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4 August 2011
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U.S. President announces the creation of an Interagency Atrocities Prevention Board and Corresponding Interagency Review
 
1. The U.S. White House: Presidential Study Directive--Creation of an Interagency Atrocities Prevention Board and Corresponding Interagency Review
2. The U.S. White House: Presidential Proclamation--Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons Who Participate in Serious Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Violations and Other Abuses
3. New York Times – Obama Takes Steps to Help Avert Atrocities
 

 
On 4 August 2011, U.S. President Barrack Obama released a Presidential Study Directive (PSD) to create an Interagency Atrocities Prevention Board and Corresponding Interagency Review stating, “preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States.” The Directive called for the new interagency Board to be created within 120 days to coordinate a government-wide approach to prevent and react to mass atrocities “early, proactively and decisively.” During this interim period, the U.S. Administration will consider the existing range of economic, diplomatic and operational tools available to U.S. policy-makers. The goals of the new Board will include early and less costly preventative action, the collection and processing of mass atrocity indicators, the creation of a channel for dissent during a crisis, and training diplomats, armed services and international development officials, among others. The interagency Board will also work collaboratively with regional allies and partners to uphold the shared responsibility of addressing crimes against humanity. 
 
ICRtoP welcomes this landmark initiative to strengthen U.S. capacity for the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. With these developments, the U.S. government is actualizing its committment to the Responsibility to Protect.
 
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect issued a statement today welcoming the White House’s announcement of the Presidential Directive to prevent those crimes stating, “this decision is an important step in putting the responsibility to protect into practice and moving ‘never again’ from rhetoric to reality.” Michael Abramowitz, of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum also stressed the importance of such an initiative in a video in which he explains the details and impact of the new Directive by the President.
 
 
1. Presidential Study Directive--Creation of an Interagency Atrocities Prevention Board and Corresponding Interagency Review
The White House
4 August 2011
 
(…) Preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States.
 
Our security is affected when masses of civilians are slaughtered, refugees flow across borders, and murderers wreak havoc on regional stability and livelihoods.  America's reputation suffers, and our ability to bring about change is constrained, when we are perceived as idle in the face of mass atrocities and genocide.  Unfortunately, history has taught us that our pursuit of a world where states do not systematically slaughter civilians will not come to fruition without concerted and coordinated effort.
 
Governmental engagement on atrocities and genocide too often arrives too late, when opportunities for prevention or low-cost, low-risk action have been missed.  By the time these issues have commanded the attention of senior policy makers, the menu of options has shrunk considerably and the costs of action have risen.
 
In the face of a potential mass atrocity, our options are never limited to either sending in the military or standing by and doing nothing.  The actions that can be taken are many    they range from economic to diplomatic interventions, and from non combat military actions to outright intervention.  But ensuring that the full range of options is available requires a level of governmental organization that matches the methodical organization characteristic of mass killings.
 
Accordingly, I hereby direct the establishment of an interagency Atrocities Prevention Board within 120 days from the date of this Presidential Study Directive.  The primary purpose of the Atrocities Prevention Board shall be to coordinate a whole of government approach to preventing mass atrocities and genocide.  By institutionalizing the coordination of atrocity prevention, we can ensure:  (1) that our national security apparatus recognizes and is responsive to early indicators of potential atrocities; (2) that departments and agencies develop and implement comprehensive atrocity prevention and response strategies in a manner that allows "red flags" and dissent to be raised to decision makers; (3) that we increase the capacity and develop doctrine for our foreign service, armed services, development professionals, and other actors to engage in the full spectrum of smart prevention activities; and (4) that we are optimally positioned to work with our allies in order to ensure that the burdens of atrocity prevention and response are appropriately shared.
 
To this end, I direct the National Security Advisor to lead a focused interagency study to develop and recommend the membership, mandate, structure, operational protocols, authorities, and support necessary for the Atrocities Prevention Board to coordinate and develop atrocity prevention and response policy.  Specifically, the interagency review shall identify:
 
