duty to be there. There was the sense last year that many people at the Women’s March had never been to a protest before. That it was their first time making a protest sign, learning the chants, figuring out how the crowd moved. That was not the case this year. One year into the Trump presidency, and we’re all seasoned activists now. This is no longer our first rodeo.



As you may recall, I went to last year’s protest intending on covering it as a journalist. As I became overwhelmed by the enormity of the event, I decided to simply pass around a notebook, asking others to write why they were marching. While it was an unplanned collection of stories last year, I decided it would be very interesting to repeat this year in New York. Below are a few of my favorite messages from the day:


I march because equality is for everyone and democracy is not a freebie. Our voices and actions matter.



I am outraged and disgusted by what is happening in our country. Most of the time I feel powerless. I embrace the opportunity to peacefully and actively express my discontent. And be surrounded by others who feel the same and also want better for all of us. – Melissa.



I march for all the young women strong enough to speak up against their abusers, including Kyle Stephens. And I march in hopes to change the institutions in place that allow the silencing of women to continue. – Kelsey



I march for the children of this country, future and present. May my daughters never have to say “me too.”



I march to teach my daughter what liberation looks like. No limits!



Enjoy a little Fogo Azul as you read the rest of the messages from the women (and men) of this year’s march.


I march because I have a voice, and I march for those who don’t. I march because dissent is patriotic and because women will not be silenced.


I march for freedom, equality, respect – for all of us! Time’s up!!


I march to walk the walk! For love of life.


For justice, freedom, and respect for all beings. We can do better than this.




To stand with others in resistance…against what separates and divides…To be with others for love, justice and equality. The values that never die.


Women will birth our future! So behave!


I march to save our environment, stand up for DACA, and against bigotry and to IMPEACH TRUMP.


I march because everyone deserves to be heard and treated with respect. We have a chance to make it better and if we don’t speak up we’ll be even more fucked.




I march to make my voice heard…and because it’s 2018 and this shit shouldn’t be happening anymore!


To set an example for my son, a strong feminist mother 🙂


After seeing pictures from the march last year and surviving one year of this damn presidency, I thought it was important to do this on behalf of my peers, my family, and the world. – Debi


I march here today because I believe in equality for all regardless of their gender, race, or beliefs. In addition, I believe that every woman should have the right to dress the way they want, the right to do what they want to do without their being judged. Let’s end rape culture!! – Pema (15)



I march to make sure that there are masses, and so that the masses make the 6 o’clock news, and the cable news because that’s the only language this (not my) president speaks. – Kate


I march for everyone who does not have a voice (or feels they do not have a voice). For my daughter. For all women. For immigrants. For the earth. For LGBTQ folks. To show this administration that we do not approve. To RESIST.


We march because…
we can
silence is compliance
our students and kids deserve better.


We march for:
Black Lives Matter
Women’s Rights
Encouraging All to Vote
Getting Trump and the corruption out of the White House




For the restoration of our democracy, increasingly becoming authoritarianism.


I march because there is too much at stake not to.


I’m marching for human rights, DACA, women, equal pay, BLM. – Dionne


I march in resistance against all linked oppression of marginalized groups.




I march to recognize people’s power to change through voice and vote.


Because I am sick of being marginalized and discriminated against. #BLM


Because females are the future, and girls just want to have fun-damental human rights. Is that so hard?!?!


Because it feels beautiful and right…and completely necessary.




Surrounded by like-minded people, seeing all the things people stand for, hearing the conversations about progress and change is the most inspiring! It motivates me to make some real change!


More women please. – Carmen


To show resistance in the face of evil!


So that we remind each other that there are like-minded folks who are angry and mobilizing.


To support my friends and family.


So love will triumph over insecurity.


For a healthier human race.


To play a (however small) role in ridding us of the worst president evah!




Because I’m outraged. I refuse to accept Trump as normal.


I march for future generations and my ancestors. – Emma


For those who can’t and never could. – Jessie G


I march so I can say I helped women earn their rights. Part of the solution, not the problem. – Hannah




I march to support women’s rights!


I am marching for my mother, my daughter, and all women I love!


