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Event on Bridging Approaches to Atrocity Prevention

On April 13, 2022, the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG) and Kennesaw State University’s School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding, and Development hosted the virtual event, entitled ‘Bridging Approaches to Atrocity Prevention.’

The event featured an introduction by AIPG’s Academic Programs Associate, Latin America and International Law, Mariana Salazar, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Ashley L. Green, AIPG’s Academic Programs Associate for Africa and Transitional Justice, and Dr. Kristina Hook, Assistant Professor of Conflict Management, School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding, and Development, Kennesaw State University. Discussants on the panel included Ms. Alice Wairimu Nderitu, AIPG alumna and United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Dr. James Waller, AIPG’s Director of Academic Programs, and Ms. Julie Schechter Torres, Director of Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation, Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations at the US State Department.

Panelists reflected on their past experiences in the field and discussed strategies for strengthening dialogue and consolidating international efforts in developing substantive atrocity prevention initiatives. An interactive Q&A session followed the presentation with 183 attendees worldwide, including government, civil society, and academia representatives.

The three panelists shared personal experiences from their respective fields about their work in the atrocity prevention field. The discussion also touched on challenges they faced in their roles and applicable strategies to build robust cooperation between civil society, government, and academia to respond to early warning signs of imminent violence. 

In his presentation, Dr. Waller shared the importance of academics  and policymakers working together  “to educate people who are in a position to make a difference on the frontlines of genocide and mass atrocities.” He emphasized how trainings like the Global Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention, organized in partnership with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, are essential, explaining:

Learning takes on immediacy and an impact when it’s located in places that allow you to see firsthand consequences and the importance of what you are studying.

Spotlighting the significance of community actors to the success of international prevention work, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Ms. Alice Wairimu Nderitu, spoke about every society’s obligation to remember and resist the spread of genocide denial. Ms.Nderitu underscored the importance of educating communities affected by genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity about the realities of those crimes as a necessary component of transitional justice in the aftermath of widespread violence. She clarified: 

If communities cannot recognize what is happening to them, they do not know what to do and how to prevent it, nor what they can demand of governments and the international community. 

Throughout the conversation, the panelists also described some of the international community’s most significant challenges regarding prevention efforts and how multilateral cooperation can help overcome and improve those challenges. As Ms. Schechter Torres, Director of Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation, Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations at the US State Department, pointed out:

Regular opportunities for communication are what keep the cooperation going and strengthen integration. Partnerships with other governments and multilateral organizations have helped to have more coordinated actions together […] not just for information sharing but also for more joint efforts, like public statements, and more cooperation on sanctions.

To view the full recording of the event on YouTube, please click here.