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As transitional justice has grown as a field and as an international mandate in post-atrocity contexts over the past several decades, the memorialization of past atrocities through the construction of physical spaces of memory has increasingly been recognized as an essential aspect of this complex process. Equally, the vast array of memory spaces developed in relation to these processes has expanded beyond historical monuments or statues to include memorial museums, immersive memorial spaces, sites of mass atrocity that have been converted into sites of memory, peace parks and gardens, counter-monuments, and any number of other memorials, constructed at both the state and grassroots levels. Often, these spaces of memory are touted not only as honoring past victims, but also as important tools for preventing future violence. However, in order to actively contribute to atrocity prevention, memory sites must become more than static sites of remembrance, but dynamic spaces of prevention.
To date, the project team has conducted more than 160 interviews at 109 different sites of memory, memory initiatives, and other related human rights and atrocity prevention organizations in 7 different countries around the world to assess which atrocity risk factors sites of memory are best positioned to mitigate, and how memory sites, through exhibitions, programming, and outreach, contribute to reducing the likelihood that violence will recur. The post-atrocity countries visited include Argentina, Cambodia, Colombia, Morocco, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, and South Africa. Additionally, the project team distributed a questionnaire evaluating if and how memory sites respond to and impact the risk factors that are connected to mass atrocity violence through their design and programming. We received more than 250 responses from sites of memory spanning across 55 countries.
Based on the results of these interviews and the questionnaire responses, the research team, led by Dr. Kerry Whigham, AIPG’s Director of Research Development and Online Education, has developed a toolkit that shares guiding principles for incorporating an atrocity prevention lens into current or future programming at memory sites. This toolkit provides concrete examples of programming that has successfully responded to risk factors and offers practical tools for assessing risk and adapting programming to respond to those risks. The toolkit will be published in June 2023. The project will also result in a policy paper that will serve as a guide for donors wanting to support atrocity prevention programs, expected to be released in early 2024.
Upon publication of the toolkit, we will begin accepting proposals for small fixed amount awards (FAAs) for memory sites to adapt current programming or implement new programming that incorporates an atrocity prevention/risk mitigation framework based on the recommendations in the toolkit. (Please note that this is a closed invitation process and is limited to memory sites who participated in the project.)
Roland-Sylvestre DAWA is a Legal Lecturer and Researcher at the Faculty of Legal and Political Sciences at the University of Bangui in the Central African Republic (CAR) and a Ph.D. student in International Relations, specializing in international politics at IRIC Yaoundé in Cameroon. He has participated in three AIPG online training courses and in-person training sessions on the prevention of genocide and identity-based violence.