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US President Obama launches Atrocities Prevention Board

1. Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation - Auschwitz Institute Praises New Atrocities Prevention Board
2. Stanley Foundation - Foundation Welcomes Creation of Atrocities Prevention Board 
3. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect - Global Centre for R2P Applauds US Government’s Leadership on Mass Atrocity Prevention
1. Madeleine Albright and William Cohen, Foreign Policy – More Than Just Remembering

Check back in the coming days for a complete list of related civil society statements and op-eds.


 
U.S. President launches Atrocities Prevention Board
In an address at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC on 23 April 2012, U.S. President Obama announced the creation of the high-level interagency Atrocities Prevention Board (APB), a key component of US foreign policy and government strategy to prevent and respond to mass atrocity crimes and genocide. First announced in August 2011 in a Presidential Study Directive on Mass Atrocities, President Obama stated, “Preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States”. The APB will aid the US government in identifying and addressing mass atrocity threats, taking a range of steps to strengthen the government’s ability to foresee, prevent and respond to genocide and mass atrocities.
 
According to a fact sheet released by the White House on 23 April, “strong organization and a whole-of government approach is needed to counter atrocities effectively”. In this regard the APB will include “representatives of the Departments of State, Defence, Treasury, Justice, and Homeland Security, the Joint Staff, the US Agency for International Development, the US Mission to the United Nations, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Office of the Vice President – all of whom are at the Assistant Secretary level or higher and have been appointed by name by their respective Principals”. Samantha Power, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, will chair the APB.
 
In December 2011, the Stanley Foundation analysed the Obama administration’s mandate in a Policy Dialogue Brief entitled “Structuring the US Government to Prevent Atrocities: Considerations for an Atrocities Prevention Board”. The brief offered prospects and challenges confronting the Review as well as recommendations for design and approach that had been discussed during the 52nd annual Strategy for Peace Conference convened by the Stanley Foundation in October.

Read the transcript of Obama’s speech at the Holocaust Memorial Museum or watch the video.
 
 
 
1. Auschwitz Institute Praises New Atrocities Prevention Board
Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation
23 April 2012
 
The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation commends the creation of the U.S. Atrocities Prevention Board, announced today by President Obama at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
 
Auschwitz Institute executive director Tibi Galis will attend the Board's first meeting at the White House today. (…)
 
(…) Galis emphasized the importance of education and training for policymakers to support the Atrocities Prevention Board, pointing to a report issued last year by the Center for American Progress that highlighted the "clear need for increased professional development on crisis prevention." The report said the Auschwitz Institute's programs should be made available "for all State and USAID employees." (…)
 
To read the full press release, see here.
 
2. Foundation Welcomes Creation of Atrocities Prevention Board 
Stanley Foundation
23 April 2012

The Stanley Foundation welcomes the announcement by President Obama that a new interagency Atrocities Prevention Board is formed and will hold its first meeting today.
 
The standing interagency board is an important tool in developing prevention strategies and ensuring concerns are elevated for senior decision making. Its creation will help the United States work better with allies and partners in responding to early warning signs to prevent potential atrocities around the world. (…)
 
To read the full press release, see here.
 
3. Global Centre for R2P Applauds US Government’s Leadership on Mass Atrocity Prevention
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
23 April 2012
 
(…) The creation of the APB is a positive and progressive affirmation of what it means for a state to uphold its Responsibility to Protect. In the wake of this announcement, the Global Centre calls upon all states to take similar steps toward preventing mass atrocity crimes including:
 
1. The issuing of a high level statement indicating that mass atrocity prevention is a priority;
2. The undertaking of a national review of existing capacities and gaps, and;
3. The appointment of a senior government official as a Focal Point on the Responsibility to Protect (…)
 
 To read the full press release, see
here.
 
II. Related op-eds
 
1. More Than Just Remembering
Madeleine Albright and William Cohen
Foreign Policy
23 April 2012
 
(…) A critical issue has emerged during this 2012 campaign that should command bipartisan appeal. U.S. President Barack Obama's planned announcement Monday morning at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum of a new interagency Atrocities Prevention Board (APB) addresses a structural deficit our government has faced for decades across different presidential administrations: What options do we have beyond doing nothing and short of intervening militarily to prevent, deter, and end bloodshed against innocent civilians?
 
The initiative calls for a group of senior administration officials to meet monthly to develop and implement prevention and response policies that will draw upon the specialized tools and reach of all U.S. government agencies. The options available for strengthening U.S. policy include tightening American immigration regulations to deny human rights abusers' access to the United States and allied nations, expanding domestic judicial mandates to prosecute perpetrators of humanitarian crimes and the first-ever National Intelligence Estimate on the global risk of mass atrocities. (…)
 
(…) This initiative should not be viewed as a new doctrine for humanitarian intervention or global adventurism, as some might suggest. Rather, it is a clear-eyed and pragmatic attempt to expand our government's tool box to meet the challenges posed by tyrants who pose an extraordinary threat to their civilian populations. This tool box is about more than sending in the Marines -- it is about better intelligence, more focused preventive diplomacy, and the smarter use of coercive pressures that might deter would-be perpetrators from employing mass violence to achieve their political goals.
 
We are proud to note that the creation of the APB, along with other initiatives aimed at improving the training of American diplomats in detecting the warning signs of mass atrocities, the U.S. intelligence community's collection of this information, and the military's operational preparedness during these crises, borrow heavily from the 2008 findings and recommendations of a bipartisan Genocide Prevention Task Force, which we co-chaired with former colleagues from around the government and across Democratic and Republican administrations. (…)
 
(…) Every American president since World War II, irrespective of political stripe, has been charged on his watch with responding to a mass-atrocity situation somewhere in the world. Such problems are almost certain to recur. It is vital that we learn the lessons of the past, so that we may be prepared to act sooner and more effectively in the future. That's why President Obama's initiative is so timely, and why it deserves broad support.
 
While an important step forward, the creation of this Atrocities Prevention Board is not in itself a guarantee of an adequate response. The real test will be whether the U.S. government will use this body and the tools it develops to heed the warning signs and to engage early enough at the highest levels of government to prevent atrocities. No longer will bureaucratic inadequacy and lack of prioritization be an excuse for inaction -- indeed, this initiative raises the standards of accountability for this and future administrations.
 
To read the full article, see here.
 
 

 

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