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Trivia and Discussion Guide: Preventing Genocide and International Action

The sixth and final chapter of the Genocide Prevention Task Force (GPTF) Report addresses international action. Preventing genocide and mass atrocities should not be a responsibility of the US alone; prevention has the best chances of succeeding when the whole international community is engaged.

Read the sixth chapter of the GPTF report here.

What is an example of an international justice mechanism that can be seen as a positive sign of the growing consensus on accountability for crimes?  

Hint: You’ll find the answer in the discussion guide below!

The Genocide Prevention Task Force Report outlines the challenges of and recommendations for the inclusion of early prevention of genocide and mass atrocities into US foreign policy. While the report analyzes these recommendations on a general level, it does not specifically apply them to current conflicts or troublesome areas which threaten to become conflict zones.   

How would the GPTF recommendations on international action impact the conflicts in Sudan, Congo, Burma and other areas of concern if they were implemented into government policy? 

Key points from the GPTF report on international action:
  • National interests of state actors may overshadow their will to stop atrocities from occurring.
  • American leadership may be badly received due to hesitant or disdainful views of the US.
  • The Responsibility to Protect is a step forward in counteracting these challenges.
  • A greater consensus on the importance of accountability for crimes committed can be seen with the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda as well as the International Criminal Court.
GPTF Recommendations on international action:
  • Recommendation 6-1: The secretary of state should launch a major diplomatic initiative to create among like-minded governments, international organizations, and NGOs a formal network dedicated to the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities.
    • This would institutionalize information- and intelligence-sharing and cooperation.
    • This network would be instrumental in the coordination of preventive strategies.
    • The US should convene a major international conference to establish this network and engage multinational corporations.
  • Recommendation 6-2: The secretary of state should undertake robust diplomatic efforts toward negotiating an agreement among the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council on non-use of the veto in cases concerning genocide or mass atrocities.
    • Threatening a veto has either watered down resolutions to make them ineffective, or has resulted in no resolution at all.
    • Permanent members would agree not to use the veto unless three members are in favor of using their veto.
  • Recommendation 6-3: The State Department should support the efforts currently under way to elevate the priority of preventing genocide and mass atrocities at the United Nations.
    • The US should support the UN secretary general’s special advisor on the prevention of genocide and work to strengthen the UN high commissioner for human rights.
    • The US should work to reform the UN Human Rights Council.
  • Recommendation 6-4: The State Department, USAID, and Department of Defense should provide capacity-building assistance to international partners who are willing to take measures to prevent genocide and mass atrocities.
    • Capacity-building may take the form of further development of regional early warning systems, enhancing preventive diplomacy capabilities, and building military capabilities.
  • Recommendation 6-5: The secretary of state should reaffirm U.S. commitment to nonimpunity for perpetrators of genocide and mass atrocities.
    • While the US does not support the Rome Statute which established the ICC at present, it should work to clarify the crime of "aggression" during scheduled discussions.
    • The US should provide information to the ICC.
Prodding Questions:
  • What are the challenges to engaging the international community when certain state actors have a significant investment in the country facing conflict? For instance, how could the US engage China in promoting peace in Sudan?
  • If the use of the veto makes passing a UN Security Council resolution difficult, and acting without UN support makes US action illegitimate, how can the US respond to current crises?
  • If other national interests overshadow the priority of genocide prevention for all countries (including the US), how will these recommendations, if implemented, help promote prevention? 


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