For Immediate Release: April 23, 2012
Washington, DC – Human Rights First welcomes the announcement today by President Barack Obama of the creation of the Atrocities Prevention Board (APB), a high-level, interagency structure responsible for developing atrocity prevention and response strategies for the U.S. government. The Board is a result of a comprehensive presidential study issued in August, and is an important milestone in operationalizing the U.S. national interest in preventing the world’s worst crimes.
Human Rights First has long advocated for an all-of-government approach to better detect and respond appropriately to emerging threats, before they result in mass atrocities. The organization has championed the use of financial levers, a mechanism that will be used by the Board to allow the Treasury Department to more quickly use financial tools to block the flow of money to repressive regimes. The presidential study identified a broad scope of tools and resources that the U.S. government can deploy for this important mission. By the creation of the APB, the administration will continue to develop a comprehensive strategy that identifies and pressures not only the direct perpetrators of mass atrocities, but also third-party enablers – individuals, companies, and countries that provide the material and technical means on which perpetrators rely to carry out attacks on civilians.
Human Rights First has collaborated with the National Defense University, the Notre Dame University Kroc Institute, and the United States Institute of Peace to develop a decision-making tool for policymakers who will sit on the Atrocities Prevention Board. ”Shrouded horizons” is a scenario planning exercise that will identify necessary resources needed to respond appropriately to early warnings of mass atrocities.
“The promises of ‘never again’ have rung hollow again and again. Today’s announcement is a critical step in turning those promises into preventive action,” said Human Rights First’s Elisa Massimino. “Mass crimes against humanity are organized and complex and they require a response that mobilizes all the resources of our government. As the APB conducts its first meeting this afternoon, it should ensure that the full range of tools – diplomatic, economic, humanitarian, and military – can be brought to bear on this difficult set of issues, including the ability to interrupt the supply chain from entities that enable atrocities. This new Board recognizes the reality that atrocities prevention is in the national interest of the United States. Human Rights First will work closely with this Board, Congress, and our colleagues in the NGO community to support decisive and early action to prevent mass atrocities before they escalate.”