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Introduction to Mass Atrocity Prevention: Online Course for Romanian Diplomats

From November 8 to 28, 2021, the Auschwitz Institute held the second edition of its Introduction to Mass Atrocity Prevention virtual course in Romania, with the cooperation of the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The three-week online course welcomed the participation of 17 Romanian diplomats with official postings worldwide and was moderated by Dr. Ruxandra Ivan, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Bucharest. The Introduction to Mass Atrocity Prevention course provides foundational training in mass atrocity prevention with a particular focus on critically assessing the memory of the Holocaust and the communist regime in Romanian society, as well as the effectiveness of lessons learned from a traumatic past. As with the inaugural edition of the course, the intensive and interactive curriculum was offered in the Romanian language.

Throughout the course, attendees participated in discussions over how a prevention-centric framework can be applied practically in their work, especially in terms of their role in supporting the adoption of preventive agendas that build more resilient and inclusive societies. In the first week of instruction, the participants were introduced to the concepts and legal definitions of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the processes by which those atrocity crimes occur. The second week was dedicated to a detailed analysis of risk factors for mass atrocities and the different processes of transitional justice, ranging from the pursuit of justice to politics of memory. The third and final week of the course centered on the process of coming to terms with Romania’s past. In addition to a variety of transitional justice mechanisms, the memory of past atrocities related to the Holocaust and the country’s communist regime were discussed and analyzed through a prevention lens.

Three live online events complemented the asynchronous course curriculum. The first, an introductory meeting, took place on November 8. This was followed by a public diplomacy event on November 24, which was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The online discussion, which featured the attendance of AIPG Executive Director Dr. Tibi Galis, was dedicated to the memory of righteous diplomats who rescued lives during the Holocaust: Constantin Karadja, Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg, and Chiune “Sempo” Sugihara. During the program’s November 28 closing event, participants were introduced to the goals and work of the National Network for Genocide Prevention and Multidisciplinary Research of Mass Graves, an important governmental initiative in the prevention field. Colonel Magistrate Irinel Rotariu, the Focal Point of the Network, encouraged the participants to think about creative ways of contributing to consolidating this network of experts through their ongoing diplomatic duties.

Dr. Gabriela Ghindea, AIPG’s Director of Mediterranean Basin Programs, concluded:

Through the 2021 edition of the Introduction to Mass Atrocity Prevention online course, AIPG has continued its excellent cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania. This bespoke program highlighted the importance of substantive educational initiatives in the field of atrocity prevention, especially during these disruptive times. I was impressed by the well-documented and nuanced contributions of the participants, which demonstrated their commitment to a prevention-centric approach, both at an institutional and individual level.