Yesterday, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James K. Glassman spoke about efforts to empower youth to push back against violence and oppression. An excerpt from the transcript follows: UNDER SECRETARY GLASSMAN: Thanks, Sean. About six weeks ago, I traveled to Colombia at the suggestion of my colleague Jared Cohen, to meet with some young people who last year started a movement on Facebook. And it was actually started by a 33-year-old unemployed computer technician named Oscar Morales who was, just like so many other Colombians, fed up with what the FARC, the violent extremist organization that’s been around since 1964, was doing to his country. He had no help from the government or no knowledge by the Colombian Government that he was going to do this, certainly no involvement by the U.S. Government either. He started a group on Facebook which mushroomed into a membership of over 400,000 people. And at the same time, some of the members suggested let’s have a march, let’s build a global movement, and that’s what happened. In February, this movement, the No Mas FARC, No More FARC Movement, which transformed itself into the Million Voices Against the FARC movement, put a million people into the streets in Bogotá, another 11 million into the streets in 190 cities around the world.
So I wanted to talk to Oscar and really get an idea of how this happened and see whether there were applications in other parts of the world. And as a result of those conversations and the work that Jared has done, between December 3rd and December 5th, that is to say next week, a conference is being held in New York City at the Columbia University Law School that will bring together 17 organizations around the world that currently have an online presence similar to the Million Voices Against the FARC Movement, but usually at a much lower level – 17 of these organizations, bringing them together with private sector partners, including Facebook, Google, MTV, AT&T, Howcast, Access 360 Media – and I may be forgetting some, and Jared will remind me. Columbia University is also – the Columbia University Law School is also a partner. And the idea is put all these people together, share best practices, produce a manual that will be accessible online and in print to any group that wants to build a youth empowerment organization to push back against violence and oppression around the world.
Also, a foundation will be created called the Alliance of Youth Movements. And a hub, an electronic hub, again, anyone will have access to it around the world. Now, this conference – the entire conference will be streamed by MTV and by Howcast. We are – we at the State Department are one partner. In fact, we take a back seat to what the private sector is doing, which is just fabulous. But we’re happy to have gotten this thing started, at any rate.
Some of these groups are anti-violence, in the sense of anti-crime. Some of them have a more direct anti-violent extremist cast to what they do. They’re from South Africa, from the UK, from the Middle East. We’re also bringing in seven groups of observers from countries – organizations that do not have a major online presence, from Iraq, Afghanistan.
You may read the complete transcript here.