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Tue. July 16, 2019
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Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright Speaks on Genocide Prevention
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By Ben Linden Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright spoke last Tuesday at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs about the need for the international community to take action to prevent genocide. The former Secretary of State, who has co-chaired along with former Secretary of Defense William Cohen the Genocide Prevention Task Force, called for preventative action on the part of the United States and the international community. She outlined four recommendations that she believes President Obama should take in order to make the US more capable of preventing genocide before it occurs: (1) Take a proactive role to demonstrate to the US and the World that preventing genocide and mass atrocities is a national priority, perhaps by issuing an executive order to that effect, (2) create a body within the United States National Security Council to analyze threats and consider preventative action, (3) set up a fund of $250 million for crisis prevention and response, and (4) help create an international network for the sharing of information and the coordination of preventative action. Albright emphasized that in order for genocide prevention to be effective, the US must cultivate relationships with strong and capable partners who could act as “force multipliers.” Albright also emphasized the difficulty associated with pinpointing potentially genocidal situations, noting that mass atrocities take all different shapes. Some atrocities, she noted, take place in the absence of a strong central government, as in Somalia, while others are perpetrated under the presence of an overbearing government, as in Myanmar; some occur as violations of sovereignty, as in the case of Russia’s invasion of Georgia, while others occur as uses of sovereignty, as in Sudan. Albright expressed optimism that more effective genocide prevention mechanisms could take shape soon, noting that the issue was a bipartisan one. “One of the people I’ve worked closely with on this issue has been Senator Sam Brownback,” she noted, adding that “no one is pro-genocide.” Addressing the genocide that occurred in Rwanda under her watch, Albright expressed a deep sense of guilt. Calling that situation a “volcanic genocide,” she added that “it happened so quickly, it would have been very difficult to get forces over there. We should have tried, though.” With regard to the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Albright admitted that there was no easy answer. She did emphasize, however, that the world community must be careful not to level collective guilt, but to instead identify and empower responsible leaders who could replace President Omar Bashir. Albright expressed her satisfaction with the International Criminal Court for issuing a warrant for Bashir’s arrest, but called it a “slap in the face” when foreign governments allow him to travel to their countries without facing arrest, as was recently the case when Bashir attended the Arab League Summit in Qatar. Despite the grim subject matter of her talk, the Former Secretary of State expressed optimism that “now is the best time ever to move the bureaucracy toward genocide prevention.” Former Secretary of State Albright is co-chair of the Genocide Prevention Task Force, which recently released its report, "Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for U.S. Policymakers”.

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