WFPG Voices
VOICES, is a forum that highlights the expertise of those who make up and support the organization. WFPG members and partners are invited to submit blog posts on international affairs and foreign policy topics, women's leadership, and career advancement. Posts represent the reflections and personal views of members and guest bloggers and not those of their employers or of the WFPG. Interested in submitting a post? Guidelines | Membership
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Unbending Courage: The Afghan Female Tactical Platoon
Emma Ulvin, Student, George Washington University
“Break Point": Elina Svitolina on Sports Diplomacy During War
Lexi Plaisted, Student, George Washington University
International Principles on Responsible AI
Emma Ulvin, Student, George Washington University
The International Order, Ukraine, and Other Top Priorities
Madison Dwyer, Student, Georgetown University
Real Talk: Realities of Refugee Assistance and Resettlement
Tara Boyd, Student, George Washington University
Threats and Challenges to Global Governance in the 21st Century
Madison Dwyer, Student, Georgetown University
Protecting Ukraine: Public-Private Defense of Allies Abroad
Madison Dwyer, Student, Georgetown University

Working in immigrant resettlement and advocacy in Central Florida - a statement that usually elicits a sympathetic cringe or eyebrow raise from others when heard for the first time - is a very hands-on, typically unsung experience. Walking into a well-lit, professionally broadcasted event on immigration policy in Washington, DC, was almost disorienting – things look different from ten stories off the ground. Still, this conversation at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) targeted a universal truth, one which is increasingly impossible to ignore whether you are an asylum seeker in Gainesville or a policymaker on Capitol Hill: America’s immigration system is fundamentally broken.

“Legal Immigration: Challenges and Promising Paths Forward,” was opened by Jack Malde, Senior Policy Analyst at the BPC. Malde broke down key aspects of the invariably complicated US immigration system, focusing on visa and green card application backlogs. The current immigration system, instituted by Congress over thirty years ago, maintains caps on the number of distributable visas and green cards that matched the immigration demand of 1986 and have not been adapted since. This impacts not only those applying for residence for the first time, but also those with temporary visas who are awaiting their turn for permanent status. Consequently, this creates a bottleneck in migrant processing, as demand greatly exceeds the available amount of visas and green cards. The BPC’s research has found that clearing these backlogs would generate trillions of dollars in GDP gains, while solidifying status for millions of migrants who have followed the rules of the immigration system but are no closer to achieving permanent status.

The panel, which was moderated by Andrew Kreighbaum, an Immigration Reporter at Bloomberg Law, featured Jon Baselice, Vice President of Immigration Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Martin Kim, Director of Immigration Advocacy at Asian Americans Advancing Justice, David Bier, Associate Director of Immigration Studies at the Cato Institute, and Dip Patel, Founder of Improve the Dream.

Bier, an expert in current migration policy, began the panel by explaining that there are four options for an individual seeking to migrate to the US: the refugee program, which allows 25,000 admissions out of one million applications per year, the “diversity lottery,” family sponsorship, or employer sponsorship. Bier emphasized that the likelihood of legally achieving admission to the United States is extremely slim and that it is almost impossible for one to even “get in line.”  The inability of the current immigration system to process or grant requests for temporary visas leaves a majority of applicants without any feasible path to permanent residence.

Baselice focused his input on the economic impacts of failing to process economic visa applicants and allow new migrants into the country as workers. Only accounting for adults, there are currently 1.3 million individuals in the employment-based backlog, 93% of whom are established employees working in the US on a temporary status. As Bier pointed out, an applicant is statistically much more likely to die while waiting for a green card than ever coming close to receiving one. With employees uncertain of their ability to remain in the country or achieve permanent status, employers lack the ability to attract and retain workers, creating an intense talent exodus from the US. In response, some major companies are opting to move their offices abroad. The current visa caps are completely divorced from economic realities, Baselice stated.  He emphasized how there is proof of concept for international competitors to ‘poach’ the American labor force stuck in visa lines: in June, the Canadian government advertised the availability of special Canadian work permits to those currently stuck waiting in the US employment migration process. The 10,000 available spots were filled in a day.

Notably, the conversation around employment-based visas almost exclusively focused on “skilled” workers, or those with advanced degrees or qualifications. All panelists advocated for increased admittance of this demographic into the country but noticeably failed to address the 8.1 million undocumented workers currently composing the US workforce. According to New American Economy, over 36% of the entire American agricultural labor force, a total of nearly 250,000 individuals, are currently undocumented. The panel danced around this massive component of creating practical and comprehensive immigration reform in current contexts.

Obtaining residence through family-based sponsorship is also a virtually insurmountable process. When a child brought to the US on a family-sponsored visa turns 21, they are kicked off of their parent’s case and must reapply for any type of status, with 610,000 such applications per year. As Patel, a Dreamer who founded the nonprofit Improve the Dream to advocate for other DACA recipients, pointed out, it is commonplace for a child to come to the US legally, grow up here, and still have no viable path to citizenship or permanent residence. Some aged-out individuals are forced to self-deport, which Patel exemplified through one such instance of a registered nurse who had to flee the US, where she was raised and educated, in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic. The near impossibility of the American immigration system is making it increasingly unpopular internationally, Patel concluded. Today, less than 10% of those looking to emigrate internationally attempt to go to the US, a historically low percentage.

The panelists turned to what they believe to be both short and long-term solutions to these problems in the immigration system. Bier referenced humanitarian parole, a short-term solution in which asylum seekers can be legally and financially sponsored by private citizens for up to two years while awaiting their turn for an asylum hearing. This system alone has relocated 500,000 individuals from the southern border to cities across the country, where migrants begin integrating into communities and the workforce. However, this is nowhere near a complete solution, as humanitarian parole does not include a path to permanent citizenship and places responsibilities on willing private citizens to provide funding and assistance that could instead be allocated from the government. Still, it could be a base model for a new approach to immigration that, with significant modification, would allow new arrivals a path to apply for and achieve long-term residence and status. As Baslice noted during the panel, any immigration reform must contain mechanisms that allow policies to evolve and remain efficient and relevant at the time of its application, a feature which current systems glaringly lack.

In the concluding Q&A portion of the event, an audience member pressed the panel on a notably unaddressed issue: regardless of how much bipartisan support and credible research there is for legal immigration reform, will politicians ever be willing to give up the political capital of fear-mongering around immigrants and advocating for further migration restriction? Though blanching slightly, all members of the panel maintained their confidence in achieving support for increasing pathways to legal immigration, as long as facts about the current situation continued to be made common knowledge. Bier answered that while many Americans fear chaos at the border, more legal pathways to citizenship will drastically reduce the number of individuals stuck there, reducing reasons for manufactured panic.

Creating such common knowledge about migration realities and overcoming political alarmism are crucial to setting the stage for comprehensive immigration reform. In the foreseeable future, one which will be marked by exponentially increasing flows of migrants fleeing climate disaster, conflict, and economic instability, creating functional systems for immigrating into the US is vital. Action on migration reform is no longer only the responsibility of the on-the-ground organizers and volunteers, but an issue that necessitates initiative from the highest levels of government, if the US seeks to create policy that will adequately respond to the geopolitical and economic conditions of the present and future.

You can watch a recording of the event by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) here

Estelle Erwich is a student at the University of Florida and a Communications Intern at the WFPG.

