Romeo Dallaire Stresses Rebuilding After Atrocities as Crucial to Prevention of Future Crimes

NEW YORK, March 6, 2013 – Canadian Senator Romeo Dallaire stressed the rebuilding of society after atrocity crimes as crucial to preventing atrocities in the future, in a speech here last week to a packed auditorium of over 250 scholars, policymakers, students, and activists. [ video here ; full text below]

Romeo Dallaire at Deconstructing Prevention

Speaking from Ottawa via Skype to an audience of UN ambassadors, U.S. government officials, judges, lawyers, academics, and activists — some of whom had traveled from as far away as England, Japan, Australia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo — Senator Dallaire, who as a general in the Canadian Army led the UN peacekeeping mission that watched powerlessly as the 1994 genocide unfolded in Rwanda, claiming some 800,000 lives in a mere three months, said: “When we think of prevention we tend to think of what comes before. . . . Well, that is not the whole picture. . . . It is not only a question of what needs to be done before atrocities occur, or what needs to be done if they occur, but also about what needs to be done after atrocities occur.”

Dallaire also recalled the original conception of genocide as defined by the Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin , pointing out that a group of people — however their identity is defined — can be targeted for destruction not only “through mass murder,” or “the assault on physical existence,” but through attacks on their political, economic, and biological existence and their cultural or religious traditions. This means there are “telling signposts along the march” to mass atrocities and the best way to prevent atrocities is “by attacking them at their roots.”

The Senator’s comments came in his keynote address, which kicked off the second day of the Feb. 25–26 conference ” Deconstructing Prevention: The Theory, Policy, and Practice of Mass Atrocity Prevention ,” co-organized by the Auschwitz Institute and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Program in Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies .

The first day of the conference was a closed gathering of 23 researchers and policy practitioners who shared and discussed their contributions to an edited volume, to be published in 2014. The book will serve as an authoritative work on the state of mass atrocity prevention, including an examination of its underlying theoretical assumptions.

Speech delivered by Lieutenant-General the Honorable Romeo Dallaire (retired), Senator, on February 26, 2013. Drafted by Senator Romeo Dallaire and Andrew Coleman. FULL TEXT HERE