Who Is… Samantha Power?

Samantha Power addresses reporters on evidence of Syrian chemical weapons attacks collected by U.N. investigators.-photo by: Stan Honda

Personal Background and Education

Ambassador Power was born in Dublin, Ireland, and immigrated to the U.S. with her family at the age of nine.  She holds a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.  Power’s first profession was that of field journalist.  She covered the Yugoslav Wars and reported from Rwanda and Sudan.  Power was later the Founding Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government from 1998 to 2002.  Here, she also became the Ann Lindh Professor of Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy.  She is married to Cass Sunstein, and they have two children.

Professional Experience

On August 2nd, 2013, Dr. Samantha Power became the acting U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN (she replaced Susan Elizabeth Rice as the nominee in June) and a member of President Obama’s Cabinet.  Dr. Power’s previous posts under the Obama administration include Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights on the National Security Council from 2009 to 2013.  During this time she also directed the fledgeling Atrocities Prevention Board. In these positions, Power directed efforts toward UN reform, advocated for LGBT and women’s rights,  addressed human trafficking and the safeguarding of religious minorities.

Now, in case you are feeling a bit winded just from reading a resume (I know I am), there is a reason why Power’s work, and resulting appointment as U.N. Ambassador, is so crucial to organizations like Living Ubuntu and the victimized and oppressed around the globe… her unwavering commitment to human rights, specifically in the Middle East, North Africa, Sudan and Burma.

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Gration: We don’t have all the monitoring mechanisms that we need yet

Yesterday, Special Envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration and National Security Council Director, Samantha Power sat down with Jerry Fowler of the Save Darfur Coalition and Layla Amjadi of STAND.  They discussed a wide range of topics regarding the recently released policy by the Obama Administration.

Click here to watch the complete webcast.

Gration:  We don’t have yet all the monitoring mechanisms that we need.  When the NGOs were expelled, we lost some very valuable NGOs that we have not gotten back in yet…  And the fact is that while we’ve been able to compensate for food and water and healthcare and sanitation, some of the protection NGOs have not been able to get back in…

For us to objectively verify, we’re going to have to have different types of NGOs on the ground and more of those NGOs on the ground. And we’re going to have UNAMID with more freedom of movement and the ability to monitor better what’s happening on the ground, so that we can take action.  And those are the things we’re working on right now.

Other highlights that stuck out at me in this illuminating conference include:

  • Samantha Power mentioned that  everytime President Obama has sat down with Chinese President, Hu Jintao,  “this issue has been discussed”.
  • And Scott Gration mentioned that “a major impediment to [Darfuri] people returning home is the ‘pschological stuff’.”

I’m glad senior officials in the Administration recognize the deep impact of such trauma and how that affects peacemaking.

Hope Remains at IDP Camp’s Obama School

Photograph by Stop Genocide Now

Camp Djabal - Photograph by Stop Genocide Now

After Barack Obama was elected US president in November, School No. 1 at the Djabal refugee camp in Chad was renamed the Obama School.

NY Times writer and Darfur advocate Nicholas Kristof recently visited Djabal, home to thousands who have fled the genocide in Sudan.

Regarding the Obama School, Kristof writes –

It’s a pathetic building of mud bricks with a tin roof, and the windows are holes in the wall, but it’s caulked with hope that Obama may help end the long slaughter and instability in Sudan.

Is there reason for the residents of Djabal to be hopeful?

Kristof thinks so.

This Wednesday, the International Criminal Court will release its decision on issuing an arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. There is talk that top Sudanese officials may oust Bashir if a warrant is issued.

Additionally, several current US leaders back the Darfur cause, including President Barack Obama, VP Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and UN Ambassador Susan Rice. The Obama administration plans to conduct a review of the policy on Darfur led by human rights defender Samantha Power.

I agree with Kristof. Hope is not lost. Not for those living in Djabal. Not for the refugees in other Darfur IDP camps. And not for the millions around the world who refuse to turn a blind eye to the extermination of a people.

Darfur in the Media (But Not For Long)

Photograph by Stop Genocide Now

Photograph by Stop Genocide Now

With issues like the struggling economy and a new president dominating US news, media coverage of the Darfur crisis has been pretty slim.

However, Darfur was featured on a recent edition of ABC’s World News Tonight, aired on Sunday nights.

Reporter Bob Woodruff took a closer look at the conflict.

Click here to watch a video of the spotlight story – a mere two minutes, fifty-six seconds long.

Samantha Power at TED

Samantha Power recently spoke at TED about the world’s response to genocide 20th century.  And of Sergio Vieira de Mello, a Brazilian UN diplomat who for over 34 years negotiated with the world’s worst dictators and helped their people survive the crisis.

Watch her passionate talk below.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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