Ronan Farrow

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Satchel Ronan O’Sullivan Farrow

Farrow in 2009
Born(1987-12-19) December 19, 1987 (age 24)
Connecticut, U.S.
NationalityUnited States American
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Satchel Ronan O’Sullivan Farrow

Farrow in 2009
Born(1987-12-19) December 19, 1987 (age 24)
Connecticut, U.S.
NationalityUnited States American

Ronan Farrow (born December 19, 1987) is an American human rights activist, freelance journalist, lawyer and government official.[1] He served as a senior foreign policy official in the Obama administration, founding the State Department Office of Global Youth Issues and reporting to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as the United States' first Special Adviser for Global Youth Issues during the Arab Spring revolutions. Clinton highlighted Farrow's work and the youth engagement policy he and she designed in a 2012 speech in Tunisia.[2] He assumed this role following two years as the State Department’s Special Adviser for Humanitarian and NGO Affairs in the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.[1]

Farrow's writings have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Wall Street Journal and other publications, focused primarily on human rights issues in the Horn of Africa.[3] He has appeared as a frequent commentator on major networks and as an expert witness before the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus.[4]

Farrow has spoken extensively on engaging with marginalized people such as youth and women’s groups,[5] including in recent commencement addresses at Dominican University of California[6] and Bard College at Simon's Rock (later selected by the Huffington Post as one of 2011's top ten commencement speeches).[7]

In 2008, Farrow was awarded Refugees International's McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award, for "extraordinary service to refugees and displaced people."[8] In 2009, he was named by New York Magazine as their "New Activist" of the year and included on its list of individuals "on the verge of changing their worlds”.[9] In 2010, Harper’s Bazaar named him their “up-and-coming politician" of the year.[10][1]

In 2012, Forbes Magazine ranked him number one in Law and Policy on their "30 Under 30" most influential people list.[11]

Farrow is a graduate of Yale Law School and a Rhodes scholar.[12]


Early life

Born Satchel Ronan O'Sullivan Farrow, he is the sole biological child of film director Woody Allen and actress Mia Farrow. He was named after baseball player Satchel Paige[13] and his maternal grandmother, actress Maureen O'Sullivan. He was a subject of his parents' well-publicized custody dispute in 1992.

Farrow first came to prominence as a child prodigy[14] when at age 11 he became the youngest student to attend Bard College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Although Simon's Rock specializes in teaching "younger scholars", most of its incoming first-year students are age 16. After receiving his AA degree, Farrow transferred to Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where he moderated in the biology department and ultimately completed his senior thesis project in political science and philosophy. He went on to become the college's youngest graduate ever at age 15.[15]

At age 15, Farrow was accepted to Yale Law School, in New Haven, Connecticut. He deferred his admission until the fall of 2006 to work as an adviser to Richard Holbrooke, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and also to work with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Holbrooke would later incorporate Farrow as a key member of his team upon his return to government as Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009. Farrow was among the close staffers reported to have been present the night of Holbrooke's death in December 2010. During his time at Yale Law School, he was a summer associate at New York-based law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell. In 2008, he headed a study for the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya, which focused on post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from Kenya's election violence.[9]

Advocacy and humanitarian work

From 2001 to 2009, he worked as a UNICEF Spokesperson for Youth in Nigeria, Angola, and Sudan. In 2001, he worked with youth groups and local leaders on the AIDS epidemic in Nigeria. In 2002, he traveled to Angola, assisting in fundraising and addressing United Nations groups on that country's needs in the immediate aftermath of decades of civil war.[1] On June 1, 2006, Ronan Farrow hosted a summit at the United Nations headquarters on ensuring that children are included in the global movement for universal access to AIDS prevention and treatment.[16][17]

Between 2004 and 2006, he worked in the Darfur region of Sudan. His writings on the Darfur conflict, often focusing particularly on child soldiers he interviewed in the region, appeared in Newsday, the Boston Herald, the International Herald Tribune,[18] and The Wall Street Journal. He appeared on MSNBC, ABC, and CNN advocating for the protection of Darfuri refugees.[1] Following on his experiences in Sudan, Farrow toured the United States as a representative of the Genocide Intervention Network, helping to build the student advocacy movement against genocide.[19]

In 2007, he served under the chief counsel of the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs. In April 2008, he accompanied a congressional delegation to the Horn of Africa, during which he authored a column for the Los Angeles Times on Ethiopia's brutal counter-insurgency in the Ogaden desert.[20] On October 4, 2007, Farrow testified before the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus, advocating for increased funding for UN Peacekeeping efforts.[4]

Obama administration appointment

At the State Department since 2009, Farrow has directed the US government's relationship with nongovernmental actors in Afghanistan and Pakistan.[citation needed] His appointment was billed by late Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke as an unprecedented show of commitment by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the civil society and non-governmental actors playing a critical role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.[21] At the time of Farrow's appointment, a State Department official speaking on condition of anonymity referred to him as "a friggin' genius," adding that "he’s young but he has a depth of experience that many people twice his age lack."[22]

The Pakistani daily The Nation praised the State Department for selecting Farrow, claiming that “with his undoubtable [sic] access to corridors in Washington, [he] is worth many Haqqanis” (referring to former Pakistani Ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani) and projecting that he would revitalize efforts to combat poverty — “we have the expertise and the energy, and with people like Farrow to bring in business partners, we can do it.”[23]

