President Makes Prevention a Priority
By Bridget Moix on 08/04/2011 @ 03:57 PM
Today President Obama took a critical next step toward improving US capacities to help prevent deadly conflict. The White House issued a new Presidential Directive (PSD-10) on preventing mass atrocities which will establish a standing interagency Atrocities Prevention Board to coordinate a government-wide strategy for preventing mass atrocities and genocide. The Atrocities Prevention Board will be tasked with taking an inventory of current government-wide capacities to prevent atrocities; assess gaps in the system; and propose innovative new tools and strategies for filling those gaps. The National Security Council is charged with undertaking the inventory and forming the Board within the next 120 days. FCNL has been lobbying for the creation of such a body and this type of capacities assessment for over two years. The Albright-Cohen Genocide Prevention Task Force first proposed an interagency standing committee in 2008. Thanks to the work of FCNL and many others, last year the Senate also called for such steps when it passed S. Con. Res. 71.
In issuing the directive, the President emphasized many of the same points FCNL has been making:
- Preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States.
- Governmental engagement on atrocities and genocide too often arrives too late, when opportunities for prevention or low-cost,low-risk action have been missed. By the time these issues have commanded the attention of senior policy makers, the menu of options has shrunk considerably and the costs of action have risen.
- In the face of a potential mass atrocity, our options are never limited to either sending in the military or standing by and doing nothing.
FCNL welcomes this important new step in US policy to help prevent mass atrocities and is already working to follow up with both the Administration and Congress to ensure that this policy proclamation now becomes effective policy action.