A series of four regional fora on the prevention of genocide took place in Argentina (2008), Tanzania (2010), Switzerland (2011) and Cambodia (2013) after which a High-Level Working Meeting on the Prevention of Atrocities was conducted in Dar es Salaam in March 2013, co-organized by the Tanzanian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.
The participants included representatives of six states – three engaged in the Prevention of Genocide network (Argentina, Switzerland, and Tanzania) and three serving as co-facilitators of the National Focal Point Initiative for the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) (Australia, Costa Rica, and Denmark). Additionally, representatives participated from the UN Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide (OSAPG), regional organizations, non-governmental organizations and experts in the field of genocide prevention (GP) and R2P. The Working Meeting sought to identify: commonalities between the two communities – GP and R2P; gaps at national and regional levels to preventing mass atrocities and mechanisms to overcome these gaps; and finally, key elements for the development of national architectures and programmes for the prevention of mass atrocity crimes.
The participants at the Working Meeting noted the growing interdependence between the national, regional and international levels. They stressed the need for a greater legitimacy and credibility in strategies and policies for the prevention of atrocities and the protection of civilians. Participants agreed that in order to strengthen atrocity prevention at the national level it was necessary to:
- ensure effective national architectures for the prevention of mass atrocity crimes
- appoint national focal points
- strengthen synergies between the two communities for joint efforts on the prevention of mass atrocity crimes
- engage with other states as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the prevention of mass atrocities at the national, regional, and international level
The participants identified a number of tasks that could be undertaken by this group of concerned states and NGOs to jointly strengthen atrocity prevention. They agreed that there was a need to:
- develop a common working language
- develop education efforts and awareness-raising
- convene a larger and more diverse constituency
- multiply outreach efforts (international public events)
- ensure tangible results in the field at the national level
- engage in joint training and policy development
- ensure sustainability for these efforts (knowledge, resources, structure)
The participants agreed that building national prevention efforts is essential in order to strengthen global efforts in the prevention of mass atrocities. They also agreed that it is necessary to build momentum at the global level for such developments.
To accomplish this, participants saw the need for states to strengthen their efforts through the creation of a “Community of Commitment” that would enable the existing networks engaged at the regional and global levels to exchange information, experiences, problems and challenges, and share practical actions and solutions for preventing atrocities at the national level.
The participants decided to create “Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes” (GAAMAC).
GAAMAC is a state-led initiative to prevent mass atrocity crimes (war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and ethnic cleansing)
GAAMAC focuses on prevention at the national and regional level.
GAAMAC supports states engaged in preventing mass atrocity crimes and it assists states that are considering developing preventive strategies.
GAAMAC serves as a platform for exchange and dissemination of learning and good practices.
Since its founding, GAAMAC has formed a Steering Group, drafted a Founding Document, held two global meetings -- GAAMAC I in Costa Rica 2014 and GAAMAC II in Manila 2016 -- and is working toward expanding its outreach to states and civil society groups working on atrocity prevention.