For Samantha Power, human rights must be core foreign policy pillar

Samantha Power, director of multilateral affairs at the U.S. National Security Council. Photo by: personal collection

An internship at CBS Sports is an unlikely stepping stone to the National Security Council. But when in 1989, Samantha Power looked up from an Atlanta Braves game to see unedited footage of the violence on Tiananmen Square, China, she began to rethink her future.

After completing a bachelor’s at Yale, Power’s journalistic instincts took her from CBS to former Yugoslavia, where she covered the war as a correspondent for a number of U.S. publications.

Upon her return to the United States, Power attended Harvard Law School. Her first book, “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide,” won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003. The next year, Time magazine named her one of the top 100 thinkers of the year.

Power, who grew up in Ireland, has since become a leading advocate for strengthening the world’s response to genocide. She is the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Power, 40, spent 2005-06 working as a foreign policy fellow in the office of Barack Obama – a U.S. Senator at the time – and played a key role in developing the candidate’s foreign policy platform during the presidential primaries.

A pragmatist who believes in direct – yet firm – talks with rogue states and in deploying troops to prevent humanitarian crises, Power advocates for a human rights-centered foreign policy, which she views as necessary for the United States to maintain its prestige on the world stage.

As the National Security Council’s director of multilateral affairs, Power has the president’s ear on issues relating to democracy, human rights and international peacekeeping. Her access and expertise give Power the chance to recast America’s foreign policy for years to come.

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