Mass Violence and Atrocities | Readout and Recommendations

Atrocity Prevention and US National Security: Implementing the Responsibility to Protect

January 2011


The last decade has furnished innumerable reminders that mass atrocities committed against civilian populations remain both a pervasive reality of global politics and a fundamental threat to international peace and security. In its recently issued National Security Strategy (NSS), the Obama administration recognized this threat and identified the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as a critical tool to prevent and respond to genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. Within the US government, institutional adjustments inspired by the Genocide Prevention Task Force’s 2008 report, Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for US Policymakers, have been made in parallel with similar developments at the United Nations, each intended to move the commitments inherent in the Responsibility to Protect from political rhetoric to actionable policy.

As part of its 51st annual Strategy for Peace Conference, the Stanley Center convened approximately 25 participants at Airlie Center near Washington, DC, to discuss ongoing efforts to elaborate the US government’s strategic approach to genocide and mass atrocities, explore next steps for effective institutional development, and encourage strategic dialogue between US institutions and their multilateral partners at the United Nations. Participants included key US government and UN officials, diplomats, and mass atrocity specialists.