Growing Global Efforts to End Mass Atrocities
Daniel Sullivan (blog post), United to End Genocide
27 June 2013
Daniel Sullivan is the Director of Policy and Government Relations at United to End Genocide.
Last week I joined activists, experts, human rights defenders, and survivors of atrocities from 33 countries on 6 continents in Istanbul, Turkey, to discuss global efforts to end mass atrocities. The gathering was impressive and inspirational even as the location, in a country on track to take in a million refugees from its burning neighbor Syria, was also a stark reminder of just how much work remains to be done.
Sitting on a panel exploring how activist constituencies can be built up to combat genocide and atrocities, I shared the experiences of United to End Genocide, from our roots in the unprecedented activism of the Save Darfur movement to the increasing online activism embodied in our recent efforts on BashirWatch and the viral success of partner groups on Kony 2012. (…)
Reassuringly, other efforts to end mass atrocities already exist and are expanding in countries throughout the world. Canada has a Parliamentary Group that focuses on Genocide Prevention. Latin America has long had a Human Rights network and has recently set up its own Network for Genocide and Mass Atrocities Prevention. And several African countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda have set up national committees for the prevention and punishment of genocide and mass atrocities.
The question is not whether people across the globe share the vision of ending mass atrocities, but rather how to connect those efforts in the most effective way for making international genocide prevention as strong as possible.
Again, the setting was both inspirational and sobering. Among the participants were Human Rights Defenders risking their lives daily, and survivors of mass violence in Cambodia, Rwanda, Sri Lanka (…). Days before the convening, water cannons and tear gas had been used to clear protestors from Istanbul’s Taksim Square. And it was sobering to remember that just a few hours’ drive away, hundreds of thousands of refugees were gathering along the Turkish-Syrian border.
But a spirit of growing solidarity was also acutely present at the convening and shown itself in unique ways. Brazilian participants at the conference joined Turkish protesters in silent solidarity with their yearning for better freedom and human rights. A Sudanese activist, banned from his home country for his human rights advocacy, was traveling to the Turkish-Syrian border to lead Syrian opposition in a training in peaceful advocacy. (…)