News & UpdatesApril 23, 2012-Staff Notes, Genocide Prevention
This morning, President Obama made a major announcement at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to introduce a comprehensive strategy to prevent and respond to mass atrocities. Most significantly, his speech formally established the Atrocities Prevention Board (APB) to help mobilize the United States into action before a massive conflict occurs.
The APB will serve as a central point to develop policies that prevent and effectively counter mass civilian killings, bringing together key leaders from the State Department (diplomacy) to the Department of Treasury (sanctions) to the Department of Defense (military). The board’s broad mandate can also fill an operational gap, between everyday diplomacy and outright crisis. The APB will provide a space for these policymakers, assistant secretary-level and higher, to discuss potential and emerging crises throughout the world, as well provide recommendations on ongoing crises.
Such efforts are critical: Once a crisis erupts, not only is there a heartbreaking loss of life, but the total financial costs to resolve the conflict, if that is even possible, are astronomical. For instance, since the beginning of the conflict in Somalia in 1991, the international community has spent more than $55 billion dollars and counting trying to resolve it.
The APB is years in the making. Originally conceived in the 2008 Genocide Prevention Task Force Report, developed under former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen and funded by Humanity United, the board later became one of the key reforms suggested in an August 2011 Presidential Study Directive from the Obama Administration.
We at Humanity United commend the Obama Administration for taking this critical step. As part of our commitment to support emerging solutions in areas like conflict prevention, we will continue to follow the development of the APB and press for strong, early action from the U.S. government as threats of new atrocities arise.
In addition to the APB, the White House announced several other new prevention tools today—including a partnership between Humanity United and USAID, which will seek to find innovative ways to stop these crimes in the future. Check this blog for more details and commentary on the partnership this week, or click this link for a quick fact sheet prepared by USAID.
David Abramowitz is the vice president and Abigail Long is an associate for the Policy & Government Relations team. Both are based in Humanity United’s Washington, D.C. office.