Sustainable genocide and mass atrocity prevention starts at home—a fact that drives our U.S. Programs. In April 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 these individuals are current or former Atrocity Prevention Board (APB) or sub-APB members.
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. Also 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.
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 light of the current atmosphere of distrust that exists between police forces and the communities they serve and protect. In partnership with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia, AIPR is developing a training course for state and local law enforcement officers on the protection of human and civil rights.
This seminar, which will be attended by state and local police officers from cities around the country, will provide a foundational understanding of the process by which atrocities crimes occur and the tools that law enforcement officers have to ensure the protection of civil and human rights for all vulnerable populations within the U.S. It will utilize lessons learned from the role played by law enforcement in previous mass atrocities, such as the Holocaust, as a lens through which we’ll examine today’s challenges of policing in multicultural communities. These lessons will be applied to efforts focused on building trust between law enforcement and the communities they protect.
The pilot phase of this program will be held at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia, allowing AIPR to harness the power of place in a similar fashion as it does with other programming around the world. The initial program will take place in the spring of 2017 and will welcome the participation of 25-30 law enforcement officers. Following the initial training seminar and the resulting evaluation process, AIPR will work to expand this program to police departments around the country and to develop a training manual to support this expansion.
In 2013, we co-organized the conference, 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.
AIPR has also organized events for civil society and students across the country. 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.
Also in 2014, AIPR co-organized two workshops at the National Museum for the American Indian (NMAI) on how our interpretations of the past influence, and are influenced by, collective memory and trauma, and the role that museums and cultural organizations have towards helping the public, and students in particular, understand how we locate traumatic events in our memory. This two-day workshop series returned in 2016, with the themes of identity, membership, and the creation of the “Other” being analyzed at NMAI and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
For more information about our U.S. Programs, please contact Jack Mayerhofer, Coordinator of the Office of the Executive Director.