AIPR Participates in Karski Memory and Responsibility Conference

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – On September 19, 2014, AIPR’s Executive Director Tibi Galis, Director of Policy and Planning Samantha Capicotto, and Board Member Sheri Rosenberg participated in the Jan Karski 2014 International Conference on Memory and Responsibility at Loyola University Chicago.

The two-day conference centered on the legacy of Jan Karski—a Polish WWII resistance fighter who was among the first to publicly report on the destruction of Polish Jewry by the Nazi regime—and was sponsored by Loyola’s Interdisciplinary Polish Studies Program, the Jan Karski Educational Foundation, plus the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago.

U.S. Senator Richard Durbin opened the conference, highlighting Karski as a political hero whose efforts to publicize Nazi war crimes offers important call to action towards confronting atrocities today. The AIPR-led panel discussion, “Preventing Genocide and Mass Atrocities in Practice Today: The Nongovernmental Sector Supporting Governmental Action,” drew upon this theme. It featured Mr. Galis, Ms. Rosenberg and Jennifer Smyser, Director of Policy Programming at the Stanley Foundation, and was moderated by Mrs. Capicotto.

In his remarks, Tibi Galis outlined the mission, strategies, and accomplishments of the Latin American Network for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention. The Networks’ chief aims, said Galis, are the institutionalization of prevention policy and practice in every Network Member State and in the region, plus the establishment of a common vocabulary and space for exchange of best practices in this field. Galis then identified three priority areas for action within the Network, including a focus on anti-discrimination programs, protection of the rights of indigenous populations, and programs of transitional justice. Galis views the Network’s success through the development and implementation at a national level of public policies designed to prevent genocide and other mass atrocities. These policies are country-specific and vary from state to state across Latin America. Paraguay and Argentina, for example, have formed National Mechanisms for the Prevention of Genocide. In Colombia, said Galis, the government has incorporated a genocide and mass atrocity prevention module into their annual human rights and international humanitarian law seminars for high-level government officials. Uruguay is implementing national training programs in prevention for blue helmeted Uruguayan UN troops, he added.

In addition to the panel featuring AIPR, the Jan Karski 2014 International Conference on Memory and Responsibility also hosted discussions on the Responsibility to Protect, historical memory, and the Karski legacy. Additional information about this conference can be found here.