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Assessing the Anti-Atrocity Toolbox

9 Mar 2016 17:27

The World Peace Foundation has published an Occasional Paper, “Assessing the Anti-Atrocity Toolbox” by Bridget Conley-Zilkic, Saskia Brechenmacher and Aditya Sarkar, that asks what do we know about the effectiveness of various policy mechanisms that often  the examining scholarly literature that tests the impact of various policy measures often cited as potential measures that state or international organizations could deploy when faced with a situation that demonstrates or threatens mass violence against civilians.

The international failure to prevent and mitigate mass violence against civilians in the post-Cold War era, notably in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Rwanda, sparked a series of stock-taking efforts within international organizations, national governments and the broader policy community. Emerging from these reviews was a new set of insights that form the foundation of today’s anti-atrocity policies:

  • Reducing violence against civilians is one of the most important measures by which the success of international interventions should be measured;
  • Waiting until violence meets or approaches the legal definition of genocide means delaying responses until it is too late. This recognition provoked two shifts: a shift away from the legal term ‘genocide’ to other vocabularies, like ‘mass atrocities,’ and a growing emphasis on ‘prevention;’
  • Preventative action and early response increase the likelihood of success of any policy measure, and decrease the human and financial costs of responding;
  • International response should not be limited to all or nothing. Considerable energy was spent elaborating the conditions in which coercive military interventions in the name of civilian protection could be undertaken, yet effective responses short of this are both possible and desirable.

To read the full paper, click here.