Samantha Power

Professor of Practice

Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

c/o OAA Lewis 208

Biography

Ambassador Samantha Power is the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School. Ambassador Power is a 2017-18 Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

From 2013 to 2017 Power served as the 28th U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, as well as a member of President Obama’s cabinet. In this role, Power became the public face of U.S. opposition to Russian aggression in Ukraine and Syria, negotiated the toughest sanctions in a generation against North Korea, lobbied to secure the release of political prisoners, helped build new international law to cripple ISIL’s financial networks, and supported President Obama’s pathbreaking actions to end the Ebola crisis. President Obama has called her “one of our foremost thinkers on foreign policy,” saying that “she showed us that the international community has a moral responsibility and a profound interest in resolving conflicts and defending human dignity.”

From 2009 to 2013, Power served on the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, where she focused on issues including atrocity prevention; UN reform; LGBT and women’s rights; the promotion of religious freedom and the protection of religious minorities; and the prevention of human trafficking.

Called by Forbes “a powerful crusader for U.S foreign policy as well as human rights and democracy,” Ambassador Power has been named one of TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” and one of Foreign Policy’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers.”

Power has been recognized as a leading voice internationally for principled American engagement in the world. Her book “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2003. Power is also author of the New York Times bestseller Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World (2008) and was the co-editor, with Derek Chollet, of The Unquiet American: Richard Holbrooke in the World (2011). She is currently writing a new book, The Education of an Idealist, which will chronicle her years in public service and reflect on the role of human rights and humanitarian ideals in contemporary geopolitics.

Power began her career as a journalist, reporting from places such as Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Before joining the U.S. government, Power was the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School, a columnist for TIME, and a National Magazine Award-winning contributor to the Atlantic, the New Yorker, and the New York Review of Books.

Power immigrated to the United States from Ireland at the age of nine. She earned a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She is married to Cass Sunstein, with whom she has two children.

