AJC Applauds New U.S. Plan to Prevent Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Aug 04, 2011, 11:29 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, Aug. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC applauds President Obama's announcement today of a bold initiative to strengthen the U.S. government's ability to respond to and prevent genocide and mass atrocities worldwide.

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"President Obama has demonstrated America's commitment to moral and international legal obligations to identify and react to warning signs of genocide and mass atrocity, and then act to prevent them," said AJC Executive Director David Harris.  AJC is the global Jewish advocacy organization.

"For decades, AJC, especially its Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, has urged Washington and governments around the world to develop the sort of genocide prevention strategies President Obama announced today, to ensure that the promise of 'never again' becomes a reality," Harris said.

The measures announced today would designate and coordinate the U.S. government bodies that identify emerging risks of mass atrocities and genocide, and seek to prevent their commission.  An interagency Atrocity Prevention Board will be created to coordinate those agencies' future efforts.

In addition, President Obama expanded the grounds for denying entry into the U.S. to individuals who have committed serious human rights violations, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Genocide prevention has long been a priority issue for AJC.  In April, JBI published Compilation of Risk Factors and Legal Norms for the Prevention of Genocide. This compendium, assembled at the request of the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Dr. Francis M. Deng, presents a set of risk factors for genocide and their normative bases in international law.

Previously, AJC supported and commemorated the work of Raphael Lemkin, the Polish Jewish scholar who coined the term "genocide" and drafted much of the Genocide Convention. AJC also supported the efforts of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and the International Criminal Court to prosecute perpetrators of genocide and mass atrocities. In recent months, AJC urged the U.S. government to take action to prevent mass atrocities in both Libya and Syria.

As an early member of the Holocaust Memorial Council, then-AJC Washington Representative Hyman Bookbinder, who died last month at 95, pressed for the creation of a Committee on Conscience to focus attention on genocide prevention.

SOURCE American Jewish Committee