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Answers and Analysis: Preventive Diplomacy

Answers and analysis to last week’s trivia and discussion. To receive weekly education updates which include trivia, a discussion guide, and news briefs, email

The fourth chapter of the Genocide Prevention Task Force (GPTF) Report entitled “Preventive Diplomacy: Halting and Reversing Escalation” names several factors that influence which preventive tactics might be used. Name at least two.
Possible answers include: timing/speed of the violence, geographical location, political character, and economic profile.
How would the GPTF recommendations on preventive diplomacy impact the conflicts in Sudan, Congo, Burma and other areas of concern if they were implemented into government policy?


Sudan’s multiple crises involve multiple actors within the crisis region, within the country, and outside the country. In a complex and constantly changing conflict, the US government cannot afford to not have an updated and united position every time it interacts with actors on the ground. Recommendation 4-5 suggests that actors must maintain consistent with their messaging. An Atrocities Prevention Committee could be the only body capable of coordinating such a sophisticated response to such a complex and delicate set of negotiations, relations, and actions.


Recommendation 4-4 suggests that diplomatic strategies to prevent genocide “should include the credible threat of coercive measures, should avoid an overly rigid “escalatory ladder,” and should not dismiss potential benefits of rewarding ‘bad people’ for ‘good behavior.’”  It includes guidelines about imposing sanctions, recommending that sanctions, along with other diplomatic measures, be implemented more strongly at earlier stages rather than imposing gradually harsher measures to maximize effect, and notes that sanctions should be used as a tool to be coupled with others as part of a larger strategy.  These recommendations can inform President Obama’s policy on Burma.  His policy is one of “pragmatic engagement,” for which he has faced criticism, but his policy has the potential to be effective if he uses engagement with the regime as another tool for pressure, along with targeted sanctions and the willingness and flexibility to use harsher measures when necessary.  The recommendation notes that engagement with and even the  reward of regimes that have committed mass atrocities can be justified if it prevents further violence.


Given Kabila’s government’s lack of a firm grip on territory and activities in the country, especially the East, it is very common for clashes to happen at any time, anywhere and by a new group. This phenomenon takes peace keepers’ attention when they have to meet immediate needs of fragile newly attacked communities, which dilutes peace keepers’ impact on their original missions. For example while at the beginning of the millennium MONUC had to deal mainly with the FDLR, the CNDP sprang up in 2007, around the same time as the LRA and many other smaller rebel forces, giving the government forces and peace keepers even more chaos to deal with. Preventative diplomacy would be effective if local grievances were addressed as they arise; passing them off as baseless ‘traditional’ wars leads to missing important pointers like community to community threats and sometimes arms’ acquisition that results from citizens feeling that their grievances have been ignored and so they have to take their security into their own hands. In their efforts to maintain peace where it exists in DRC, USA should facilitate and encourage respectful and informed diplomacy between the government and aggrieved citizens.


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