Mass Atrocities Prevention Resources
The U.S.' ability to help prevent mass atrocities has been crippled after years of underinvestment in diplomacy, development, and international cooperation. Over the past few decades, the international community, including the U.S., has largely stood by and watched while mass atrocities occurred. To set mechanisms in place for recognizing and preventing mass atrocities, leadership and pressure from Congress is needed to ensure that these policies last beyond any one administration.
Fulfilling the promise of "never again"
- The United States and Mass Atrocities Prevention
- What is the Role of Congress?
- FCNL and Mass Atrocities Prevention
- Further Resources
The United States and Mass Atrocities Prevention
The United States has been ill equipped to identify countries at risk of mass atrocities and lacked the government structures to quickly implement preventive policies.
Presidential Study Directive on Preventing Mass Atrocities
"Preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States." - Presidential Study Directive 10
In August 2011, the Obama Administration issued a Presidential Study Directive on preventing mass atrocities (PSD-10) that established a standing interagency Atrocities Prevention Board. This body will coordinate a government-wide strategy for preventing mass atrocities and genocide. Further, 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.
In the face of a potential mass atrocity, the United States is never limited to either sending military forces or standing idle. The Atrocities Prevention Board seeks to establish mechanisms which will ensure that a broad range of options is available, before the killing starts. It will be overseen by the State Department's Conflict and Stabilizations Operations bureau.
What is the Role of Congress?
In December 2010, the Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution (S. Con. Res. 71) calling for specific steps to improve U.S. capacities to prevent genocide and mass atrocities. This resolution recognizes that there is a U.S. national interest in helping to prevent and mitigate acts of mass atrocities and genocide.
Senators Chris Coons (DE) and Senator Susan Collins (ME) circulated a 'Dear Colleague' letter in support of the Presidential Study Directive 10. The letter, signed by 28 senators, demonstrated bipartisan support for the inter-agency Atrocities Prevention Board and reiterated the principles of S. Con. Res. 71. The signatories welcomed the Presidential Study Directive 10, and urged the administration to establish coordinating mechanisms between Congress and the board.
Congress must continue to prioritize mass atrocities prevention to ensure that these policies and structures last beyond any one administration.
FCNL and Mass Atrocities Prevention
FCNL has lobbied for the an interagency atrocities prevention structure and government-wide capacities assessment for many years.
In response to the study directive, FCNL along with 25 other national organizations, thanked President Obama and offered concrete recommendations for its implementation. For more, read a blog post by Bridget Moix.
- Letter to the Editor in Delaware's News Journal, written by Dr. Chrysanthi Leon: "Congress Should Pass Human Rights Legislation"
- Letter to the Editor in the Bangor Daily News , written by Jim Matlack.
- Bridget Moix, Mary Stata and Alex Stark, in The Hill, 2/16/11 "25 Years Later, Making Never Again a Reality"
- "Preventing Mass Atrocities: An Agenda for Policymakers and Citizens"
AP Photo showing a joint session of the 112th congress