To: The United States House of Representatives and The United States Senate
Congress: Save Lives, Prioritize Genocide Prevention!
Support a whole-of-government approach to genocide and mass atrocity prevention by institutionalizing the Atrocities Prevention Board.
Why is this important?
“A destruction, an annihilation that only man can provoke, only man can prevent.” -Elie Wiesel
50 million people are currently displaced by conflict around the world. Responding to displacement has required spending billions to support life-saving humanitarian assistance and other cost-intensive interventions. The crisis in Syria is a stark example. Four years of conflict have resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 civilians, a crushed economy, and the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. Experts estimate that even if the war ends tomorrow, it will take 40 to 50 years for Syria’s economy to recuperate.
Yet, in this context, the Atrocities Prevention Board (APB), the only high-level U.S. body focusing on preventing genocide and mass atrocities, is at risk of being dismantled. Founded in 2012, the APB has facilitated vital information-sharing between government agencies and helped the US respond to crises in Burundi and Central African Republic. Without Congressional authorization, the APB risks abolishment by the next presidential administration, regardless of party.
Now, more than ever before, it is vital that the U.S. invest in genocide and atrocity prevention. As we have seen in Darfur, South Sudan, and Syria, we are in vital need of prevention mechanisms to save lives before conflict escalates.
As we reflect on the lives lost in conflicts such as Armenia and Namibia at the beginning of the 20th century, the Holocaust in the 1940s, Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990s, and those living with the consequences of such atrocities today, we commit ourselves to fighting for a world without genocide and mass atrocities. We urge Congress to support the swift and uninhibited institutionalization of the Atrocities Prevention Board. The U.S. has been a leader in the fight to end genocide -- we must continue to lead on this vital bipartisan issue, lest more lives be sacrificed as we fail to prevent.