Sustainable genocide and mass atrocity prevention starts at home – a fact that drives the U.S. Programs of the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation.
Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Promoting and Protecting Civil and Human Rights
On August 18-23 of 2019, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) held the Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Promoting and Protecting Civil and Human Rights – a version of the Raphael Lemkin Seminar tailored specifically for members of the U.S. Federal Government. The seminar featured the participation of 18 representatives, coming from the U.S. Commission on Human Rights, multiple Congressional offices, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the State Department.
U.S. Inter-Agency and Federal Law Enforcement
In April of 2015, the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) and AIPR co-organized the first edition of the U.S. Inter-Agency Course on Atrocity Prevention. The three-day interactive training familiarized participants with the mechanics of atrocity prevention, including U.S. and international institutional prevention frameworks, the identification of early warning signs, and risk assessment. The course welcomed twenty-four officials drawn from an array of U.S. agencies that play a role in prevention, including the Treasury and Homeland Security Departments, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Many of the attending representatives are current or previous Atrocity Prevention Board (APB) members or sub-APB members.
Later in 2015, AIPR led multiple training modules at the International Human Rights Forum, a series of training and educational seminars with participants from various organizations within the Federal Government of the United States, including the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The three-day event was entitled “Building a Strong Foundation for International Human Rights Crimes Investigations” and included a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
U.S. Police and Local Law Enforcement
AIPR is engaging with the law enforcement community to contribute to the development of durable approaches to prevent future atrocities here in the United States. In partnership with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia, AIPR has developed a training course for state and local law enforcement officers on the protection of human and civil rights.
In April of 2017, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation and its organizing partners held the inaugural National Seminar for Law Enforcement on Civil and Human Rights Protection at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. The event welcomed 20 police officers from departments across the eastern U.S. to the National Center for a two-day training seminar featuring contributions from Mr. Charles H. Ramsey, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner and Co-Chair of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and Dr. Cedric L. Alexander, member of the Presidential Task Force alongside Mr. Ramsey. The second edition of the program, held in April of 2018, featured a refined seminar curriculum based on instructor and participant feedback from the initial version and continued the program’s success.
U.S. Armed Forces
Domestic work in prevention has a long tradition at AIPR. Our first U.S. program was the U.S. Military edition of our Raphael Lemkin Seminar. In 2010 and 2011, we brought officers from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to Oświęcim, Poland, for one week of education in preventing mass atrocities and protecting civilians during military operations.
In April of 2016, Dr. James Waller, AIPR’s Director of Academic Programs, delivered the keynote address at the 2016 Fort Leavenworth Ethics Symposium at the Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The address, heard by an audience of over 1,400 military personnel from around the world, was entitled “Confronting Evil: Engaging Our Responsibility to Prevent Genocide”. Also in 2016, Jack Mayerhofer, AIPR’s Chief of Staff, participated in the Joint Service Academy Mass Atrocity Prevention Symposium in Washington, DC. Mr. Mayerhofer gave a presentation entitled “A Regional Approach to Prevention: The Role of Regional Networks in Africa and Latin America for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention,” which worked to give attendees an appreciation for the role that international network building plays in genocide and mass atrocity prevention efforts.
Research and Engagement with Civil Society
In 2013, AIPR co-organized an academic conference entitled “Deconstructing Prevention: The Theory, Policy, and Practice of Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention,” with the Cardozo Law Program in Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies. The event was held at the Cardozo School of Law in New York City and featured Lt. Gen. (ret) Roméo Dallaire as the keynote speaker and panel discussions on topics including transitional justice, crisis mapping, and national mechanisms devoted to prevention. The conference resulted in an edited volume on the field of genocide prevention, published by Cambridge University Press in 2015.
In 2011, the Auschwitz Institute partnered with the Center for the Study of Genocide, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, to create an undergraduate course in genocide prevention, taught by Professor Alex Hinton as an upper-level anthropology class. In 2015, AIPR worked with Stockton University to develop a program to offer the world’s first graduate-level Genocide Prevention Certificate (GPC). The GPC curriculum was developed to meet the existing need for specialized training among professionals in the government, military, and business sectors, as well as within non-governmental organizations. Granted through the University’s Master of Art of Holocaust and Genocide Studies (MAHG) Program, the online certificate involves an extensive online curriculum and final research project designed in consultation with the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.
AIPR has been involved in organizing events for primary and high school teachers and students. In 2014, for example, AIPR co-organized an assembly at the Spence School—a private, all-girls school in Manhattan—to provide students with information about the APB and AIPR’s programs. In 2016, Dr. Waller, delivered an address to 600 students at The Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In collaboration with the National Museum for the American Indian (NMAI) and Facing History and Ourselves (FHAO), AIPR organizes teacher workshops, for middle school and high school educators, that focus on contemporary themes and highlight the importance of museums and cultural institutions to their work. The 2014 edition of the event, which took place at NMAI, featured the participation of representatives from museums in the Lower Manhattan area and focused on how our interpretations of the past influence, and are influenced by, collective memory and trauma. The two-day workshop series returned in 2016, with the themes of identity, membership, and the creation of the “Other” driving discussion and analysis among teachers at NMAI and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
The Auschwitz Institute also co-organizes a recurring panel discussion event with the New York City Bar Association (NYCBA), hosted at the NYCBA’s historical headquarters in Manhattan. In January of 2015, the diverse high-level discussion panel engaged with the theme of “Preventing Genocide and Mass Atrocities: International Law and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P).” The 2016 edition focused on the role of National Mechanisms for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention and featured the participation of representatives from the U.S. Government and the United Nations.