Promoting human rights mechanisms to prevent mass atrocities: reflections, challenges, and ways forward

20 Oct 2020 | Online

Mass atrocities rarely happen suddenly: they evolve and develop over time. The UN Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes identifies gross and systematic violations of human rights, as well as weak national legislations and/or institutions, among various factors that indicate a risk of atrocity crimes.

History teaches us that such crimes can be prevented long before tensions escalate to violence. Prevention policies offer many opportunities for upstream preventive action, such as the implementation of international human rights instruments at the national level, the dissemination of educational programs on tolerance, integration and peaceful coexistence, as well as the establishment of national prevention policies and mechanisms.

In this regard, The Paris Principles play a key role in atrocity prevention as they foresee the establishment of national human rights commissions to monitor human rights violations and to contribute to the act as harmonization of national legislations, regulations and practices with international human rights instruments.

The virtual panel will explore good practices and experiences from national human rights commissions or mechanisms in bringing national legislations and institutions to international human rights standards with the view to strengthen the national capacity to prevent the commission of or recurrence of mass atrocities.

As revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic, crises affect women and girls disproportionally, the virtual panel will also highlight the status of ratification and implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as this year commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325.

In this vein, Costa Rica, Denmark, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect as members of the Global Action Against Mass Atrocities (GAAMAC) Steering Group are co-hosting a virtual panel discussion, featuring an array of diverse expertise and experiences from different stakeholders, with the aim of identifying and examining challenges and good practices in atrocity prevention by national human rights mechanisms.

Tuesday 20 October | 4:00-5:30 pm CET


  • Nanna Krusaa, Senior Consultant and team leader, ethnicity, equal treatment, the Danish Institute for Human Rights
  • Victor Madrígal-Borloz, Eleanor Senior Visiting Researcher, Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program and Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante, Former Chairman of the Ghana National Peace Council
  • Savita Pawnday, Deputy Executive Director of the Global Centre for R2P

The virtual panel will be moderated by Ms. Mô Bleeker, GAAMAC Chair and Special Envoy for Dealing with the Past and Prevention of Atrocities, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).

It will be followed by a Q&A session with all registered participants.