There are moments when, in the unfolding of a story, the listener becomes struck by the vast chasm of lived experience between individuals, and a stunned silence settles over the audience in sincere deference to the speaker. That was the feeling in the room when, on July 31, we heard from Hawa Haidari, Farida Mohammadi, and Mahnaz Akbari of the Afghan Female Tactical Platoon (FTP), an elite force of Afghan women who fought alongside the United States military in Afghanistan. They have since resettled in the United States, facing new challenges and increasing uncertainty.

The Women’s Foreign Policy Group, in partnership with the PenFed Foundation, Paul Hastings, Sisters of Service, and With Honor Action, held the exclusive event at the National Press Club to honor the resilience of the women in the FTP. The event featured an intimate fireside chat with FTP members, followed by a panel discussion with leading experts and military officials, exploring the lessons learned from the FTP program and ways to support the FTP members now in the United States.

Alexa Chopivsky, Executive Director of the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, started the evening with opening remarks, introducing the audience to the women who “exercised relentless spirit and unmatched strength during hardship.” Then, General Joseph Votel, Former Commander of the United States Central Command, enraptured the audience with his keynote speech and spoke of the immense tenacity demonstrated by the Afghan women and Americans of the Cultural Support Team (CST), stating that their “impact was legend.” He reminded the audience of the grave situation in Afghanistan today, expressing that the United States and our allies have no reasonable recourse than to do the right thing and support democracy and human rights abroad.

James Schenck, CEO of the PenFed Foundation and the President and CEO of the PenFed Credit Union, shared General Votel’s sentiments. Passionately retelling the story of how the American female soldiers of the Cultural Support Team and their colleagues worked relentlessly to bring FTP members to the United States during the fall of Kabul, Schenck noted that of the 68 FTP members, 43 were successfully evacuated, but only 11 have been granted asylum. Facing tremendous hardship and grieving the loss of their loved ones back in Afghanistan while adapting to a new environment, Schenck urged the audience to “put yourself in their shoes.” He emphasized that the FTP members bring invaluable “grace, value, and work ethic to their communities in America,” and with that, introduced our moderator for the evening, Amanda Ripley, investigative journalist and bestselling author, to begin the fireside chat with the Afghan FTPs.

Ripley brought both candor and levity to the discussion, introducing the speakers following an ardent proclamation: “I have never, ever gotten the privilege to work on a story that so changed my own conscious and subconscious ideas about Afghan women, about female soldiers, and about refugees.”

Hearing first from FTP member Hawa Haidari, the scene unfolded: all-day training and high-stakes missions alongside American and Afghan special forces, searching homes for Taliban commanders and hidden weapons, and navigating the security risks of women and children. The FTP filled a vital need for a tactical response to religious and traditional barriers that barred male soldiers from extracting information from women and children regarding important targets. Speaking to Rebekah Edmonson, former Cultural Support Team member and Program Manager of the Afghan Rescue and Resettlement Program, about her initial apprehensions regarding the FTP, she candidly explained that she realized that “they [FTP members] needed to be in the lead… it took me time to realize we’re in this together.”

Not only did the Afghan female soldiers of the FTP have to navigate the constant threat of the Taliban and unimaginable risk to themselves and their loved ones, but they also had to navigate a society that disapproved of women in the military, even among their male Afghan colleagues. Farida Mohammadi explained that the FTP had to prove themselves to their male counterparts who did not believe that women had the same level of work ethic. To this, Mohammadi commented that the FTP “did a better job,” to agreeable laughter from the audience. She clarified: “Fighting the Taliban and ISIS was hard, but fighting the dirty minds and tradition was harder.”

Despite these challenges, nothing proved itself as difficult for the evacuated FTP members as starting over in the United States following the fall of Kabul. Speaking of this day, Mohammadi grew somber, detailing her harrowing journey at the airport in Kabul, arriving at a refugee camp in the UAE, and months later at a camp in Fort Pickett, until she finally made it to Pennsylvania where she currently resides. Haidari painfully explained how multiple close family members have been arrested and captured by Taliban forces. She stated how difficult it was to start from ground zero and expressed the deep desire for FTP members to join the U.S. military and obtain green cards to build a stable life and hopefully bring their families to safety.

Following the fireside chat, a short interlude video by the PenFed Foundation set the stage for the next part of the evening, which consisted of a panel discussion with Ambassador Adela Raz, former Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States and the United Nations; Mary Kolars, Lead Advisor of the FTP and Cultural Support Team Program Manager; Tom Seaman, Legislative Director of With Honor; and Mahnaz Akbari, former Commander of the FTP; moderated by Jennifer Griffin, Chief National Security correspondent at the Pentagon for Fox News.

In the panel discussion, Griffin asked about training, and FTP member Mahnaz Akbari explained how it involved fast-roping out of helicopters, shooting, searching, and all the tough physical exertion demanded of highly skilled soldiers, identical to the training of other special forces teams. Akbari remarked that all missions were dangerous, making a special note of a 2015 mission that resulted in the loss of many soldiers’ lives. To this, Mary Kolars interjected, saying: “She is humble. That mission, she came out on a rope. Helicopter hovering anywhere from 30 to 70 feet and slid down a rope under gunfire. Not a lot of U.S. service members had done [that]... Taking the fight directly to the enemy and that was a huge target and a huge win for the United States as well as the Afghan people. She is being humble.” The audience broke out in a long applause.

The discussion shifted after this to a morose conversation about the day of the fall of Kabul. Kolars described working from the United States around the clock to evacuate the FTP members: “It was just chaos,” Kolars told the audience, “We were helpless knowing the Taliban was starting to go door-to-door directly looking for the Female Tactical Platoon.”

Turning to Ambassador Adela Raz, Griffin asked her about that fateful day, and Ambassador Raz was gripped by emotion: “I think my world started to crumble.” She described how she made dozens of calls to “every single representative my office could get a hold of,” a plea in each one: “Please make sure Kabul doesn’t fall.” She had faced Taliban rule before, knowing that it would come to an end. This time around, she explained, she felt hopeless and directionless.

Addressing the pertinent issue of asylum and immigration status in the United States, Griffin explained that 70,000 Afghans remain in limbo, navigating a broken immigration system and broken promises, which leaves her with a deep feeling of shame. Tom Seaman clarified that this is an example of how not just our immigration system but also our Congress is broken. Existing legislation, such as the Afghan Adjustment Act, which would help veterans of the Afghan military become nationals, has broad bipartisan support in the Senate. However, the Act was not included in the National Defense Authorization Act last year, as senators could not reach an agreement at the last minute. Now, there is a need for the Afghan Adjustment Act to be attached to a larger bill to move things forward. Seaman explained that this is our moral imperative and that there are significant national security implications “for not getting this right.” Seaman asked the audience: “Who will be the United States’ allies when this is how we treat them?”

Kolars explained that “they [FTP members] are so incredibly qualified to be in positions across the Department of Defense, the different intergovernmental agencies. There is a need.” The problem, despite their proven allegiance to the United States, their security clearances, and their desire to work for the U.S. military, lies in their inability to obtain asylum. Without visas, the FTP could be sent back to Afghanistan, where their lives would be at risk due to Taliban threats. Renata Parras, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Counsel at Paul Hastings, briefly explained how the FTP members in the U.S. are caught up in a “background vetting nightmare,” where there is a massive backlog of asylum applications needing to be adjudicated. The system, she said, “is clearly not working.”

That leaves Afghans in deep frustration and uncertainty about their futures. Ambassador Raz explained how other countries, such as Germany, the UK, Canada, and other Western nations, did not enact temporary holds but created pathways to permanent status for their Afghan refugees. The United States, so far, has not fulfilled its promises to the thousands of Afghan asylum seekers inside its borders.

