From October 24 to December 4, the Auschwitz Institute led the 2022 online edition of the Mediterranean Basin Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention. This 6-week virtual version of the Raphael Lemkin Seminar was tailored specifically for the Mediterranean Basin region and featured 19 attendees from 9 countries in Southeastern Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, and Slovenia). Dr. Olivera Simić, Associate Professor at the Griffith Law School with vast regional expertise, facilitated the discussions. A complete list of participants and the seminar’s agenda can be found here.
The Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention has been AIPG’s flagship program since 2008. It is grounded in the belief that preventing genocide and other atrocity crimes is achievable if various societal actors are prepared and committed to recognizing and combating risk factors for mass violence before it occurs.
The first week of the seminar’s curriculum was dedicated to analyzing the Holocaust as a socio-political process, introducing participants to the detailed historical context which made the Nazi’s “Final Solution” possible. The following week included an overview of the concepts of genocide, mass atrocities, and their prevention. Weekly modules began with the introduction of Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-Jewish lawyer who first coined the term genocide and worked his entire life for its codification into the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Participants then examined legal definitions of genocide and the remaining categories of mass atrocities: crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing. The week ended with a presentation of AIPG’s three-phase approach to mass atrocity prevention.
During the third week, participants were introduced to primary or “upstream” atrocity prevention and discussed the three pillars of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Upstream prevention measures focus on the analysis of risk factors for mass violence. This assessment takes place before violence erupts and encompasses long-term governance, historical, economic, and societal factors that leave a country at risk of genocide and other mass atrocities.
In the fourth week of the seminar, participants focused on secondary or “midstream” prevention, discussing the wide range of tools available during a violent crisis, including political, legal, economic, and military measures. The following two weeks were dedicated to tertiary or “downstream” prevention. Participants were introduced to the concept of transitional justice, which includes a variety of retributive and restorative measures by which a society can address past atrocities and human rights violations. During the sixth and final week of the program, attendees learned about the role of memory as a vital component of transitional justice and prevention. Participants also discussed the importance of memory in downstream prevention and its connection to the concepts of truth, justice, and mercy.
The flexible, asynchronous learning format allowed participants to contribute over the week at their own pace to the moderated discussions in the virtual forum – a much-appreciated format given their busy schedules.
Dr. Gabriela Ghindea, Program Director of the Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention and Director of Mediterranean Basin Programs at AIPG, concludes:
I am delighted that one of AIPG’s most prestigious programs proved once again its validity and allowed participants to discuss sensitive topics in a safe and dialogue-encouraging environment. I am profoundly grateful for the trust invested in AIPG’s implementing team. I appreciate everyone’s excellent work, diligence, determination, and commitment to keeping a vital conversation alive beyond all virtual communication challenges and inherent fatigue in these turbulent times! Our AIPG alumni community becomes richer and more meaningful with every program!
*All references to Kosovo should be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).