But campaigning NGOs, as distinct from those with real development programs in the field, almost have to be radical. If they stop denouncing big organizations, nobody will send them cash or quote them in the newspapers. Partly for this reason, and partly out of a likeable conviction that the status quo is never good enough, most NGOs do not have an off switch. You can do everything possible to meet them halfway, but they will still demonstrate outside your building. Of course, there will be grown-up groups like Oxfam, World Vision, or the World Wildlife Fund that may accept your olive branch. But they will be the exceptions, and they may cooperate only cautiously (Sebastian Mallaby, NGO's: Fighting Poverty, Hurting the Poor).
After a few more minutes of contemplation, I realized that although this phenomenon of misguided activism may be prevalent in the human rights advocacy world as a whole, I have not encountered such an issue at STAND. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I am the Advocacy Training Coordinator of STAND, a student anti-genocide constituency. Although no organization is perfect, I believe STAND has taken great strides towards forming and supporting nuanced policy that purposely avoids the pitfalls of uninformed advocacy. Perhaps it is because we are comprised solely of students and thus automatically perceived as an outsider of the “grown-up” class of human rights organizations that we are hyper aware of every action we take. Although as a member of STAND I am most certainly biased in my opinion, I am not the only person who has noticed STAND’s high level of credibility. Just this past week, STAND Student Director Daniel Solomon was invited to the White House to speak on a panel discussing the new Atrocities Prevention Board, which speaks highly of the credibility of STAND. As I have become more involved with STAND and learned more about its inner workings, I have seen the high level of thoughtfulness and intention that is put into each and every action we take. Thus, while STAND may be assumed to pursue misguided and uninformed activism because of our student-based composition, I believe that, perhaps as a result of these presumptions, we strive toward informed, nuanced activism.