Online Course on Conflict-Related Atrocity Crimes Prevention

From September 14 through October 17 of 2020, the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG) held the inaugural edition of its new online course on Conflict-Related Atrocity Crimes Prevention, AIPG’s first virtual training with a global reach. Operated in partnership with the Irish government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the course welcomed 29 participants from ministries of defense and security forces around the world, including The Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Kenya, Japan, Colombia, Pakistan, Nepal, and Nigeria.

A bespoke curriculum was developed and implemented by AIPG’s Academic Programs Department for the five-week course, which looked to accomplish a series of distinct training objectives. 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 and armed conflict and is the subject of much traditional compliance training in this sector, this new curriculum aims to complement that training by effectively institutionalizing the prevention of conflict-related atrocity crimes across all phases of the conflict cycle.

Over the course of the program’s first week, course participants were introduced to the concepts and legal definitions of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and the processes by which those atrocity crimes occur in the context of armed conflict. The second week was devoted to legal frameworks for the prevention of atrocity crimes. This included modules devoted to international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and international criminal law.

The course’s third week was devoted to risk analysis. During this portion of the course, participants examined the processes by which genocide and other atrocity crimes take place, as well as the categories of specific risk factors that can enable mass atrocities. The fourth week of the course discussed the role of identity in atrocity crimes and their prevention, including cultures of institutional identity within defense and security forces. The fifth and final week of the course centered on conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. This included a focus on the 2008 United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820 on Women, Peace, and Security.

In November of 2020, the next edition of AIPG’s online course on Conflict-Related Atrocity Crimes Prevention will be held for participants in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Several additional offerings of the program are planned for partners at the national, regional, and global level in 2021.