The Museum’s Imagine the Unimaginable: Ending Genocide in the 21st Century symposium explores how genocide, mass atrocities, and crimes against humanity might be prevented in the future by understanding future trends in a variety of fields. The following resources explore a range of issues that could have an impact on what causes mass atrocity crimes and how they could be addressed over the course of the 21st century.
FORECASTING: WHERE WILL GENOCIDE HAPPEN NEXT?
In order to prevent genocide, it is important to understand where such crimes could happen. These resources outline efforts to create an early warning system for where mass atrocities might occur:
- In October 2011, the Museum’s Committee on Conscience held a symposium on how to develop an accurate and reliable early warning system for genocide and mass killing.
- The Office of the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide developed an Analysis Framework (external link) to identify where mass atrocity crimes might happen.
- In this TED talk (external link), Jared Diamond, a professor of geography and physiology at UCLA and best-selling author of Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, identifies the signs of collapse from past societies to understand how we can prevent genocides and other mass upheavals in the future.
- The Genocide Prevention Task Force’s chapter on early warning outlines the range of issues related to forecasting genocide and mass atrocities.
- In this blog post (external link), Museum Committee on Conscience Fellow Jay Ulfelder discusses why policymakers should make use of statistical forecasts for crises.
GLOBAL TRENDS AFFECTING MASS VIOLENCE
In the coming decades, environmental challenges and resource scarcity could aggravate ethnic conflicts, affecting why genocides happen and how they are addressed.
- In “The Coming Age of Slaughter: Will Global Warming Unleash Genocide?,” (external link) published in The New Republic, Holocaust scholar Timothy Snyder outlines how environmental panic can be used to further a genocidal ideology.
- In “Land, Water, and Conflict,” (external link) economist Jeffrey Sachs explains that as drylands get drier, crises that might appear similar to what happened in Darfur will continue to arise.
Mobile communications technologies—social media, crisis mapping, and crowd sourcing—are increasingly used to expose human rights abuses and to respond to emergencies.
- A paper (external link) from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative evaluates how technology can be utilized to prevent or address complex crises.
- In “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted,” (external link) the New Yorker’s Malcolm Gladwell explores technology and human rights advocacy.
POLICY AND PLANNING
Governments that want to focus on preventing genocides—rather than only responding to crises after the fact, when it is generally too late to save lives—will need to create new policy and planning structures in order to be proactive when threats arise.
- In an April 2012 speech (external link) at the Museum, President Obama outlined his administration’s new genocide prevention initiative.
- In a Foreign Policy op-ed (external link), former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen reviewed the Obama administration’s approach to deterring mass violence worldwide.
- Council on Foreign Relations scholars Paul B. Stares and Micah Zenko argue in a special report (external link) that the United States should look increasingly to international institutions—such as the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations—as partners in conflict prevention and peacemaking worldwide.
- In "Intervention to Stop Genocide and Mass Atrocities," (external link) Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Matthew C. Waxman examines the international legal system governing the use of force in situations of actual or potential mass atrocities and provides recommendations on how it could better promote timely and effective action in these instances.
- In “The Military Interventions We Don’t Plan For—Those to Protect Civilians,” (external link) Sarah Sewall and Anthony Zinni outline how fighting traditional wars differs significantly from interventions to save civilians from crimes committed against them by their own governments.
- The Mass Atrocity Response Operations (MARO) handbook details how to stop genocide and mass atrocities as part of a broader integrated military planning strategy.
- The Director of National Intelligence’s January 2012 statement (external link) on the worldwide threat assessment covers a range of threats to US interests and, for the first time, outlines mass atrocities as a specific target for intelligence gathering.
- The National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2025 report (external link) explores how key global trends might develop over the next 15 years to influence world events.
Now and in the future, preventing and responding to genocide—no matter how the violence is caused or where it happens—will rely on generating and sustaining the political will of decision makers to take concrete actions.
- In “Beyond Kony: How to Prevent Atrocities before They Happen,” Michael Abramowitz, director of the Museum’s genocide prevention program, discusses how governments can respond to warning signs of violence.
- In the first chapter of its blueprint for preventing genocide, the Genocide Prevention Task Force identified leadership and political will as the most critical elements of a governmental strategy to address mass atrocities.
- In 2009, the Museum convened the International Symposium on Preventing Genocide where leading genocide prevention and human rights officials from around the world assessed the capacity of governments to respond to genocide and mass atrocities.
THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT
The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is a new international norm that address the world’s historic failures to prevent and stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.
- The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (external link) provides background on the norm.
- In the Brookings Institution panel Libya and the Responsibility to Protect (external link), the Museum’s Michael Abramowitz and Ambassador Richard Williams discuss R2P.
GENOCIDE: A PRIMER ON THE ISSUE
The following Museum resources define related terms and provide background information on genocide.