In September of 2019, with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania and the Public Ministry of Romania, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) organized a pair of training seminars for the country’s public officials working on the prevention of genocide and other mass atrocities. The first, held in Iasi on September 9-11, welcomed 20 participants, including military prosecutors, judges, academics, forensic specialists, police officers, military experts on disasters and other emergencies, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Public Ministry. The second seminar, which took place in Cluj on September 12 and 13, involved the participation of 18 civil and military prosecutors, judges, academics, police officers, and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Public Ministry. Both seminars benefitted from an interdisciplinary team of international and Romanian instructors, with strong representation from the Mediterranean Basin region as a whole.
While the two seminars welcomed a different group of participants drawn from the area in which each was held, they shared a common curriculum. This reflects the ongoing emphasis that has been made at the national level on cultivating a robust baseline of foundational knowledge in prevention among relevant public officials – an objective that was first established during the launch of the National Expert Network on Genocide Prevention and Multidisciplinary Research of Mass Graves in Bucharest in September of 2018. As such, AIPR has collaborated with officials on three distinct training programs since that time, not only building core preventive capacities but also incorporating a thematic focus on the investigation of mass graves, which represents a strategic priority for Romania.
A significant component of this approach has involved the implementation of training programs in different regions of the country in order to build a consistent level of expertise and foster the development of best practices and their integration into the government’s preventive work. This also represents an important part of the preparations that Romania is undertaking to assume a leadership role in the Mediterranean Basin Network for Atrocity Crimes Prevention, which is planned to launch later this year in Bucharest.
As a whole, the seminars represented a significant success, reemphasizing the Romanian government’s commitment to advancing a prevention agenda, both domestically and across southeastern Europe. AIPR’s Director of Mediterranean Basin Programs, Dr. Gabriela Ghindea, explains:
The Auschwitz Institute’s constructive partnerships with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Public Ministry have once again created opportunities to facilitate important dialogue for, and among, several categories of public officials working on topics related to atrocity prevention. This speaks to the value of our interdisciplinary approach.
The Seminars’ instructional teams featured strong Romanian representation and the seminars’ vivid discussions have demonstrated the important steps that have been – and are being – taken to confront Romania’s dark past. The fact that these initiatives are not being limited to academic discussions and can be found in several other sectors of society is encouraging and galvanizes our efforts to cultivate the development of policies and practices that are informed by the lessons of the past.