USIP is proud to partner with the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) on the annual National High School Essay Contest for 2016-2017. The contest engages high school students each year in learning and writing about issues of peace and conflict, encouraging appreciation for diplomacy’s role in building partnerships that can advance peacebuilding and protect national security. The 2016-2017 contest challenges students to closely examine the causes and impact of the refugee crisis. The winner of the contest will receive a $2,500 cash prize, an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to meet the secretary of state and USIP leadership, and a full-tuition paid voyage with Semester at Sea upon the student’s enrollment at an accredited university. The runner-up will receive a $1,250 cash prize and a full scholarship to participate in the International Diplomacy Program of the National Student Leadership Conference.
According to the United Nations, 65 million people worldwide have left their homes to seek safety elsewhere due to violence, conflict, persecution, or human rights violations. The majority of these people are refugees or internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Imagine you are a member of the U.S. Foreign Service —– a diplomat working to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the United States abroad – and are now assigned to the U.S. embassy in one of these four countries.
Your task is to provide recommendations to address the refugee/IDP crisis facing the country in which you are now posted. Using the resources available to you as a member of the Foreign Service, write a memo to your Ambassador outlining how the United States might help address the current unprecedented levels of displacement. You may choose to address issues related to the causes of refugee crisis, or to focus on the humanitarian crisis in your host country.
A qualifying memo will be 1,000-1,250 words and will answer the following questions:
How does the crisis challenge U.S. interests in the country you are posted and more broadly?
Specifically outline the steps you propose the U.S. should take to tackle the roots or the consequences of the crisis, and explain how it would help solve the issue or issues you are examining. How will your efforts help build peace or enhance stability?
How do you propose, from your embassy/post of assignment, to foster U.S. government inter-agency cooperation and cooperation with the host-country government to address these issues? Among U.S. government agencies, consider U.S. Agency for International Development, the Foreign Commercial Service and the U.S. Institute of Peace.