June 26, 2018

Cardin, Young Bill to Bolster U.S. Genocide Prevention Efforts Passes Senate Foreign Relations Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday passed legislation to bolster U.S. government efforts to prevent genocide and other human rights atrocities around the world. The bill was authored by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2017 affirms the importance of strengthening U.S. efforts related to mass atrocities through interagency tools like the Atrocities Prevention Board (APB) and would authorize training for U.S. Foreign Service Officers in recognizing and reporting on early signs of atrocities and transitional justice measures. 

“The United States has a moral and strategic imperative to help prevent and respond to acts of genocide and other mass atrocities, and this legislation would ensure the U.S. government is better prepared to fulfill this serious responsibility,” said Senator Young. “This bipartisan legislation would help the United States put the commitment of ‘Never Again’ into action.”

“Atrocity crimes tragically persist around the globe, from Syria and South Sudan to Burma and Iraq. This bill, named in honor of the courageous, inspiring Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, strengthens the U.S. government’s infrastructure to prevent, mitigate, and respond to genocide and other mass atrocities wherever they may occur,” said Senator Cardin, who also serves as the special representative for anti-Semitism, intolerance, and racism at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly. “Our values and national security interests require us to ensure that the United States utilizes the full arsenal of diplomatic, economic, and legal tools to take meaningful action before atrocities occur. The United States must do a better job of responding earlier and more effectively to these heinous crimes.”

The legislation:

  • Affirms the importance of strengthening U.S. efforts around mass atrocities through interagency tools like the Atrocities Prevention Board (APB);
  • States that preventing genocide and mass atrocities are core U.S. national security interests and calls on the Administration to pursue a government-wide strategy to: strengthen U.S. diplomatic, risk analysis/monitoring, early warning, and response capacities around atrocity crimes; improve the use of U.S. foreign assistance to address the root causes of violent conflict; strengthen support to transitional justice mechanisms and local civil society groups in countries at risk of or experiencing mass atrocities; prioritize preventative diplomacy through unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral mechanisms;
  • Requires specialized training for Foreign Service Officers who will be deployed to a country experiencing or at risk of mass atrocities; and
  • Mandates annual reporting to Congress of Administration efforts to prevent and respond to mass atrocities and an assessment of countries and regions at risk of such violence.