9-22-2011By Crimes Against Humanity Program
Human Rights First
The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission’s hearing today on South Kordofan and Darfur, Sudan, highlights the importance of the Atrocities Prevention Board, which should institutionalize and improve U.S. government responses to mass atrocities. National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon and his staff are more than halfway through a 100-day review ordered by President Obama “to develop and recommend the membership, mandate, structure, operational protocols, authorities, and support necessary for the Atrocities Prevention Board to coordinate and develop atrocity prevention and response policy.” Done well, the Atrocities Prevention Board could constitute a major milestone in American efforts to prevent genocide and other mass atrocities, which is why it is so important to get it right.
Effectively tackling the problem of mass atrocities requires a comprehensive approach – one that makes full use of America’s national power, incorporates the capabilities of agencies across the whole of U.S. government, and tackles the enabling factors behind the perpetration of humanity’s worst crimes.
The Board’s mandate should explicitly include identifying and disrupting third-party enablers of atrocities – those states, commercial entities, and individuals that provide goods and services to perpetrators of atrocities. The Board’s mandate should furthermore require that identifying and disrupting enablers be addressed in all interagency discussions on situations where atrocities are threatened or are underway, and that enablers be addressed explicitly in policy measures focused on the situations of concern.