More than six weeks after presidential elections, violence is ongoing in Ivory Coast . Tibi Galis, executive director of the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, said, however, he was encouraged that two of the West African presidents sent to try to negotiate an end to the conflict came from countries that have taken part in AIPRÃs genocide prevention program.
“I see actions like this as fruit of the seeds we plant with our work,” Galis said. “We always hope the women and men who take part in our programs take back home what they have learned and carry the message forward that the best way to stop genocide is to keep it from breaking out in the first place. Let’s hope this is the case in Ivory Coast.”
In two separate visits to Abidjan, on Dec. 28 and Jan. 3 , the leaders of Benin, Cape Verde, and Sierra Leone sought to persuade sitting President Laurent Gbagbo to cede power to Alassane Ouattara, who international observers say was the rightful winner of Cote d’Ivoire’s Nov. 28, 2010, elections.
UN experts have publicly stated their concern that human rights violations in Ivory Coast may already amount to crimes against humanity. (For a more detailed discussion, see commentary by Jina Moore ,Rebecca Sargent , and Chris Blattman .)
Both Cape Verde and Sierra Leone sent government officials to the 2009 Raphael Lemkin Seminar on the Prevention of Genocide . The Lemkin Seminar program is part of the Auschwitz Institute’s mission to build a worldwide network of government, military, and academic leaders with the tools and the commitment to prevent genocide.