Meg McDermott

Policy Associate

Meg McDermott is a policy associate at CGS, where she supports the organization’s policy and campaign work. Previously, Meg was a Herbert Scoville Jr. Fellow at CGS and worked primarily on the 2010 New START campaign. Meg was a project assistant at the Carter Center, where she focused on the right to information and related governance issues. In 2009, she completed a Masters in international relations at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, as a Robert T. Jones Jr. Scholar. Meg graduated with highest honors from Emory University in 2008 with a degree in international studies. At Emory, she was a Dean's Achievement Scholar, belonged to several honor societies, and served as managing editor of The Emory Wheel.

Acknowledging the Rights of Women in Conflict

Just last month the UN reported over 500 mass rapes in eastern Congo over a two month period. Women were the primary victims of violence perpetrated by armed combatants and even some Congolese soldiers. According to UN envoy Margot Wallstrom, rape has become the weapon of choice in eastern Congo.

This latest round of sexual violence hit the major media networks, but how many have gone unnoticed? Rape has become so common – practically reaching the status of an endemic in the DRC – that often it fails to trigger a response. In the long and protracted conflict in the DRC, women constitute a high portion of the victims' statistics. It's a horrifying illustration of the fact that women are most deeply affected by war.

In today's armed conflicts, women and girls face the worst perils: death, rape, sexual abuse, kidnapping, enslavement and displacement. Gender crimes and sexual violence play a prominent role in many conflicts as a method of torture, a form of humiliation, and a way to spread terror and fear. Women are often shamed and ostracized, and communities are destroyed. Almost inevitably, conflicts target people at the margins of society, especially women, and they are likely to bear the brunt of the fallout in the post-conflict period.

Ten years ago on Sunday, the UN Security Council issued Resolution 1325 to address the role of women in peace and security. It was a landmark resolution – the first time that the UN acknowledged that wars affect women and girls disproportionately, emphasizing the critical role of women in peacemaking and peacebuilding. The resolution mandated better protection of the needs of women and girls in conflict with special attention to gender perspectives in UN programming and peace support operations. It also called for increased participation and representation of women in peace processes.

New START ratification is delayed... but hopefully not for long.

Last week Senator Lugar got on C-SPAN and stated that "for the moment, this [New START treaty] is not a crucial situation," implying that a delayed vote wouldn't really make a difference for American intelligence on Russian nukes. But a few weeks ago he told Washington Post reporter Mary Beth Sheridan that a delay in the ratification schedule for New START "is very serious and impacts our national security."

So which is it?  As so many experts have pointed out, perhaps the most important selling point on New START is the fact that there haven't been inspectors on the ground in Russian nuclear facilities in 270+ days. Senator Lugar embraced the idea, but now his tune has changed. It's a surprising about-face, even if it's a subtle one. Especially since it's coming from Lugar - the Senate's in-house nuclear disarmament expert and the voice of reason on New START.

New START and Senate Processes: A Critique of Last Resort?

Stephen Rademaker's recent piece in the Washington Post is the latest in a series of offensives against the New START treaty with Russia.  He falsely plants the blame for the delayed ratification schedule on the Democrats, although it is the Republicans who have spent the past few months scrambling to hold the treaty hostage to political maneuvering. On the plus side, he implicitly concedes that the debate on the content of the treaty is essentially over - he has no beef with the text or implications of New START. At a loss for substantive things to critique, he turns to an otherwise tedious and boring topic: Senate processes.

Rademaker says that critics of the treaty have been unfairly excluded from the process, but the evidence is to the contrary. Claiming that Senate leaders haven't given Republicans time to formally file their complaints with the treaty is a criticism of last resort. There have been 20 hearings, three classified briefings and almost 800 questions asked on the record. There have been countless meetings between concerned Senators (primarily Republicans) Secretary Clinton, Vice President Biden, and various members of the negotiating team. 

The negotiating record on missile defense was shared with the Senators who asked for it, even though Senator Kerry pointed out that the precedent for this practice is minimal and should be repeated only with caution. That sentiment goes as far back as George Washington, who firmly opposed sharing a treaty's negotiating record.