Akbari explained to the audience that the mental health impacts on Afghan communities and individuals are astronomical. From her own personal experience, she said that despite working with the U.S. Army for more than ten years, she still has not received permanent status and has been unable to focus on building a life and securing her family’s safety. This is the reality for most Afghans in the United States, who suffer from poor mental health and anxieties regarding their futures. Explaining what the audience can do to help, Seaman and Kolars encouraged everyone to contact their members of Congress, advocate for Afghan refugees, find them in their community, and contribute what they can to organizations working to get them permanent status and safety in the United States.

Closing the heartfelt and deeply moving evening, Andrea McCarren, President of the PenFed Foundation, thanked the moderators and the panelists, and proclaimed “We need to act!” She ended the evening with a promise to the courageous women who have fought and put their lives on the line for justice, democracy, and a free Afghanistan: “I will use every ounce of my energy to fight for you as you fought for this country and my family. Thank you.”

You can watch a recording of the event by C-SPAN here, and view photos from the event here.

Emma Ulvin is a student at the George Washington University and a Programs Intern at the WFPG.

Co-organized with the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, the Women’s Foreign Policy Group (WFPG) hosted the exclusive event ‘Ukrainian Tennis Champion Elina Svitolina on Sports Diplomacy During War’ on Thursday, July 27th. Fresh off of an awe-inspiring run at Wimbledon, and with only a few days left until her following showout at the Citi Open, former World No. 3 Ukrainian tennis champion Elina Svitolina sat down with Margaret Brennan, Chief Foreign Affairs correspondent at CBS, to discuss the trials and tribulations of competing as a world-class athlete while her home country remains embroiled in conflict.

Welcoming remarks from Alexa Chopivsky, WFPG Executive Director, addressed the current status of the war in Ukraine, applauding Svitolina’s integrity in times of utmost struggle for Ukrainians worldwide. Commending Svitolina’s power and resilience, Chopivsky called upon the enduring Ukrainian adage: “If you want something done, give it to a Ukrainian woman.” Chopivsky introduced Elina Svitolina as a fighter for her country on and off the tennis court.

Brennan began the conversation by confirming the safety of Svitolina’s family at home in Odesa. Brennan then addressed Svitolina’s incredible comeback after giving birth to her daughter in late 2022. Any athlete’s return to play after childbirth can be difficult. Svitolina aptly noted the struggles of this uphill battle of a return to competitive tennis, stating, “With the right mindset, it is possible. Women are so strong, we don't even know how strong we are.” In response to Brennan asking what Svitolina wishes to teach her daughter about what it means to be Ukrainian, Svitolina stated, ‘the spirit,’ referencing the unique Ukrainian strength of patriotism and perseverance.

Svitolina’s strong performances at Roland-Garros and Wimbledon accelerated her rise up the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings. Defeating World No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinal of Wimbledon brought an abundance of attention to Svitolina’s upward climb. However, Svitolina’s main appearances in news headlines came from relentless claims of unsportsmanlike behavior after her loss to Belarusian player Aryna Sabalenka in the quarterfinal of the French Open and her defeat of Belarusian former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka at Wimbledon. Svitolina, alongside several other Ukrainian tennis players, personally decided not to shake hands with Russian and Belarusian players, which many critics have labeled as inappropriate and overly political. WTA formally clarified this confusion in June, reiterating that a post-match handshake is not mandatory. In conversation, Svitolina emphasized how her decision is unilaterally personal. She expressed her hope that other tennis agencies will also support this individual choice for all athletes.

While many avid fans and competitive players view sports as a ‘unifier,’ ‘politics-free zone,’ and an ‘escape’ from politics, Svitolina emphasized that we live in a time where Ukrainians are facing unimaginable hardship and brutality and that “We cannot act normal.” Her stance on sports diplomacy during the war exemplifies her commitment to being a fighting voice for Ukrainians on and off the court. Her decision to abstain from the traditional post-match handshake with Russian and Belarusian players stems from her frustration with those who have not expressed support for Ukraine in a timely and public manner and those who have condoned the belligerent actions of Russia.

After discussing Svitolina’s climb up the WTA rankings, Brennan redirected the conversation around the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, asking Svitolina how she can stay focused on tennis in such dismal times for her family and friends. In response, Svitolina explained that she draws her fighting spirit and unbreakable strength from her fellow Ukrainians at home – “I know how to hit the ball, how to move on the court, but the motivation, that’s where, you know, you can struggle a bit.”

The Elina Svitolina Foundation, founded in 2019 to support aspiring Ukrainian tennis players, is central to Svitolina’s activism and her efforts to support Ukraine in times of strife. The foundation’s mission focuses on providing accommodations, food, and training for Ukrainian tennis youth scattered across Europe due to persistent violence and war in their home country and supporting their athletic endeavors. In an emotional moment for Svitolina and the crowd, a video from the Elina Svitolina Foundation was shown, refocusing the conversation on the reality of children’s struggles in Ukraine. Several children spoke of the treacherous conditions in Ukraine, recalling explosions that threatened their lives and destroyed tennis courts. Despite these hindrances, their goals for the future remain strong–to win Grand Slams and become professional tennis players. Svitolina emphasized the foundation’s efforts to assist with relocation, mental health struggles, and future tournament plans for young tennis players.

Ultimately, Svitolina called for her professional tennis peers to demonstrate support and be vocal about the ongoing war in Ukraine. Though many players support privately, she made a call to action for known tennis players to be loud in their communications and calls for donations. She additionally demonstrated a desire for the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and other instrumental tennis agencies to support Ukrainian athletes and their right to make personal decisions on sportsmanship during wartime.

Brennan then posed questions from a live web audience, including one from Anatasya in Kyiv, who asked how Svitolina maintains her resilience. Svitolina explained how every time she steps on the court, she seeks to win and hopes to bring that feeling of victory to Ukrainians.

Closing remarks from Atlantic Council’s Frederick Kempe noted Svitolina’s perseverance and exemplary sportsmanship in challenging times for all Ukrainian athletes. Kempe enthusiastically supported Svitolina in her debut run at the DC Citi Open and praised her “world-class athletic performance” and her ability to set the standard for effective sports diplomacy.

Svitolina is a shining example of sports diplomacy in a globalized world, standing firm to her patriotism and love for tennis. “As a Ukrainian, I cannot be silent,” she said. “I want to scream everywhere I can and use my voice [to] the fullest.”

You can view pictures from the event here.

Lexi Plaisted is a student at the George Washington University and a Programs Intern at the WFPG.

In celebration of the first anniversary of International Women in Diplomacy Day, declared by the United Nations to be commemorated on June 24th, the Women’s Foreign Policy Group (WFPG) and the Embassy of Slovenia co-hosted a special event showcasing Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and her book: Lessons from the Edge.

Darja Ferlež, the Deputy Chief of Mission for Slovenia, made introductory remarks before Alexa Chopivsky, the Executive Director of WFPG, sat down with Yovanovitch to discuss her experiences and advice as a successful woman in the foreign service.

Yovanovitch spent most of her career concealing the discrimination she faced in her profession but began sharing them with the publication of her book in March of 2022. Early in her career, she faced career progression discrimination prior to Alison Palmer’s class action lawsuit against the State Department. After overcoming that hurdle, she continued to face misogyny from her colleagues, such as when her all-male public affairs team asked her to present herself in a housewife-esque manner as the new ambassador to Kyrgyzstan.