I march for our daughters, for humanity, for our country. – Nancy


I march because we all matter.


I march for the future. – Michele


For humanity!


To speak truth to power. – Kenny


I march to honor the women who marched before me and so that those that come after me don’t have to. I march precisely BECAUSE I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO!


I march for all human beings to live free of corruption and exploitation. – Matt


The Book is Out!!

Hey everyone! So, it’s been a long time coming, but the day is finally here! “When We Let People Die,” an essay collection detailing the  many failures and complications of the Responsibility to Protect, is finally out today. We have published the introduction in its entirety over at The Mantle, and I would encourage you to give it a read, and then head on over to your favorite e-reader site and pick up a copy. I look forward to hearing what you think!!

Read the introduction here.

On Borders – A Virtual Roundtable

Border_Wall_at_Tijuana_and_San_Diego_Border copyIn The Mantle’s sixth virtual roundtable, I brought together three experts to discuss borders, their purpose, and who they serve. Roundtable participants delve into topics such as the shift to more solidified, violent borders post – 9/11, border identities, and the dichotomy of closed borders in a globalized society.

Check out the full roundtable discussion here.

Will the Veto Ever Be Restrained (The Mantle)


Over the last 16 years, the question of how to operationalize the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), bringing it “from theory to practice,” has been the focus of great debate among UN member states and human rights organizations. Created as a response to the devastating genocide in Rwanda, the international community has struggled to find a way to enforce this non-binding principle aimed at helping states to prevent and respond to mass atrocities around the world.

Yet, the question remains, how do you make states act for the benefit of those outside their own borders without the force of international law? How do you convince states to stand up for those who need their help, even when the situation is complicated, difficult, and not necessarily directly beneficial to their own people?

Read more at The Mantle…

Syrians need us to remember our humanity

I’m having a hard time with humanity today. I’m having a hard time understanding how eyes can be so closed, and hearts can be so cold. I’m having a hard time understanding why living in a different country makes you less deserving of life.

As news stories, videos, and pictures spread of the most recent chemical weapons attack in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, the hashtag #SyriaHoax began to trend on Twitter (It is, in fact, still trending.). I won’t repost here what those tweets contained, as they don’t deserve repeating. Suffice it to say they were ugly, sad, and full of dangerous lies.

It is unimaginable to me that someone would, with a straight face, say these atrocities aren’t happening. That these images are fake. I just honestly have no words.

I’m not going to offer a policy laden post here. I’m not going to tell you how our governments should respond — although I do have thoughts about that.

I simply have a request. Those of us who have the privilege of ignoring such atrocities. Those of us who live in peaceful countries, with no fear of war, and no concept of what these people must be experiencing. Make the choice to pay attention. Make the choice to see these atrocities. Make the choice to see the Syrian people for who they are — people.


Here are a few stories I’ve collected from the past few days:

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 9.25.31 PMThis video is definitely hard to watch, but I think it’s important. This shows the immediate aftermath of the bombing, as well as the work of the White Helmets as they attempt to save people suffering from the chemical attack.

This father lost his 9 month-old twin babies, his wife, and 25 members of his extended family.

This 13 year-old boy watched 19 of his family members die in front of him. That he survived is a miracle.


As I wrote this post, the US launched more than 50 tomahawk missiles at Homs. This scares me. There is no strategy here. There is no plan. My thoughts are with the people of Syria, as I believe even darker days are yet to come.

The Women I Marched With…



I went to Washington D.C. with a group of ladies. Some I’ve known, some I met for the first time on November 12, 2016, as we took to the streets of New York to protest the election of Donald Trump. Marching that weekend didn’t feel so much like a decision as a necessity. It was the first moment of catharsis I’d had since that fateful Tuesday.

Marching on Washington this weekend felt very much the same way. I’m not sure I ever really made the decision whether or not to go. I simply asked, “who is going with me?” As luck would have it, seems we were all headed to D.C.

Since November, I’ve been asked often why I’m marching. I find the question difficult to answer – not because I can’t think of a reason, but because I simply have so many I’m not sure where to start. This inability to put into words something that weighs on me so heavily, sparked a desire to discover why exactly everyone else was marching.

