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Online Course on Conflict-Related Atrocity Crimes Prevention

Building on the success of the inaugural edition of the Auschwitz Institute’s course on Conflict-Related Atrocity Crimes Prevention, the latest edition of the course was held between November 9 and December 12 of 2020. Made possible through funding by the Government of the Republic of Ireland, the course comes as the result of a multi-year consultation process that involved an array of global experts. It is designed specifically for public officials working in ministries of defense and high-level security forces. The latest edition of the course was offered to prevention professionals in Africa, welcoming 24 participants from Burundi, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

Conflict-related atrocity crimes, including the perpetration of war crimes, continue to be a global challenge. While international humanitarian law regulates the conduct of war or armed conflict and is the subject of much traditional compliance training in this sector, the course’s curriculum aims to complement this by effectively institutionalizing the prevention of conflict-related atrocity crimes across all phases of the conflict cycle.

The five-week virtual course was divided into an equal number of thematic focuses. The first week of the course focused on key concepts for the prevention of atrocity crimes, while the following week dedicated itself to relevant legal frameworks for prevention, including emphases on international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and international criminal law. Week three was dedicated to atrocity crimes risk analysis. This involved an examination of the processes by which genocide and other atrocity crimes occur and the identification of relevant risk factors in the realms of governance, conflict history, economic conditions, and social fragmentation.

The fourth week of the course focused on the ways in which ordinary people can come to commit atrocity crimes. This segment of the course featured an examination of the role of identity in the prevention of atrocity crimes and the impact of cultures of institutional identity, as they relate to defense and security forces. The fifth and final week of the course covered conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence (CR-SGBV), including a discussion on the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1820 on women, peace, and security. Participants engaged with their responsibility to prevent CR-SGBV and interacted with a variety of training, accountability, and leadership strategies for addressing this form of violence.

Thanks to the support of Ireland, the Auschwitz Institute will offer nine additional editions of its course on Conflict-Related Atrocity Crimes Prevention in 2021. This includes a forthcoming session that will be offered to a global audience of public officials, with future courses organized specifically for Anglophone and Francophone participants in Africa, Latin American participants, and members of the Nigerian armed forces.