The Unquiet American: Richard Holbrooke in the World (Samantha Power & Derek Chollet eds., 2011).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Foreign Relations
,
Biography & Tribute
Type: Book
Abstract
Richard Holbrooke, who died in December 2010, was a pivotal player in U.S. diplomacy for more than forty years. Most recently special envoy for Iraq and Afghanistan under President Obama, Holbrooke also served as assistant secretary of state for both Asia and Europe, and as ambassador to both Germany and the United Nations. He had a key role in brokering a peace agreement among warring factions in Bosnia that led to the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995. Widely regarded to possess one of the most penetrating minds of any modern diplomat of any nation, Holbrooke was also well known for his outsized personality, and his capacity to charm and offend in equally colossal measures. In this book, the friends and colleagues who knew him best survey his accomplishments as a diplomat, activist, and author. Excerpts from Holbrooke’s own writings further illuminate each significant period of his career.
Samantha Power, The United States and Genocide Law: A History of Ambivalence, in Genocide v.4 (Adam Jones ed., Sage 2008).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
,
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Politics & Political Theory
,
Human Rights Law
Type: Book
Abstract
Also in The United States and the International Criminal Court: National Security and International Law (Sarah Sewell, Carl Kaysen et al. eds. 2000).
Samantha Power, Legitimacy and Competence, in To Lead the World: American Strategy After the Bush Doctrine 133 (Melvyn P. Leffler & Jeffrey W. Legro eds., 2008).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
Politics & Political Theory
,
National Security Law
,
Foreign Relations
Type: Book
Abstract
U.S. national security policy is at a critically important crossroads. The Bush Doctrine of unilateralism, pre-emptive war, and the imposition of democracy by force has proven disastrous. The United States now finds itself vilified abroad, weakened at home, and bogged down in a seemingly endless and unwinnable war. In To Lead the World, Melvyn P. Leffler and Jeffrey W. Legro bring together eleven of America's most esteemed writers and thinkers to offer concrete, historically grounded suggestions for how America can regain its standing in the world and use its power more wisely than it has during the Bush years. Best-selling authors such as David Kennedy, Niall Ferguson, Robert Kagan, Francis Fukuyama, and Samantha Power address such issues as how the US can regain its respect in the world, respond to the biggest threats now facing the country, identify reasonable foreign policy goals, manage the growing debt burden, achieve greater national security, and successfully engage a host of other problems left unsolved and in many cases exacerbated by the Bush Doctrine. Representing a wide range of perspectives, the writers gathered here place the current foreign-policy predicament firmly in the larger context of American and world history and draw upon realistic appraisals of both the strengths and the limits of American power. They argue persuasively that the kind of leadership that made the United States a great--and greatly admired--nation in the past can be revitalized to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Written by prize-winning authors and filled with level-headed, far-sighted, and achievable recommendations, To Lead the World will serve as a primary source of political wisdom in the post-Bush era and will add immeasurably to the policy debates surrounding the 2008 presidential election.
Samantha Power, Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World (Penguin Press 2008).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
International Humanitarian Law
,
Biography & Tribute
Type: Book
Abstract
Reveals Sergio Vieira de Mello's powerful legacy of humanity and ideological strength in the context of his troubleshooting attempts in Lebanon in the aftermath of Israel's 1982 invasion; in his taming of the Khmer Rouge and his repatriation of four-hundred-thousand Cambodian refugees in the early nineties; in his efforts to negotiate an end to the slaughter in Bosnia; in his struggle to nation-build in war-torn societies during his quasi-colonial governorships of Kosovo and East Timor; and through his tragic final posting as the UN representative in Baghdad, where he became the victim of the country's first-ever suicide bomb.
Samantha Power, Foreword to Darfur/Darfur: Life/War (Leslie Thomas ed., D.K. Melcher Media 2008).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
International Humanitarian Law
Type: Book
Abstract
DARFUR/DARFUR: LIFE/WAR is a powerful collection of images from some of the world's most celebrated photojournalists who have documented an ongoing genocide that has claimed more than 300,000 lives and has displaced about 2.5 million people. Launched in September 2006, Darfur/Darfur, the exhibit to which the book is the companion, consists of over 150 color and black-and-white images by seven international photojournalists and one former U.S. Marine and has gained massive national and international attention. It has been shown in museums such as the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, the Eastman House, Rochester, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C., and the Jewish Museum in Berlin. Future venues include the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, and FORMA, Milan. In January 2007, Darfur/Darfur became the first exhibit on the crisis to be presented on the African continent.
Samantha Power, Stopping Genocide and Securing "Justice": Learning by Doing -- International Justice, War Crimes and Terrorism: The U.S. Record, in Human Rights: Critical Concepts in Political Science 274 (Richard Falk, Hilal Elver & Lisa Hajjar eds., 2008).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
Human Rights Law
Type: Book
Samantha Power, Dying in Darfur, in The Best American Magazine Writing 2005 (Am. Soc'y of Magazine Editors, Columbia Univ. Press 2005).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
Human Rights Law
Type: Book
Abstract
Original publication: The New Yorker, August 30, 2004, Vol.80(24), p.58.
Samantha Power, Business as Usual at the U.N., Foreign Pol'y, no. 144, Sept./Oct. 2004, at 38.
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
,
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Politics & Political Theory
,
Foreign Relations
Type: Article
Abstract
The article looks at the United Nations as of September 2004. For the United Nations (UN), relevance may be almost as perilous as irrelevance. Although some UN backers revel in the growing global reliance on the world body, now is no time to get smug. These weighty responsibilities are landing on the shoulders of an organization that national governments have deliberately kept weak. The idea that the United Nations can stumble along in its atrophied condition has powerful appeal in capitals around the world--and even in some offices at UN headquarters. None of the permanent Security Council members wants to give up its veto; smaller powers delight in their General Assembly votes, which count as much as those of the major powers; repressive regimes cherish participation in United Nations' human rights bodies, where they can scuttle embarrassing resolutions; and the Western powers whose troops and treasure are needed to strengthen UN peacekeeping have other priorities. To a large extent, the United States and other member states get the United Nations they want and deserve.
