The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

State Department Prioritizes Genocide Prevention in New Blueprint

Originally posted on the Genocide Intervention Network blog:

State Department Releases Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review

On December 15, 2010 the U.S. State Department issued the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). According to State, "the QDDR provides a blueprint for elevating American ‘civilian power’ to better advance our national interests." Among other things, this effort to advance national interests includes "directing and coordinating the resources of all America’s civilian agencies to prevent and resolve conflicts."

As we know, historically the United States has struggled to develop the capacity necessary to effectively address situations of deadly conflict.  This is particularly true in situations where genocide or mass atrocities have taken place. The QDDR blueprint provides important acknowledgment of this gap and a clear commitment toward enhancing U.S. capacity along these lines.

Genocide and Mass Atrocities

The QDDR contains six chapters and the fourth—titled Preventing and Responding to Crises, Conflict and Instability—is most relevant to our work.  This chapter states that "the mission of State and USAID with regard to crisis and conflict in fragile states is to reduce or eliminate short, medium and long-term threats to American security."

Along these lines, the chapter makes clear that preventing and responding to genocide and mass atrocities is in the national security interest of the United States. The chapter underscores the need to utilize the full diplomatic weight of the U.S. earlier in order to better prevent atrocities. The QDDR further highlights the U.S. endorsement of the Responsibility to Protect and places preventing genocide and mass atrocities as a high priority.

Implementing the Blueprint

If implemented, the QDDR blueprint will support a more effective approach to genocide and mass atrocity prevention and response. Among other things the State Department plans to:

  • Create the position of Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights to better consolidate capacities;
  • Create a bureau for Conflict and Stabilization Operations, which will subsume and expand upon the existing Office for the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization that has deployed to places like Sudan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo;
  • Coordinate better with USAID, particularly the Office for Transition Initiatives that has been responsible for successfully executing programs designed to promote stability;
  • Develop programs to better train civilians with the tools needed to effectively respond to conflicts or potential conflicts; and
  • Build a long-term foundation for peace through security and justice sector reform.

What This Means for Our Work

In 2011, our organization will be working to garner Congressional support for a comprehensive bill on genocide prevention. The goal of the legislation will be to increase the capacity of the United States to more effectively prevent and respond to genocide and mass atrocities.  We were pleased to see that the QDDR prioritizes and outlines many of the changes necessary to increase this capacity. In many ways, the QDDR provides additional support for our ongoing work on genocide prevention and even outlines additional ideas that might be helpful to pursue. Stay tuned for opportunities to get involved in the fight to prevent genocide.

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