New Perspectives on Genocide Prevention

by Adeena Eisen

“This is not just a humanitarian issue,” said Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of New America, a think-tank based in Washington D.C. Slaughter was referring to the international community’s handling of mass atrocities. On January 31, 2017, she spoke as part of the panel “After Aleppo: Prospects for Preventing Mass Atrocities in the New Trump Administration,” which I had the privilege of attending at the New America headquarters. The purpose of the panel was to address how the United States and the international community should respond to mass atrocities, especially in light of the new Trump administration.

Slaughter, who introduced the panel, spoke of how it is a grave mistake to address mass atrocities solely as humanitarian crises. In fact, if governments that commit human rights abuses are not stopped, they will inevitably pose security threats to the international community.

Such a perspective is vital to the goals of Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG). The genocide in Darfur does not just affect people living in the immediate region, but it also has repercussions for the global community. For example, the flow of refugees to European countries from crisis-affected areas—including Darfur—has presented major challenges to the European Union (EU). If the international community had acted preemptively to end such crises in Darfur or elsewhere, perhaps Europe would be dealing with a less overwhelming influx of refugees, which is difficult for any society to handle. This demonstrates that the international community has a stake in preventing mass atrocities.

Of course, preventing mass atrocities must be done out of good will too, or else it leads to short-sighted solutions. For example, the European Union (EU) is currently investing large sums of money to prevent more refugees from entering Europe. Even if this ‘solution’ is successful in keeping refugees out of European borders, it will not benefit the victims or end the genocide in Darfur.

Unfortunately, the tools needed to deal with genocide and other mass atrocities are limited. Luckily, other speakers on the panel were able to offer potential solutions that could expand the range of tools needed to prevent such crimes against humanity. Rich Fontaine, President of the Center for New American Policy, discussed the importance of investigating the financing of mass atrocities. This strategy could be especially relevant because the U.S. recently lifted sanctions on the Sudanese government. Reinstating these sanctions may block some of the financial resources that enable the government to commit human rights abuses against Darfuris.

This panel was valuable because it serves as a reminder that we must speak up and raise awareness among global leaders that ending the genocide in Darfur is in their own interest. By doing so, we can hold the Sudanese government accountable for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur and change how the international community responds to genocide.