The largely female audience could not help but laugh and shake their heads as Yovanovitch shared the anecdote about the PR officer who wanted her to begin an interview with a plate of cookies in hand. In spite of this shared commiseration, Yovanovitch recognized the importance of male champions in attaining gender equality. She pointed out that the Palmer case also benefited men who shared their female counterparts’ desires for better balance between work and home life.

Despite this recognition, it was obvious to the audience that Yovanovitch is passionate about uplifting women. She spoke of the “superpowers” that women can bring to diplomacy, such as their tendency for empathy and patience. Yovanovitch contradicted the negative perception of these qualities in the foreign policy field. She explained that empathy is important when asking foreign leaders to make difficult decisions because it assists in understanding how to persuade them. As a quieter person, Yovanovitch emphasized that it is not how much you say at the decision-making table that matters, but rather one’s listening capability and the importance of the one thing you do say.

When asked about her approach to uplifting women and bringing more women to decision-making tables, the former Ambassador quoted George Shultz, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State. She explained the importance of making change in smaller increments since “diplomacy is often the kind of career where…you’re tending, you’re cutting back the weeds, you’re planting the seeds, but sometimes you don’t see the results for years.”

One of the ways Yovanovitch has empowered women globally is through the mentoring programs she established in Kyrgyzstan and Armenia that paired young women with local female mentors with common interests. Despite the paternalistic traditional values that affect women’s participation in civil society and academia in these countries, the women felt inspired to continue building their networks and support systems once the U.S. Embassy's program ended, which was always the ultimate goal.

Part of WFPG’s mission is the value of mentorship of rising leaders. Chopivsky and audience members were interested in Yovanovitch’s advice on working in and navigating the foreign service as a woman.

She expressed the importance of working hard, developing expertise, and exercising good judgment. A diplomat’s job is often to find a happy compromise between countries and to act before having all the information, consistently utilizing effective judgment.

Yovanovitch reiterated the importance of communication and listening, emphasizing that women should confide in their friends and female colleagues. Throughout most of her career, Yovanovitch and her female counterparts kept their experiences with discrimination to themselves in fear of being blacklisted. Yovanovitch cautioned the audience to “take the temperature” of each situation they face because there are risks to confronting discrimination. However, there is power in the masses and she has seen the positive impact of sharing her stories.

Yovanovitch has been praised for how she has conducted herself with the highest degree of integrity during her diplomatic career. The former Ambassador encouraged the audience to always approach their jobs with integrity as ultimately, “you need to look yourself in the mirror and be comfortable with what you’re doing.”

When asked about her thoughts on the future, Yovanovitch started with her worries, which were numerous. Chiefly among them were her concerns regarding the need for new or reformed international organizations whose purposes no longer reflect the populations and issues the world is facing.

Despite her concerns, Yovanovitch assured the audience that she is hopeful about the future. She cited the resilience of women and their adaptability to recognize change, which she witnessed first-hand in the countries she served in. The former Ambassador believes that if we can bring more women to leadership roles, then those skills can be effectively translated into better foreign policy. Yovanovitch added that it isn’t just gender diversity that is needed in the foreign policy field – the more diversity at the decision-making table, the more effective and efficient policy can be.

The event was a success thanks to the hospitality of the Embassy of Slovenia, thoughtful moderation by Chopivsky, and Yovanovitch’s inspiring stories and advice. The celebration displayed the potential for a future built by female, collective, professional power in foreign policy just in time for International Women in Diplomacy Day. As Yovanovitch said, “diplomacy is not a solo sport, it’s a team sport and we need each other to get that final result.”

You can view pictures from the event here.

Caroline Estes is a recent graduate of the University of Georgia and a Programs Intern at the WFPG.

On May 25th, 2023, the Women’s Foreign Policy Group and Microsoft, partnered with the Atlantic Council’s GeoTech Center and the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy, hosted a panel on the increasingly imperative role of regulatory policy in AI and the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors in the international community. The event was held in Microsoft’s Innovation and Policy Center with a networking reception before the panel.

H.E. The program started with opening remarks by Kristi Rogers, Co-Chair of the Women’s Foreign Policy Group Board of Directors, who outlined WFPG’s mission to “strive to go beyond the headlines” by bringing top policy experts together to address dire global issues. Rogers introduced our moderator for the evening, Cat Zakrzewski, Technology Policy Reporter for The Washington Post.

Zakrzewski began by highlighting the “overnight success of ChatGPT” and Microsoft’s participation in the worldwide debate on the regulation of artificial intelligence technologies, specifically in reference to a 40-page report released by the company earlier that day which outlines a blueprint for AI regulation. Asking what this blueprint would look like, Natasha Crampton, Chief Responsible AI Officer at Microsoft, responded by describing how important it is to apply regulation at all appropriate levels of technology development and distribution, asserting that many laws already exist to add safeguards to AI technology. Crampton noted that cutting-edge AI is highly capable and novel, yet risky without safeguards and guiding principles.

Jennifer Bachus, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy at the U.S. Department of State, echoed these sentiments, explaining that guardrails must be placed to protect individual liberty and personal privacy. She further emphasized the need for the government and the private sector to work together, including companies that develop AI technology. Crampton added to this assertion, saying there are gaps in the conversation around AI technology, and described how important it is for government to have conversations with tech innovation leaders, as well as civil society and academia, to involve various stakeholders.

Specifically, during the discussion, speakers highlighted the importance of international cooperation in addressing the challenges of AI. Michelle S. Giuda, Director of the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy, stressed the significance of agreement among the EU, US, and the Asia Pacific region on core principles of AI regulation, including the US - EU Trade and Technology Council’s ongoing discussions on generative AI. Panelists unanimously agreed on the necessity of clarity, exact definitions, and cooperation, with Crampton pointing out the UK and Japan's alignment with the United States on regulatory frameworks, indicating an opportunity for a strong dialogue between allies and like-minded democracies.

Zakrzewski raised concerns about Chinese competition and the possibility of China surpassing the US in AI regulatory policies. Giuda strongly argued that there is a modern contest between democracy and authoritarianism, urging the need to align regulation with the pace of innovation. Bachus added that while China poses competition, other significant actors exist, reiterating the importance of collaboration between the EU and the US and rallying the US's closest allies.

Innovation and leadership were key topics discussed by the panel. Crampton raised concerns about hindering innovation while acknowledging the EU's sensible risk-based approach to AI technology. She emphasized that regulation and innovation can coexist but need clarity. Different applications and models require specific regulatory approaches. Giuda also acknowledged the EU's sensible approach but cautioned against government-led innovation without input from tech leaders. She emphasized the need for clear core principles on privacy and viewed it as an opportunity for tech developers to show leadership.

Trust between the government, AI companies, and users emerged as a significant topic during the panel, raised by both panelists and the audience. Giuda highlighted the existence of established trust models, citing the bipartisan Clean Network initiative announced by then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2020 to address cybersecurity concerns. She emphasized the importance of unity and utilizing “trust as a tool.” Giuda stressed the need for collaboration, reciprocity, transparency, and ongoing dialogue between the government, civil society, and innovation leaders.

All panelists touched on the gap in understanding and knowledge between tech and government. Crampton stressed that government officials must understand the basics of tech in their policy decision-making. With excitement, Giuda shared with the audience that the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy itself was founded on the need for diplomats and other government officials to have the necessary technical knowledge to make informed policy decisions so that they can better understand the national security implications of the use of tech. This sentiment was shared by Bachus, who emphasized that AI could enhance productivity in many sectors, including government.

