Mass Violence and Atrocities | Readout and Recommendations

Advancing Transatlantic Linkages on Responsibility to Protect and Mass Atrocity Prevention

November 2014


“Mass atrocities are said to be the antithesis of development.”

A critical component of mass atrocity prevention is the ability of like-minded, politically influential, and operationally capable allies to develop and implement cooperative strategies. One avenue for pursuing this type of cooperation is focusing on the role of longstanding transatlantic partnerships.

By examining the existing policies, institutional capacities, bureaucratic blockages, differing understandings, and shared interests related to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and mass atrocity prevention, it is possible to propose additional steps for supporting common security objectives.

Transatlantic allies have built an important strategic and historical relationship, including affirming their commitment to cooperative action to prevent atrocities through vehicles such as the World Summit outcome document endorsing R2P. Yet, practical strategies and plans for cooperative action have lagged behind aspirations and normative frameworks.

At the 55th annual Strategy for Peace Conference, from October 15–17, 2014, near Washington, DC, the Stanley Center convened a group of 30 US government and international officials, mass atrocity specialists, and civil society representatives to examine the current state of transatlantic cooperation and explore avenues for enhanced collaboration for atrocity prevention.

Participants investigated both normative and operational challenges to increasing cooperation between states and among international organizations and civil society actors on both sides of the Atlantic. Participants focused on four key elements for advancing a transatlantic agenda on the Responsibility to Protect and mass atrocity prevention:

  • Shared focus on and understanding of prevention.
  • Developing shared diagnostic capacity.
  • Learning from challenges and maturing norms and institutions.
  • Critical inflection points on the horizon.

This policy dialogue brief offers highlights of the discussion and recommendations of roundtable participants.