Bipartisan Bill Prioritizes U.S.-specific Tools to End and Prevent Genocide
Washington, D.C. – The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2017 was introduced yesterday by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). The bill seeks to make genocide and atrocities prevention a priority for the U.S. government, and to increase its capacity to work towards mass atrocity prevention around the world. STAND welcomes the timely introduction of this bipartisan legislation.
The bill, named after Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, is meant to honor his legacy of human rights advocacy and genocide prevention, and allow the U.S. government to move from remembrance into action.
The bill establishes a Mass Atrocities Task Force that will increase coordination on atrocities prevention between the Department of State, the National Security Council, and other government agencies. The bill requires atrocities prevention training for Foreign Service Officers, and authorizes the Complex Crises Fund, an existing fund used for on-the-ground atrocities prevention programs in places deemed at-risk of genocide or other atrocities. In addition, the bill requires annual reporting by the Director of National Intelligence and the State Department on countries or regions that are at-risk for atrocities.
STAND’s Student Director Savannah Wooten believes the bill is particularly relevant in the current historical moment. “In recent years, civilians have been increasingly targeted in conflict worldwide. It is reassuring to see bipartisan consensus in the Senate on the importance of investing in mass atrocity prevention through diplomacy and development.”
The world is more connected and interdependent than ever, and atrocities in one nation are not isolated incidents. The devastation, loss of life, destruction of infrastructure, and political and economic instability that accompanies genocide and mass atrocities are never neatly contained in one region, as the crisis in Syria has shown, and as history has repeatedly proven. It is in the United States’ moral, political, and economic interest to monitor nations around the world that appear at risk for violent outbreaks, and to invest in long-term prevention and peacebuilding efforts to prevent violence before it happens. The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act is essential in ensuring that the U.S. Government has the ability to invest in these prevention efforts in an informed and responsible way.
Dozens of non-governmental organizations support the Elie Wiesel Act, including STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Armenian National Committee of America, Invisible Children, Oxfam America, Refugees International, Search for Common Ground, International Crisis Group, Church World Service, and Jewish World Watch.
Original co-sponsors of the Elie Wiesel Act include Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-M.I.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities supports a grassroots network of student and youth activists across the U.S. to advocate for proactive policies to end and prevent genocide and mass atrocities. Established in 2004 in response to the Darfur genocide, STAND now also focuses on ending ongoing conflict in Sudan and South Sudan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma, Burundi, and Yemen. To find out more, please visit us at www.standnow.org.
For more information, contact Savannah Wooten, Student Director at (480) 626-3733 or firstname.lastname@example.org.