Crampton stressed the importance of understanding AI and its applications. In response to an audience member’s concern about ChatGPT becoming “sentient,” she clarified that ChatGPT4, the most advanced AI thus far, is limited to language generation, human-created coding, supercomputers, and mathematics. Crampton acknowledged the potential misuse of software and technology, stressing the need for government and private-sector safeguards. Emphasizing consumer input and recognizing resource disparities, she urged open discussions about fears and concerns regarding AI technology while advocating for increased safety measures.

Furthermore, Crampton emphasized the role of consumers and the responsibility of tech developers and deployers. She mentioned that Microsoft makes the core tech "building blocks" available to companies who use and further develop the technology, which she argues puts a certain amount of responsibility on these companies. She argues that regulatory frameworks should apply to both the builders and developers.

In his closing remarks, Lloyd Whitman, Senior Director of the GeoTech Center at the Atlantic Council, expressed admiration for the panel of women and gratitude towards the panelists, WFPG, and Microsoft for hosting the event. He highlighted the Atlantic Council's goal of shaping the global future and the GeoTech Center's focus on integrating technology for public benefit. Acknowledging that AI is currently in the spotlight, Whitman pondered the trajectory and significance of this era for civilization. He emphasized the critical role of transparency in navigating the promises and risks of AI technology. Whitman then posed thought-provoking questions about the impact of AI on knowledge and education, raising concerns about teaching methods, the purpose of reading papers, and the future of knowledge creation. These enduring questions will continue to shape our journey with new AI technologies.

You can view pictures from the event here.

Emma Ulvin is a student at George Washington University and a Programs Intern at the WFPG.

On March 9, 2023, the Women's Foreign Policy Group co-organized an exclusive event at House of Sweden with United for Ukraine (Switzerland), the Embassy of Sweden in Washington, D.C., and the Delegation of the European Union to the United States. The event began with remarks by Ingrid Ask, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Sweden in Washington, D.C., in which she discussed the importance of recognizing the contribution of women on the frontlines of war. Soon after, Michael Curtis, Deputy Ambassador of the European Union to the United States, expanded on this sentiment—establishing the EU's position of unity in admiration for the Ukrainian people. He acknowledged the disproportionate impact of wartime aggression on women, and the importance of highlighting women's experiences when discussing issues relating to peace and security.

H.E. Oksana Markarova, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States, stressed the need for Ukraine to continue to be integrated into the European Union community, which Ukraine has consistently voted in favor to join. Ambassador Markarova stated that Ukraine will continue to stand up against Russian tyranny even when it is incredibly difficult. Turning toward the event speakers, she also raised the Sevgil Musayeva, Editor-in-Chief of Ukrainska Pravda for her work domestically to encourage Ukrainian women to continue their fight, and Nancy Pelosi, Former 52nd Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for inspiring an American audience to empathize with the struggle of Ukrainian women.

The Women's Foreign Policy Group's Executive Director Alexa Chopivsky thanked Ambassador Markarova sincerely for her incredible wartime efforts and inspiring diplomatic efforts. Chopivsky then introduced Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi. Speaker Emerita Pelosi was recently awarded the Order of Princess Olga, a Ukrainian civil honor for her contributions to the Ukrainian state.

Speaker Emerita Pelosi began by shining a light on Ambassador Markarova's work in advocating for American monetary and military support of Ukraine on both sides of the political aisle. Reflecting on her trip to Kyiv in April 2022, Speaker Emerita Pelosi said that she had never seen such commitment and bravery in the face of such egregious crimes against humanity. She seconded Vice President Harris' words at the Munich Security Conference in February 2023 and President Biden's 2023 State of the Union address, that the United States will continue to stand by Ukraine throughout this illegal war. Speaker Emerita Pelosi also questioned how to approach economic reconstruction in light of the widespread suffering and human rights abuses, which disproportionately affect women and children. Sanctions alone are not enough, noted Speaker Emerita Pelosi, and the international community must hold Russian leadership accountable for their actions. Despite the increased transparency and visibility of the 21st century, Russia still clearly violates Ukrainian sovereignty without regard for the international perception of such actions. Invoking President John F. Kennedy's famous 1961 Inaugural Address, Speaker Emerita Pelosi brought to mind the adage "My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." According to Speaker Emerita Pelosi, there can be no condescending, only collaboration between the United States and foreign partners. She concluded by saying that the United States will not stop until victory and justice are won.

Returning to the stage, Ms. Chopivsky brought attention to a piece of Ukrainian folk wisdom: a man may be the head of a family, but the woman is the neck—she is the one who steers the family. Economic rebuilding and peacebuilding are crucial in this period, and focusing on women's experiences is crucial for sustainable growth.

Then, attendees screened "Oh, Sister!", a short film by the Nobel Women's Initiative which aims to highlight the ongoing challenges facing Ukrainian women in light of continued Russian aggression. Many audience members were moved to tears by the strikingly honest stories of women's experiences throughout this war.

Immediately after the film screening, guests listened to virtual remarks from Oleksandra Matviichuk, 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureate from Ukraine. In her remarks, Matviichuk expressed her mourning for the total destruction that Ukraine has experienced at the hands of the Russian invasion. Rebuilding schools, hospitals, churches, bridges, and other critical infrastructure, she explained, must be at the center of rebuilding efforts in the coming weeks and months. Displaced people must be able to return to their homes, businesses must be supported by the government so that they may open their doors once again. Strengthening core democratic institutions so that women can continue to play a central role in recovery is vital to the future of Ukraine. Matviichuk ended her remarks with a fervent call that freedom has no gender.

Following the film screening and virtual remarks, Alexa Chopivsky returned to introduce the moderator for the panel, Sabrina Siddiqui, White House Reporter at the Wall Street Journal and one of two journalists to join President Biden on his recent trip to Ukraine. In her first question, Siddiqui asked the three speakers about the resilience of Ukrainian women as seen through the film "Oh, Sister!" Olga Hamama, Co-Founder of United for Ukraine (Switzerland) launched the conversation by establishing that Ukrainian women and people more broadly do not want to be victims, they want to be active participants in reestablishing peace and rebuilding economic vitality. In the early days of the war, Hamama focused on facilitating housing to internally displaced people (IDPs), connecting people around the country with critical information on escape routes and access to life-saving resources, and providing free legal aid and mental health support. The war in Ukraine is the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, and approximately 90% of the 6.5 million Ukrainians who have fled the country since the illegal Russian invasion are women and children. When Hamama spoke to IDPs and refugees, many women expressed a desire to return to their communities and contribute to the war efforts.

Sevgil Musayeva, Editor-in-Chief of Ukrainska Pravda and 2019 Harvard University Nieman Fellow, seconded this assessment but wanted to bring attention to the hurdle of addressing war-related sexual assault. Many women have been affected by this pervasive issue, and Musayeva spoke about the need for mental health resources to support those who have been impacted. As a Ukrainian citizen, she expressed concern about the overall lack of thought for the future in the national consciousness, as current human rights abuses require a great deal of mental capacity. Rather than spending time planning for the future of the country, citizens are forced to focus on the current daily human rights abuses. The solution, in Musayeva's view, is to volunteer with communities most in need and to take time to brainstorm solutions to pervasive issues such as sexual assault right now, not to wait until the war is over. Additionally, infrastructure for schools and hospitals has been severely damaged, leaving communities without crucial access to these resources.

For her part, Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel laureate (USA), Co-founder of the Nobel Women's Initiative and American peace and human rights activist, is sick of hearing the question "what role do women play in peacebuilding?" She believes that that role is right at the forefront. When addressing such issues that Musayeva brought up, she encouraged the international community to heed the advice of Ukrainian women who are best positioned to know the needs of their communities.