Rony Brauman & Samantha Power, Humanitarian Schism, Foreign Pol'y, no. 143, Jul./Aug. 2004, at 17.
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
International Humanitarian Law
Type: Article
Abstract
Presents debate commentary on whether humanitarian concerns and states' national interests can peacefully coexist. Rony Brauman, M.D. and Samantha Power debating; Argument against humanitarian aid as an arm of foreign policy; Point that humanitarian workers need governmental intervention and military security in order to do their jobs.
Samantha Power, Reporting Atrocity: War, Neutrality, and the Danger of Taking Sides, 9 Int'l J. Press/Pol. 3 (2004).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
Politics & Political Theory
,
Military, War, & Peace
,
Foreign Relations
Type: Article
Samantha Power, Bystanders to Genocide: Why the United Nations Let the Rwandan Tragedy Happen, in The Rwanda Genocide (Christina Fisanick ed., Greenhaven Press 2004).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
Human Rights Law
,
International Humanitarian Law
Type: Book
Abstract
Also in Essential Readings in World Politics, 233-253, Norton 2d ed. 2004.
Samantha Power, Foreword to Roméo Dallaire, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, at 1 (Carroll & Graf 2004).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
Human Rights Law
,
International Humanitarian Law
Type: Book
Abstract
The tragic and profoundly important story of the legendary Canadian general who "watched as the devil took control of paradise on earth and fed on the blood of the people we were supposed to protect." Called on to serve as commander of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda, he believed that he was to help two warring parties achieve peace. Instead, he was exposed to the most barbarous and chaotic display of civil war and genocide in the past decade, observing in just one hundred days the killings of more than eight hundred thousand Rwandans. With only a few troops and his own ingenuity and courage, Dallaire rescued thousands, but his call for more support fell on deaf ears. Here he recreates the awful history the world community chose to ignore, and chronicles his own progression from confident Cold Warrior to devastated UN commander, and finally to retired general struggling to overcome posttraumatic stress disorder.--From publisher description.
Samantha Power, Introduction to Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (Schocken 2004) (1951).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Legal Theory & Philosophy
,
Law & Political Theory
Type: Book
Abstract
The Origins of Totalitarianism is an indispensable book for understanding the frightful barbarity of the twentieth century. Suspicious of the inevitability so often imposed by hindsight, Hannah Arendt was not interested in detailing the causes that produced totalitarianism. Nothing in the nineteenth century—indeed, nothing in human history—could have prepared us for the idea of political domination achieved by organizing the infinite plurality and differentiation of human beings as if all humanity were just one individual. Arendt believed that such a development marked a grotesque departure from all that had come before. In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt sought to provide an historical account of the forces that crystallized into totalitarianism: The ebb and flow of nineteenth-century anti-Semitism (she deemed the Dreyfus Affair a dress rehearsal for the Final Solution) and he rise of European imperialism, accompanied by the invention of racism as the only possible rationalization for it. For Arendt, totalitarianism was a form of governance that eliminated the very possibility of political action. Totalitarian leaders attract both mobs and elites, take advantage of the unthinkability of their atrocities, target “objective enemies” (classes of people who are liquidated simply because of their group membership), use terror to create loyalty, rely on concentration camps, and are obsessive in their pursuit of global primacy. But even more presciently, Arendt understood that totalitarian solutions could well survive the demise of totalitarian regimes. The Origins of Totalitarianism remains as essential a book for understanding our times as it was when it first appeared more than fifty years ago.
Samantha Power, Still Life, in Rwanda: After (Michal Ronnen Safdie, Carr Found. 2004).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
International Humanitarian Law
Type: Book
Abstract
Photographs by Michal Ronnen Safdie with essays by Homi K. Bhabha, Luis Moreno Ocampo, and Samantha Power.
Samantha Power, Raising the Cost of Genocide, 49 Dissent 85 (2002).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
,
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Politics & Political Theory
,
Human Rights Law
Type: Article
Samantha Power, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (Basic Books 2002).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
Human Rights Law
Type: Book
Abstract
Winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize For General Nonfiction National Book Critics Circle Award Winner In her award-winning interrogation of the last century of American history, Samantha Power -- a former Balkan war correspondent and founding executive director of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy -- asks the haunting question: Why do American leaders who vow "never again" repeatedly fail to stop genocide? Drawing upon exclusive interviews with Washington's top policy makers, access to newly declassified documents, and her own reporting from the modern killing fields, Power provides the answer in "A Problem from Hell"--A groundbreaking work that tells the stories of the courageous Americans who risked their careers and lives in an effort to get the United States to act.
Realizing Human Rights: Moving from Inspiration to Impact (Samantha Power & Graham Tillett Allison eds., St. Martin's Press 2000).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
Human Rights Law
,
Foreign Relations
Type: Book
Abstract
At the dawn of a new era, this book brings together leading activists, policy-makers and critics to reflect upon fifty years of attempts to improve respect for human rights. Authors include President Jimmy Carter, who helped inject human rights concerns into US policy; Wei Jingsheng, who struggled to do so in China; Louis Henkin, the modern "father" of international law, and Richard Goldstone, the former chief prosecutor for the Yugoslav and Rwandan war crimes tribunals. A half-century since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the time is right to assess how policies and actions effect the realization of human rights and to point to new directions and challenges that lie ahead. A must have for everyone in the human rights community and the broader foreign policy community as well as the reader who is increasingly aware of the visibility of human rights concerns on the public stage.
Samantha Power, To Suffer by Comparison?, 128 Daedalus 31 (1999).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
Military, War, & Peace
,
Politics & Political Theory
,
Human Rights Law
Type: Article
Breakdown in the Balkans: A Chronicle of Events, January, 1989 to May, 1993 (Samantha Power compiler, Carnegie Endowment for Int'l Peace 1993).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
Foreign Relations
Type: Book
Abstract
In response to the daunting complexity of the latest Balkan war, Carnegie intern Samantha Power compiled a detailed 150-page chronology of events in the Balkans and responses in the West.

Education History

c/o OAA Lewis 208