In his capacity as a State Department official, Farrow has spoken extensively, particularly at universities on the subject of youth engagement. [24][25]

In 2011, he was named one of the top 99 most influential young professionals under 33 years old in foreign policy by The Diplomatic Courier.[26]

Writings and policy positions

Despite his own background within the UNO's humanitarian branches, Farrow has sharply and repeatedly criticized the UN's political bodies, including the predecessor to its Human Rights Council, which he called, in the Wall Street Journal, "a cancer on the United Nations".[27] He supported, but expressed skepticism regarding the U.S. decision to join the UN Human Rights Council in early 2009.[28]

Farrow was a vocal advocate for international military intervention in Darfur, where he worked with UNICEF in refugee camps. He authored a string of columns on the subject between 2004–07, interviewing U.N. Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno as early as 2006 on the need for troop contributions.[18] He has written repeatedly on China's investments in the Horn of Africa, including a series of exposés on their alleged arming and funding of the Sudanese government's brutal offensive in Darfur. His writing on the subject, beginning with an August 2006 piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled "China's Crude Conscience"[29], linked Beijing to the Darfur genocide and have been cited with helping to spark advocacy on the subject.[30] He pressed for diplomatic pressure on China, criticizing the administration of George W. Bush's engagements with Beijing during the 2008 Olympics.[31]

After working for the House Foreign Affairs Committee and accompanying a congressional delegation to Eritrea, Farrow authored an emphatic critique of Bush-era Ethiopia policy. Farrow highlighted atrocities allegedly committed by Ethiopian forces in the country's Ogaden desert and questioned what he described as a policy of "no strings attached" military support of the country. Ethiopia's consul general called the charges "misleading" and accused Farrow of "glamorizing insurgents".[32]

Farrow publicly defended Obama's appointment of Harold Hongju Koh (a former teacher of his at Yale Law School) as State Department legal adviser, writing in Forbes that Koh had been the victim of a campaign of "preemptive discreditation" based on Koh's putative Supreme Court candidacy.[33]

Selected bylines



  1. ^ a b c d e "Ronan Farrow". Biographies. USA: Department of State. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  2. ^ "Hillary Clinton in Tunisia". Video. Tunisia: YouTube. February 5, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-14. 
  3. ^ "Washington Social Diary". New York Social Diary. 5.15.2008. Retrieved 2010-04-24. 
  4. ^ a b "Sudan: Can the AU/UN Hybrid Force Protect Civilians in Darfur?". October 4, 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  5. ^ "Ronan Farrow". Biographies. USA: Department of State. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  6. ^ "Ronan Farrow at Dominican University". Video. USA: YouTube. May 14, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-14. 
  7. ^ "The Best Commencement Speeches of 2011". Huffington Post. June 2, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  8. ^ "Refugees International to Honor Farrow". April 28, 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  9. ^ a b "New Activist: Ronan Farrow". NY Mag. January 11, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  10. ^ "Names to Know in 2011: Ronan Farrow". October 6, 2010. Retrieved June 21, 2011. 
  11. ^ "30Under30". Retrieved 2012-08-14. 
  12. ^ Ford, Rebecca (21 November 2011). "Woody Allen and Mia Farrow's Son Becomes Rhodes Scholar". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  13. ^ Corliss, Richard; Harbison, Georgia (Monday, August 31, 1992), "Woody Allen and Mia Farrow: Scenes From A Breakup", Time,,9171,976378-2,00.html, retrieved October 1, 2010 .
  14. ^ "College Boy". People.,,20130223,00.html. Retrieved 2010-04-24. 
  15. ^ "Mia and Woody". Kenneth in the 212. 2006-07-03. Retrieved 2010-04-24. 
  16. ^ "Ronan Farrow: A Prominent Voice Advocating for Children". UNICEF. December 20 2005. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  17. ^ "UNICEF Youth Spokesperson Ronan Farrow heads call for universal access to HIV treatment". UNICEF. June 1, 2006. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  18. ^ a b Farrow 2006a.
  19. ^ "Staff". Genocide Intervention Network. Archived from the original on September 8, 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  20. ^ Farrow 2008b.
  21. ^ Holbrooke, Richard (Oct. 23 2009). "On The Record Briefing". Tunisia: State Department. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  22. ^ Rozen, Laura, "Special liaison Holbrook appoints Mia Farrow’s son as liaison to NGOs", World Wide Web log, .
  23. ^ "Ratified Corruption". The Nation. October 31, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  24. ^ "State Department Transcripts: Ronan Farrow at UC Berkeley". March 17 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  25. ^ "State Department Transcripts: Commencement Remarks by Special Advisor Ronan Farrow at Bard College at Simon's Rock". May 13, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  26. ^ "Top 99 Under 33". Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  27. ^ Farrow 2008a.
  28. ^ Farrow 2009a.
  29. ^ Farrow 2006b.
  30. ^ Hamilton, Bec (2011), Fighting for Darfur, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 137–38 .
  31. ^ Farrow 2008c.
  32. ^ Ambassador Selassie, Taye Atske (February 25, 2008), "Don't Glamorize Insurgents", The Los Angeles Times .
  33. ^ Farrow 2009b.

External links