  • operational protocols necessary for the Atrocities Prevention Board to coordinate and institutionalize the Federal Government's efforts to prevent and respond to potential atrocities and genocide, including but not limited to:  identifying (standing and ex officio) members of the Atrocities Prevention Board; defining the scope of the Atrocity Prevention Board's mandate and the means by which it will ensure that the full range of options and debate is presented to senior-level decision makers; identifying triggers for the development of atrocity prevention strategies; identifying any specific authority the Atrocities Prevention Board or its members should have with respect to alerting the President to a potential genocide or atrocity;
  • how the Intelligence Community and other relevant Government agencies can best support the Atrocities Prevention Board's mission, including but not limited to:  examining the multiplicity of existing early warning assessments in order to recommend how these efforts can be better coordinated and/or consolidated, support the work of the Atrocities Prevention Board, and drive the development of atrocity prevention strategies and policies; examining options for improving intelligence and open source assessments of the potential for genocide and mass atrocities; and examining protocols for safely declassifying and/or sharing intelligence when needed to galvanize regional actors, allies, or relevant institutions to respond to an atrocity or genocide; and
  • steps toward creating a comprehensive policy framework for preventing mass atrocities, including but not limited to:  conducting an inventory of existing tools and authorities across the Government that can be drawn upon to prevent atrocities; identifying new tools or capabilities that may be required; identifying how we can better support and train our foreign and armed services, development professionals, and build the capacity of key regional allies and partners, in order to be better prepared to prevent and respond to mass atrocities or genocide. (…)

See full document here
 
2. Presidential Proclamation--Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons Who Participate in Serious Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Violations and Other Abuses
The White House
4 August 2011
 
(…) SUSPENSION OF ENTRY AS IMMIGRANTS AND NONIMMIGRANTS OF PERSONS WHO PARTICIPATE IN SERIOUS HUMAN RIGHTS AND HUMANITARIAN LAW VIOLATIONS AND OTHER ABUSES
 
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
 
A PROCLAMATION
 
The United States enduring commitment to respect for human rights and humanitarian law requires that its Government be able to ensure that the United States does not become a safe haven for serious violators of human rights and humanitarian law and those who engage in other related abuses.  Universal respect for human rights and humanitarian law and the prevention of atrocities internationally promotes U.S. values and fundamental U.S. interests in helping secure peace, deter aggression, promote the rule of law, combat crime and corruption, strengthen democracies, and prevent humanitarian crises around the globe.  I therefore have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict the international travel and to suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of certain persons who have engaged in the acts outlined in section 1 of this proclamation. (…)
 
Section 1.  The entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of the following persons is hereby suspended:
 
(a)  Any alien who planned, ordered, assisted, aided and abetted, committed or otherwise participated in, including through command responsibility, widespread or systematic violence against any civilian population based in whole or in part on race; color; descent; sex; disability; membership in an indigenous group; language; religion; political opinion; national origin; ethnicity; membership in a particular social group; birth; or sexual orientation or gender identity, or who attempted or conspired to do so.
 
(b)  Any alien who planned, ordered, assisted, aided and abetted, committed or otherwise participated in, including through command responsibility, war crimes, crimes against humanity or other serious violations of human rights, or who attempted or conspired to do so. (…)
 
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth. (…)
 
See full document here
 
3. Obama Takes Steps to Help Avert Atrocities
New York Times
4 August 2011
 
(…) President Obama, looking for ways to strengthen the American response to genocide and other mass atrocities, on Thursday will announce a ban on visas for people who the State Department finds have been involved in human rights violations, White House officials said.
 
Mr. Obama will also issue a presidential directive establishing an Atrocities Prevention Board — made up of officials from the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon and other agencies — aimed toward forming an early-warning system of potential genocide and other politically driven humanitarian catastrophes. The panel, administration officials say, will also be assigned with coming up with a range of American responses to atrocities. (…)
 
While American law already bars certain human rights violators from the United States, the visa ban will fill in gaps, White House officials said, by expanding the grounds for denying entry to include war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations like prolonged arbitrary detention, forced disappearances, slavery and forced labor. (…)
 
A senior White House official said one reason Mr. Obama wanted to set up the Atrocities Prevention Board was to avoid a situation in which the president is presented with only two options to respond to a mass atrocity: intervening militarily or doing nothing, the official said, as was the case with former President Bill Clinton and the Rwanda genocide. (…)
 
Mr. Obama’s action comes as American policy makers are struggling to determine how to handle the worsening situation in Syria, where the government of President Bashar al-Assad has engaged in a bloody crackdown on democracy protesters. Mr. Obama is facing intensifying calls to punish Syria more forcefully; a group of senators introduced legislation on Tuesday that would impose even stronger economic sanctions than those already imposed against Mr. Assad and his senior aides. (…)
 
See full article here
 
 
Thanks to Michael Willis for compiling this listserv.
 

 

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