What is Known about Prevention and Mitigation of Genocidal Violence
Papers from the June 2010 Meeting
of the Genocide Prevention Advisory Network
Focus: Prevention and Mitigation of Genocide and Mass Atrocities
in East and Central Africa, and in the Islamic World
Yehuda Bauer, Andrea Bartoli, Ted Robert Gurr
The Genocide Prevention Advisory Group (GPANet) is an informal, international network of experts on the causes, consequences, and prevention of genocide and other mass atrocities. Its members provide risk assessments and advice to any interested parties, including the UN, individual governments, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, and any other international political grouping that designs and promotes policies aimed at preventing and mitigating mass atrocities that have or may acquire genocidal dimensions.
The first annual meetings were held in Switzerland. In June 2010, GPANet members met in the USA to review current expert knowledge about the prevention and mitigation of genocidal violence. Most of the papers focused on East and Central Africa, and on the Islamic world. This report consists of contributions by GPANet members presented at the Point of View Center of the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University, Virginia. The style of the GPANet workshops is one of in-depth consultations opened by papers that focus debates on crucial issues. The purpose is to deepen the collective knowledge of the participants, observers, governmental representatives, and the institutions involved, and in so doing hone the group's advisory capabilities.
The inception of GPANet took place in the late 1990s when some of its members were (and are) involved in the work of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF) initiated by the Swedish government (1998), along with those of the United States and United Kingdom. The ITF now consists of 27 member governments. Group members then became the core of the academic planning group for the Stockholm International Forum on Holocaust Education in 2000, and subsequently for the inter-governmental Stockholm Forum in 2004 on Genocide Prevention, both initiated and organized by the Swedish government. The group subsequently renamed itself the Genocide Prevention Advisory Network and expanded its membership. With the help of the Swiss Federal government, it has held annual meetings since then.
GPANet's collective contributions, as well as the contributions of its individual members, have been offered, largely, in confidential submissions. To this have now been added efforts to make the group's work better known in public fora. Members of the group contributed to the journal POLITORBIS (issue 47, on Genocide Prevention, 2010) published by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (EDA), http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home/doc/publi/ppol.html . Now, in addition, the papers from the June 2010 meetings are available at http://www.gpanet.org/. They are intended to attract decision-makers' attention and promote the accumulation and sharing of greater knowledge about genocide prevention, especially through the interaction of established experts and committed governments.
Against the background of a discussion about what is currently known globally about prevention and/or mitigation of potentially genocidal violence, the GPANet 2010 conference devoted special attention to current and potential conflicts in East and Central Africa, an area extending west-east from Chad to Somalia and north-south from Sudan to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The reason for this focus is the fact that it is home to nine of the world's 25 countries at highest risk of future instability. From a parallel perspective, the region includes six of the 20 countries at highest risk of future genocide and politicide, according to Barbara Harff's 2009 analysis. It is however also the region where new commitments to genocide prevention are emerging.
GPANet also discussed the very important initiative of the Swiss and Argentinian governments, which held a first regional inter-governmental conference on Genocide Prevention for Latin American countries in Buenos Aires in December 2008. Some GPAN members participated as outside experts. After the success of this meeting, a second regional Forum on Genocide Prevention, in which all African countries took part, was organized by the governments of Switzerland, Argentina and Tanzania in Arusha in March 2010. Important initiatives resulted, especially of course for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). GPANet members again participated as outside experts. Attempts are and will be made to arrange for similar meetings in other world regions as well, and GPANet members will make their expertise available if and when asked.
The June 2010 discussions of GPANet were enriched by the informal contributions of members of other key organizations in the field, including representatives from the Office of Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and from the Committee on Conscience at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
Thanks to the generous contribution of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (EDA), GPANet has been able to organize the annual meetings and its activities so far, including the issuance of these proceedings. Swiss diplomats and colleagues have been centrally important observers and friends at all our meetings, and have shared their extensive knowledge with us, just as we have tried to be of use to their initiatives. The Network is now pursuing further contacts with potentially interested governments. An exploration is underway to host the 2011 annual meeting of GPANet in Sweden.
We look forward to hearing comments and feedbacks from those who review these papers,, and hope to collaborate with all academics and others of good will in this vital undertaking.