Auschwitz Institute Releases Summary of New York Conference on Mass Atrocity Prevention

NEW YORK, April 30, 2013 – Amid growing awareness of the need for effective policy to prevent genocide and mass atrocities, the Auschwitz Institute today releases a summary of the proceedings of the February conference “Deconstructing Prevention: The Theory, Policy, and Practice of Mass Atrocity Prevention.”

Co-hosted by the Auschwitz Institute and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Program in Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies , the two-day conference aimed to examine the field’s underlying assumptions and advance a common understanding of atrocity prevention among the academic, policy, and activist communities.

The first day of the conference brought together 23 scholars and practitioners, from nine countries and a broad range of disciplines, to discuss drafts of their contributions to an edited volume on mass atrocity prevention. Tentatively slated for publication in 2014, the volume will serve as an authoritative work on the topic for students, scholars, policymakers, advocates, and journalists.

The second day of the conference, which was open to the public, drew an audience of more than 250 people from across the globe and featured a keynote address by Canadian Senator Roméo Dallaire , the awarding of the Auschwitz Institute’s Raphael Lemkin Prize to political scientist Barbara Harff , and four moderated panel discussions:

  1. The United Nations Office on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect: An Evolving Institution
  2. Transitional Justice and Genocide Prevention
  3. Crisis Mapping, Technology, and Genocide Prevention
  4. Organizing Government to Prevent Genocide

Presenters on the first panel discussed how the OSAPG has adapted to changing global circumstances, expectations, and norms since it was created nine years ago. Discussants on the second panel noted that transitional justice came into being in the aftermath of World War II and since then has expanded rapidly as a field. They also discussed how and why today’s conception of transitional justice differs from that of nearly 70 years ago. The crisis mapping and technology panel explained how new technology platforms can help predict future events and empower civil society, as individuals have not only a stake but a voice as well. The concluding panel brought to light concrete steps governments in Nigeria, the United States, and Argentina are taking to help prevent genocide, both domestically and internationally.

In between the morning and afternoon panels, the Auschwitz Institute awarded its Raphael Lemkin Prize to Dr. Barbara Harff in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the cause of genocide prevention.

Full video of Day 2 of the conference is available for viewing on the Auschwitz Institute’s YouTube channel:

Download the report here.