Speaker: Tibi Galis (2012)

Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation

"I think we have made lots of progress in that by studying situations where genocide/mass atrocities have been avoided when risks were present. We have learned that there are many things we can actually do that are useful to prevent genocide."

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Activities for Genocide Prevention

  • Early warning, which is carried out currently by the NGOs, the media, the UN, civil society, even by states themselves.
  • Then, institutional or capacity building. Here we don't talk only about mass atrocity and genocide-prevention capacity building, but also making institutions stronger in different countries in delivering the social functions that they serve.
  • Then, reducing economic inequalities. Unfortunately, economic inequalities are still very often one of the structural sources for conflict that leads to mass atrocity. That is a very important part of the toolbox.
  • Security sector reform, how to empower those who are supposed to protect to actually carry out their function.
  • Strengthening local protection of disadvantaged groups and their members. Here again, we are looking at a wide range, going from legal ways of doing this to the actual application of the legal instruments we have.
  • Fostering inclusive governance, making sure that everybody has access to decision making and to the carrying out of those decisions, every sector of society.
  • At AIPR we also add to these usually transitional justice, because many times the source of future mass atrocities is, unfortunately, the legacy of the previous atrocity;
  • And weapons control, for a very obvious reason. Weapons are very often used to carry out mass atrocities.

If you hear this, you will think there is nothing new under the sun. It's kind of true, there isn't too much new under the sun when we want to prevent genocide. These are things that we have been aware that our governments had to deliver in the past.

What is new from a genocide prevention lens, mass atrocity prevention lens, is the fact that we actually educate our governments to look at the risk of mass atrocity and genocide.

Many times when we have focused in the past on conflict prevention, we have not been aware that as a consequence of a settlement of a conflict, some groups might be targeted for being victims of mass atrocity. That is just an extreme example. A mass atrocity and genocide prevention lens, we believe, helps us see the consequences of policies that are implemented in also a lot less spectacular ways, but essential for prevention.