The USIP headquarters is abuzz with comings and goings. This week, we ran an event called "Frontline Diplomats and Development Workers: Balancing Mission and Risk in High Risk Environments", (a mouthful, I know) where leaders from different government agencies and NGOs discussed ensuring the safety of aid workers and ambassadors abroad. The event's topic hits close to home this week as our team dicussed a collegues upcoming trip to Afghanistan. We hope to coordinate with USIP staff on the ground in Kabul because, as I've learned from two weeks of international phone calls, the best way to understand something as complex as the legal system is to be dropped into the thick of it.
Unfortunately, the situation in Afghanistan is precarious. The Department of State has warned US citizens not to travel to Afghanistan and has restricted the movement of US government staff within the country. Last week, an employee of the NGO "Aga Khan" was kidnapped from a relatively safe Kabul street. As my collegue Tina says, "You can't do your job if you're not safe."
The events in Afghanistan highlight the difficulties associated with introducing a rule of law program in conflict affected states.I have seen, through meetings and seminars and events at USIP, the urgent need for rule of law in these places, but the implementation of such programs requires bravery. Yes, the programs require planning and funding and design, but when it comes to creating change in these fragile spaces, they require bravery. I'm honored to work for an organization that fosters bravery, inspires, bravery, and displays bravery in its everyday undertakings.
Speaking of bravery, I am exctied to be in DC during the soon-to-be historic sit-in that the House Democrats have staged in repsponse to the Orlando shootings. My status as a Floridian does not amplify the horror and saddness of the shooting for me: this is a national tragedy and we mourn as a nation. I stand with those people who want to have a conversation about gun control, not just a moment of silence.