Hamama reinforced this idea, saying that now is the time to begin economic revitalization, with women at the helm. Ukrainian women have steadfastly advocated for entrepreneurial independence and the closing of discriminatory loopholes that have previously been used to marginalize vulnerable groups. Similarly, the EU-funded Climate-KIC is currently working to educate Ukrainian refugees and IDPs about the importance of sustainable economic recovery to rejuvenate the economy with businesses that will positively impact their communities.

"Recovering from War: Women on the Frontlines of Ukraine’s Economic Reconstruction" with each of the panelists reiterating that the war is not yet over, and Ukrainian women will continue to fight for peace and gender equality throughout the economic rebuilding process.

You can view pictures from the event here.

Madison Dwyer is a student at Georgetown University and a Programs Intern at the WFPG.

Right before the discussion began, the brave panelists living in Ukraine received an airstrike alert whilst logging on to the Zoom Webinar. As they maintained a positive outlook, it put into perspective the reality of day-to-day living during wartime. WFPG Executive Director Alexa Chopivsky introduced the moderator, Daniel Bilak, and she emphasized the importance of the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda in Ukraine.

Moderator Daniel Bilak, a current volunteer serviceman in the Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine and partner at Kinstellar, explained that as a father of four daughters, he felt that it was his duty to speak on the strength of Ukrainian women and the spirit of volunteerism they embody. With 5,000 to 7,000 women on the frontlines – many being noted as the best snipers – Bilak addressed how “women have taken on a disproportionate role in the war,” as homemakers, combatants, and budding entrepreneurs. He and the panelists agreed that Ukrainian women work towards long-term peace involving economic reconstruction and familial or community support, making them an essential component of current Ukrainian society.

As Bilak asked each of the women to share their stories, the impact of the war on their personal and professional lives became apparent. CEO of United for Ukraine Dana Pavlychko recounted her escape from Ukraine and resettlement in Germany after Russia invaded. Even though she is currently living abroad, she found a way to support and defend her country through United for Ukraine, an international NGO that aims to increase access to emergency relief resources and consolidate action initiatives in an effort to rebuild Ukraine. She emphasized the importance of creating a positive culture with her employees to give them a chance to break away from the stress of the war. Director of TAPS Ukraine, Yulia Dmytrova, has volunteered in her local community since her childhood. She understands the impact war has on mental health, especially on the families of veterans and fallen soldiers. Her goal of helping “heal the soul [and] live on with memories of their loved ones who passed” has touched the lives of sons, daughters, wives, husbands, and parents alike. Valeriia Shumska spends her days in the minefields of Ukraine with The HALO Trust. She became an internally displaced person after Russia invaded her small village in eastern Ukraine, but continues to search for evidence of mines and map them for the safety of the locals. Each woman shows up every day to fight for their country in a variety of ways.

The panelists then explained their personal efforts to involve more women in national security and economic development. Pavlychko spoke on behalf of United for Ukraine’s two main programs for women: information support (legal, housing, mentorship) for displaced persons, and economic assistance for micro-businesses in Ukraine led by women. United for Ukraine has assisted about sixty companies in 2023, helping to build their resilience during the war. Dmytrova employs seventy-six psychologists within TAPS, of which ninety percent are women. She believes that women play a key role in mediation, peacebuilding, and community, which is why they are so integral for TAPS and Ukraine. Shumska stated that previously, it was impossible for women to work as deminers, but now the women who work with HALO consistently show up, get on their hands and knees, and do the work. Many of these women have husbands who are fighting on the frontlines of the war and want to do their part in defending and securing their country.

The panel ended with an audience Q&A, with topics surrounding civil society, priorities post-war, and gender equality. Women are essential in all of these areas and will pave the way toward reconstruction and peace. Whether that be in psychological support for trauma victims, reforming education, or providing childcare, nothing can be done without the coordination and hard work of all Ukrainians. Before logging off the Zoom, with feelings of optimism and awe, and forward-thinking ideas, Dmytrova signed off with an essential reminder: “Without women, there is no victory.”

You can watch the recording from the event here.

Tara Boyd is a student at George Washington University and a Programs Intern at the WFPG.

On February 16, 2023, the Women's Foreign Policy Group hosted the virtual panel Munich Security Conference Preview: The International Order, Ukraine, and Other Top Priorities. To begin this discussion on some of the greatest security challenges of the past year and future, WFPG Executive Director Alexa Chopivsky introduced Saleha Mohsin, Senior Washington Correspondent at Bloomberg, to guide the conversation. Mohsin first acknowledged the complex set of priorities that the Munich Security Conference would likely address, from the unprovoked war in Ukraine, to climate change, and to the re-establishment of global norm-setting. She then introduced the panel's speakers: Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration; Andrea L. Thompson, Vice President for International Programs at Northrop Grumman; and Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky, Senior Fellow at Harvard University, JFK Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs, and former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs.

Mohsin found it prudent to launch the conversation by asking speakers why they believe the Munich Security Conference (MSC) is important internationally. Prime Minister Stefanishyna explained that the MSC demonstrates to an international audience why protecting democratic processes is so crucial. With the full-scale war occurring in Ukraine, Prime Minister Stefanishyna sees the MSC as a unique opportunity to uphold the standards of democracy and work to rebuild security architecture—particularly throughout Europe and with NATO, but also beyond. She explained that the war in Ukraine requires great efforts on the parts of NATO and the EU to maintain political unity vis-à-vis Ukraine. The mobilization of everyday European citizens and politicians alike is necessary to strengthen European support of Ukraine throughout this war.

Furthermore, on Ukraine and NATO, Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky solidified the idea that helping Ukraine win its war is also vital to NATO interests. Ukraine is the largest country in Europe and lies at the crossroads of Europe and Asia—a particularly strategic position that could prove pivotal for NATO interests. Currently, though, the destabilization of Europe and Asia at the hands of this war has been extreme. Ambassador Dobriansky explained that the global community is experiencing an unprecedented weaponization of energy, as seen through fuel crises affecting aircraft industries and the everyday consumer. Similarly, food security has been a major point of contention globally. For example, Ambassador Dobriansky mentioned that Egypt relies on Ukraine for a large portion of its grain and that China also receives a large portion of its grain from Ukraine as well. The blockage of ports during wartime creates many challenges that cause ripple effects on supply chains around the world.

To protect against these security threats, Andrea Thompson added, states must commit to financially supporting their defense industries. In a pre-Summit press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Thompson noted his indication that spending 2% of GDP on defense is a floor, not a ceiling. Some states, like Poland and Estonia, are going beyond this number with 4% and 3% respectively. In alliances like NATO, Thompson said, conflicts such as the war in Ukraine forced these groups to recognize the antiquatedness of their military infrastructure and inspired epiphanies that it is time to modernize their resources to sustain military agility to respond to such conflicts effectively. As a result of these realizations, Thompson continued, partnerships such as NATO are evolving to become even stronger, but states shouldn't stop there. Instead, states should harness this momentum and take the opportunity to address cybersecurity concerns. In the United States, there are 600,000 vacant positions in cybersecurity that the White House wants to be filled, but is struggling to recruit talent for. Cyber diplomacy is the next generation of diplomatic efforts in the mind of Thompson, and to meet this need, states must share emerging technologies.

