US Human Rights Commission seeks stop of all mass atrocities

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THE United States Congress’ Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission has scheduled hearings on United States policy in relation to the prevention of mass atrocities around the world.

In a press statement, the bicameral human rights commission defined “mass atrocities as large-scale, deliberate attacks against civilians, and include genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

The commission reminded the public that after the Holocaust that happened during World War II, the United States and the international community have “vowed to never again stand by in the face of genocide and mass atrocities.”

“But since then mass atrocities, including genocide, have been committed in Indonesia, Cambodia, Guatemala, East Timor, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan and Syria, among other places.”

“Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, tortured, or suffered sexual violence; and millions more have been forced to flee, generating profound humanitarian, political, and national security consequences.”

In 2006 National Security Strategy presented by President George W. Bush, the U.S. government has explicitly prioritized the prevention of genocide and other mass atrocities.

In 2008, the bipartisan Genocide Prevention Task Force laid out a prevention blueprint for U.S. policymakers, and in 2011, President Obama established the Atrocities Prevention Board, which continues under President Trump’s administration.

“The United States has been a leader in marshaling the international community and fashioning tools, policies, and programs to prevent and address mass atrocities. Nevertheless, as the recent atrocities committed against the Rohingya in Burma have once again made clear, more is needed,” said the commission.

In the said hearing, the first of a planned series, resource persons will elaborate on the concept of mass atrocities, discuss the difference between prevention and response, and examine the relationship between the prevention of atrocities and U.S. national interests.

Witnesses also will identify current situations of concern around the world.

Panel I

  • Father Thomas J. Reese, S.J., Commissioner, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Panel II

  • Naomi Kikoler, Deputy Director, Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Charles J. Brown, Managing Director, Strategy for Humanity
  • Richard Fontaine, President, Center for a New American Security

The hearing will be open to members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media and live streamed via the Commission website at: https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/news/watcth-live.

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