So, I thought I would go to D.C. not simply as a citizen, but as a journalist. I fully intended to cover the march, take pictures, interview folks, and do a full write up. As we arrived though, it became clear this thing was bigger than we’d ever imagined. The introvert in me was overwhelmed, so I took out a notebook, wrote “Why I March” on the front, and began to pass it around to those standing near me in the crowd.

Truth be told, after about 11am, even that became too much and I decided to set down all thoughts of being a journalist, and just became a full participant, taking in the whole, overwhelming experience.

What I’ve included below is a collection of the responses written in the notebook (most unsigned by their authors), and what I managed to (poorly) capture in photo. I hope it gives at least a slight glimpse into what this weekend meant for us all.


Why I March…

“I march for all women…even those who don’t yet realize they need to.” – Janis

“For the sane hearts that need support in times of bigotry, racism, misogyny and apathy.”

“I march to put those in power on notice – we will RESIST!”



“I march to DEFEAT TYRANNY!”

“For equality for all.”


“I march to defeat Donald Trump and raise consciousness of equality.”



“I march to preserve everything I’ve worked a lifetime for.” – Marie

“Because we reached a crossroads – some push us back to the past, but we must go forward! Free.” – MA

“I march for EQUAL rights…for us to continue moving forward not back to the ‘old’ white man’s ways. This is my country – I will not go quietly into the hate. Love is the answer.”


“I march to show my 3 sons it’s time to make a difference and promote love and equality for all.”

“I march for LOVE!”

” I march for my daughters, so they will know the power of their voice.”


“I march for a better future for my son.”


“For civil rights.”


“I march because peaceful and thoughtful resistance and love are a woman’s work. It’s a woman’s duty.”

“To celebrate human rights and make a better world (nation USA) for our children.”

“For the dignity of ALL people, human rights, BLM, LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, etc.”


“For every child because whether they have cancer, looking for a better life, or need to love each other, my son will be taught to be accepting of everyone.”

“I march for my niece, for my friends’ daughters. So disappointed that this man is now President. I could not just sit back. RESIST!”

“I march for human rights, for Mother Earth, for my daughter and my grandkids.”


“I am a snowflake, but WE are an avalanche.” – Bill, Kate & Sidney

” I march for what is right – for the voices that need to be heard – for my nieces, so that they know they are loved, supported and strong. I march for LOVE!!”

“I march today in support of: Women’s Rights, Reproductive Rights, Immigrant Rights, and…AN END TO TYRANNICAL RULE!” – Joy


“I march to stand up for all…to be counted.” – Ron

“I march for my Muslim family – my interracial, interfaith, bicultural daughters with differing abilities but the same forceful potential to achieve their dreams.”

“I march to stand with the other loving, open, smart Americans, who are the majority! And to demonstrate the strength of women! We are stronger than Trump!”




Finding Humor in Unspeakable Evil (The Mantle)

unspeakable book coverWhen you’re sitting at a cafe reading a book called A Journey to the Dark Heart of Nameless Unspeakable Evil, people tend to get curious. In response to the side-eye, I often found myself describing it as probably the only book you’ll ever read about mass atrocities that has you busting up laughing. At that point, the curiosity usually turned to confusion…which was my welcome cue to turn back to my reading. Read more…

From North Korea to Japan: Empowering Survivors of Gender-Based Violence

pan_panHere is a great interview I conducted last fall with activist and advocate Betsy Kawamura, founder of the non-profit Women4NonViolence in Peace+Conflict Zones. Ms. Kawamura has spent more than fifteen years working with survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, particularly women who have fled the violent regime in North Korea and are now living as refugees around the world. For this article—and for the work Ms. Kawamura does—gender-based violence is understood as violence targeted at a specific group based on their gender; often manifesting in acts of rape, forced prostitution, sexual assault, sex trafficking, and other similar crimes. As a survivor of gender-based violence herself, Kawamura is able to enlighten us not only on the experience of survivors, but also why it is crucial to address sexual and gender-based violence as a matter of international politics and international law.

Click here to read the interview!