Ambassador Dobriansky vehemently seconded this idea, invoking the vicious cyber attacks in Estonia and Ukraine. When questioned about the kind of signal that these cyberattacks send to the international community, Ambassador Dobriansky responded that it is a clear demonstration of the lack of respect for rule of law and sovereignty. The threat against democratic values and processes is existential, but there is an upside, according to the Ambassador. She declared that when we look back to Ukraine pre-war, there was complacency in international alliances such as NATO, and now in this new age, these alliances are galvanizing to reinstate respect and order. The rejuvenation of democracy, Ambassador Dobriansky said, contributed to the two new members of NATO; the threat of Russia's complete disregard for international norms inspired Finland and Sweden to be a firm part of this pro-democratic institutional movement.

As the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine extend internationally, Prime Minister Stefanishyna brought light to the ongoing domestic changes in her country. She explained that women's access to politics has increased as society has shifted due to the war. Women are stepping up and taking charge, advocating for the most vulnerable groups—women, children, and the elderly. When asked what kind of advocacy is most effective for protection of these groups, she responded that sustainable policymaking, both domestically and internationally, is vital to peace and security. In Ukraine, to uphold democracy post-war, political momentum is focused on establishing permanent routes for the allocation of financial resources to vulnerable groups to develop businesses and close loopholes that had previously been used to discriminate. Internationally, democratic backsliding is a threat that must also be addressed by sustainable security agendas.

You can watch the recording from the event here.

Madison Dwyer is a student at Georgetown University and a Programs Intern at the WFPG.

A panel of women invested in advancing the resettlement process for refugees in the United States shared their expertise on the evening of January 26th, hosted by the Humanitarian Action Initiative and No Lost Generation GW at the Elliott School of International Affairs. With a focus on the grim realities of refugee resettlement, the panelists discussed the main challenges for refugees: how the federal government, judicial system, and non-profit organizations work together, and what people can do to help those seeking refuge. The panel was followed by a brief audience Q&A, where panelists answered questions about entry-level jobs in resettlement work, how to influence change on a local level, and possible national solutions to the refugee crisis.

Manizha Azizi, the Family Services Manager at Homes Not Borders, discussed the importance of non-profit work for refugees. Homes Not Borders is an organization enlisted by resettlement agencies and individuals to furnish homes for incoming refugee families into the United States. Azizi emphasized that this allows the families to focus on more pressing tasks such as enrolling their children in schools, applying for healthcare, and applying for citizenship or green cards. In addition to furnishing their homes, Homes Not Borders has an artisan program to help refugees with specific skills such as sewing, painting, or knitting to find work. By creating spaces for refugees to find temporary employment and comfortable homes, Homes Not Borders eases families into their new lifestyle. Still, the hardest challenge that Azizi faces is the lack of resources. The influx of Afghani refugees since 2021 is a clear demonstration of the government’s lack of resources, Azizi reflected. She worked with many families who experienced bouts of domestic violence caused by stress, culture shock and language barriers, and bullying and discrimination of their children in schools. As an Afghani herself, she struggled to stomach these challenges, but they propelled her to keep moving forward.

Nicole Medved is an Immigration Attorney currently working at the William and Mary Law School Immigration Clinic, where she trains lawyers in humanitarian immigration law to represent refugees in a system that often works against them. The legal system is slow-moving with a lack of employees and interpreters to process forms and approve visa applications and work authorizations. Additionally, the strict definition of “refugee” is a major roadblock for attorneys like Medved due to the lack of tangible evidence. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requires that refugees demonstrate past persecution or fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. The process of proving past persecution can be difficult, especially if a family immigrated before the persecution began. The increasing number of climate refugees fails to fit into this definition, leaving them without any defense. Lastly, the trauma and PTSD of having to retell one’s stories of persecution and torture is what Medved points out as one of the biggest flaws in the system. She reflected that “law is important, but is not the final decision or destination for refugees or paroles,” as simply obtaining a visa will not ensure a refugee’s stability. This is where organizations such as Homes Not Borders are essential.

Olivia Issa, the Program Lead at the Refugee Resettlement Initiative at the National Association of System Heads, explained the role education has in helping refugee students and families. She pointed out that one place that has all the resources a refugee needs in their first year can be found at universities. Between food, transportation, housing, health services, and career services, universities can support refugee families who previously had no access to these services. This is why the Refugee Resettlement Initiative started the Every Campus of Refuge program, which encourages universities to grant refugee families housing units for 6 months at little or no cost. With Kentucky leading the way with the most Every Campus of Refuge programs, Issa hopes more universities will follow in their footsteps. Furthermore, Issa emphasized the importance of incorporating refugees into schools’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs and budget. This would encompass more affordable English language exams such as moving away from using TOEFL exams and towards Duolingo’s cheaper alternative. Additionally, being lenient with previous official transcripts is essential, as many refugee families do not bring these documents with them. If their schools were destroyed during conflict, it is impossible to obtain these records. Challenges such as these are crucial for universities to address in order to grant migrants the support they need to succeed.

Moderator Dr. Maryam Deloffre, the Director of the Humanitarian Action Initiative, asked the panel a final question: “How can the government, non-profit organizations, and ordinary people work together to help refugee resettlement?”Azizi explained that everyone has a different role to play and that thorough communication is essential on a weekly, if not daily, basis. This could manifest on a personal level by welcoming a new refugee in your neighborhood or school, or with the government granting more federal resources to hire more employees to process documents. Medved emphasized the need for volunteers and experts to aid attorneys throughout the legislative process. There is a dire need for more interpreters to not only explain legal situations to the refugees, but to also translate birth certificates, resumes, and other essential documents. She also explored the value of country conditions research in proving the possibility of persecution in their home countries with expert affidavits from professors or mental health experts. These will often make or break a case in immigration law. Lastly, with President Biden’s new Welcome Corps program, groups of up to five individuals can now privately sponsor the resettlement of refugees. Issa explained that universities can easily tackle this job.

It is up to every sector to positively influence the way the United States conducts its resettlement program. Federal and legal policies directly affect the success of non-profit organizations' efforts. Ordinary civilians should continue to be intentional with their votes for elected officials locally and nationally. Universities and educational institutions should commit more time and resources to help refugees gain access to education and resources and should stress the importance of cross-cultural education and acceptance. Organizations such as Homes Not Borders always need more volunteers and donors. With the right initiatives, refugee resettlement can be reshaped for the better.

Tara Boyd is a student at George Washington University and a Programs Intern at the WFPG.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023, was a somber day for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists as they released the news that humanity's Doomsday Clock is now "90 seconds from midnight." The Bulletin first published its Doomsday Clock in 1947 as a representation of how close society is to "technologically or environmentally-induced catastrophe." The Clock brings awareness to the dangers of unrestrained technological advancement, particularly nuclear, but recently incorporated climate and other existential threats such as pandemics. Tuesday's declaration comes at the hands of Russia's war in Ukraine—pushing society 10 seconds closer to midnight than 2022's designation of 100 seconds to midnight. Gathered together at Georgetown University for a discussion on the Threats and Challenges to Global Governance in the 21st Century, Rachel Bronson, President and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders, were joined by two additional members of the Elders, Juan Manuel Santos and Elbegdorj Tsakhia.

Bulletin President Bronson opened the discussion with a clear indication that the new designation of the Clock at 90 seconds—closer than it has ever been, she added—was primarily the result of a P5 nation (permanent member of the United Nations Security Council) invading the sovereign territory of another state. Viewing this as a collapse of the international order, she stressed the possibility that this conflict between Russia and Ukraine may put nuclear weapons back into possible use. Additionally, Bronson expressed concern over potentially unrestricted innovation in AI and bioscience, which can also put humanity at risk.

During his tenure between 2009 and 2017, President Elbegdorj of Mongolia met with Putin 30 times. Personally, he was surprised by the war and expressed the international damage that Putin has done by instigating conflict. President Elbegdorj also elaborated on his concerns for Russian citizens, specifically that freedom of speech and overall prosperity has rapidly deteriorated and that ethnic minorities in the country are disproportionately affected by war by being sent to the front lines of conflict. Additionally, if Putin succeeds, President Elbegdorj argued, autocrats around the world will be encouraged. Therefore, it is imperative that the international order reasserts Ukraine's right to exist and choose its fate.

Former President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, while discussing his recent meeting with the Ukrainian president, characterized President Zelensky as an incredibly charismatic, intelligent, and inspiring leader. The two leaders discussed President Santos' leadership of the peace process in Colombia, since President Santos believes that all armed conflicts have common denominators and can learn from each other. In his view, President Zelensky cannot yet discuss the possibility of peace negotiations publically, he must sustain his image of strength and enthusiasm vis-à-vis total victory. This can be complicated, though, because President Zelensky must communicate differently to each audience he faces: his people, his army, as well as the broader international stage. Maintaining wide support for Ukraine on a wider scale is crucial, not just from the United States and Europe, but from all over the world.

Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland, reiterated this point and expressed concern about 35 nations abstaining from United Nations General Assembly Resolution ES-11/1 to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In particular, she is worried about the African nations which abstained from this vote, many of which are dependent on military hardware and support from Russia and China. Simultaneously, other states used the vote to signal their disdain for the apparent double standard occurring with the proposition of a Nuremberg-style tribunal to address war crimes committed in Ukraine. These states question why tribunals have not been called for regarding armed conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, while the conflict in mainland Europe is being addressed with unprecedented momentum. Both of these concerns make multilateralism more complicated. Meanwhile, countries who voted yes on Resolution ES-11/1 hope to simultaneously punish the violators of human rights and reestablish the authority of international law and what President Robinson calls “common sense.” The Rome Statute, in her view, is crucial for creating norms of reparations, justice, truth, and non-repetition of violent large-scale crimes.

Regardless, all wars end at a negotiation table, President Santos said, so President Zelensky must begin preparations. Citing Nelson Mandela, President Santos invoked the adage that the most powerful weapon is being able to sit down and talk. Every decision in the peace process comes with a price, he explained. Where a leader draws the line between peace and justice is a difficult decision: what justice should a leader sacrifice for peace, and vice versa? President Santos cited his favor for the tribunal and its norm-setting behavior, which can lead to potential lives saved in future conflicts. President Elbegdorj agreed that war in the 21st century should be obsolete and that the tribunal would make a powerful statement to leaders around the world that war and irredentism is not the right path to establishing a legacy.

While discussing the possible improvements to turn back the Doomsday Clock to a greater distance from midnight, President Robinson also emphasized the lessons that many European countries are learning in the wake of the gas reliance crisis. She hopes the renewed focus on energy security will lead to serious conversations about expediting the transition to renewable energy. President Santos hopes to see the facilitation of peace over the continuation of war, and the re-establishment of peace as a global norm. President Elbegdorj, similarly, hopes to see more governmental investment in grassroots democracy and freedom of speech for all, to ensure that citizens are safeguarded against tyranny. To him, democracy isn't about pleasing everyone, but about respecting everyone's right to think differently—which is crucial for stabilizing the international community and turning back the Clock.

Madison Dwyer is a student at Georgetown University and a Programs Intern at the WFPG.

On January 19, the Women's Foreign Policy Group partnered with Beacon Global Strategies and the National Security Institute at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School to host a panel on the importance of public-private partnerships in cyber and tech-related fields. The event was held in the Rayburn House Building with a brief breakfast reception.

Founder and Executive Director of the National Security Institute Jamil Jaffer kicked the conversation off with a question for Jennifer Bachus, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the State Department Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy: "How does the State Department conceptualize the current challenges in Ukraine?" Bachus responded by detailing that long-standing support for Ukraine had been established far before the instigation of conflict in February 2022. Bachus explained that those firm relationships and a sense of trust were crucial to understand what Ukraine needed from its allies and how to obtain these resources rapidly during the early war period. Beginning in 2014, the State Department engaged with Ukraine and created open lines of communication to ensure that both sides worked toward the same goals. In the wake of the February 2022 invasion, the State Department fortified its support for the Ukrainian government, recommending migration to the cloud to secure information and respond effectively in a crisis. Bachus recognized the role of the private partnership during this time too; by donating resources and supporting the Ukrainian government, the private sector kept the government running during times of immense stress.

Similarly, Jeanette Manfra, Global Director for Security and Compliance at Google Cloud, weighed in on the role of the private sector during wartime. On the philanthropic side, Google has also raised $10 million for people affected by the war in Ukraine. From a technological security perspective, Google combated misinformation propagated by Russian-owned state media platforms such as RT by blocking monetization, abilities on Youtube videos and other apps. In addition, Google kept Google Maps updated with the most recent escape routes for civilians attempting evacuation, which proved paramount for many refugees, Manfra said. Furthermore, she asserted the importance of getting time-sensitive information into the hands of civilians publically and as quickly as possible because many Ukrainians now rely exclusively on digital information for resources such as maps. To achieve this goal, Manfra expressed that information sharing is critical. Operational collaboration allows the intelligence community to stay updated on civilians’ needs, which is the keystone for a successful approach.

Dave Luber, Deputy Director of Cybersecurity at the National Security Agency, chimed in from a government perspective. In his experience, cyber security and intelligence are not about “what you know,” but rather, “how you know it.” The capacity for collaboration on lower levels between governments and private-sector industries is a huge determining factor in whether these efforts are successful. Harnessing the best actors in both sectors leads to the most successful outcome. To develop a firm idea of "where we're at" in cybersecurity, we need communication of insights between analysts in open forums such as the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC). Groups like the JCDC help make it more difficult for actors to achieve success in cyberwarfare, Luber argued, because if there is one thing to count on in cyber, it is change. Whether it is new types of malware or other threats, persistent engagement and collaboration are the keys to combating cyberterrorism.

Eric Goldstein, Executive Assistant Director for Cybersecurity at CISA reiterated the importance of organizations like the JCDC and its capacity to shift cultural norms toward information sharing between different organizations. This shift will work to drive a national movement with more broad organizations that are willing to participate. The potential benefits of investing in information sharing and cybersecurity more broadly outweigh the costs, according to Goldstein, because they can mitigate future potential issues. Specifically, Ukraine's dedication to modernizing its technological systems—its transfer to a global network rather than keeping all of its data inside the country— proved decisive in its ability to withstand cyberattacks from Russia. In addition, Goldstein made a point to acknowledge that it is the responsibility of all in the intelligence community to ensure that these newly opened doors and the ability to facilitate communication are not lost once the war in Ukraine has ended. In summary, a coordinated, long-term effort by the intelligence community to institutionalize these new norms so that they are not lost to time.

To conclude, private-public partnerships with foreign allies are crucial in developing reliable relationships with functional communication. Ukraine is a perfect case study of why creating these relationships early on can foster trust between local and international actors while vis-à-vis reinforcing cybersecurity and protecting from cyberattacks. The ongoing resilience of the Ukrainian government and resistance to cyberterrorism proves the effectiveness of these public-private partnerships, and hopefully, more examples will emerge in the future.

You can view pictures from the event here.

Madison Dwyer is a student at Georgetown University and a Programs Intern at the WFPG.

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