The International Campaign to End Genocide: A Review of Its First Ten Years

Gregory H. Stanton
Founder and President, Genocide Watch

Genocides, politicides and other mass murders killed more people in the twentieth century than all the wars combined. "Never again" turned into "Again and again."  Again and again, the response to genocide and other forms of mass murder was too little and too late.

Yet until 1999 there was no international movement on the order of an Amnesty International dedicated to ending genocide in the twenty-first century.  I will describe Genocide Watch's efforts to create such a movement, and will make some proposals about where we should go from here.

Genocide Watch

In 1985, Leo Kuper and Martin Ennals founded International Alert Against Genocide and Massacres.  They hoped to start a movement against genocide, but Leo soon became frustrated when International Alert lost its focus on genocide.  IA has done very good work on conflict resolution and early warning, although it has never declared an "international alert."  In the late ‘80's, Leo Kuper and I went to New York together to meet with the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch to propose the formation of a new organization to be called Genocide Watch, to begin as a project of Human Rights Watch.  We hoped it would be sponsored by an already existing human rights organization with a solid financial base, so that it would not have to go through all the start-up time and costs of founding a new, free-standing organization.  Unfortunately, the Executive Director did not have time to meet with us, so we had coffee with an intern - a very bright intern who later worked in the Legal Advisers office at the State Department, but who did not convince his Executive Director to adopt the project.

I never gave up on the idea.  In June of 1998, I wrote a proposal for a 501(c)(3) to be incorporated as Genocide Watch.  Its purpose would be to lead an international campaign to end genocide made up of a coalition of human rights, religious, legal, and civil society NGO's from around the world.  I took the proposal around to a number of organizations in Washington, D.C.  The International Crisis Group, the group I thought could best lead the movement, was going through financial and leadership crises of its own.  Human Rights Watch already had too many other special projects.  It didn't fit within Amnesty International's "mandate."  So Genocide Watch, Inc. was incorporated in 1998 in order to organize and coordinate an international coalition against genocide.

At the Hague Appeal for Peace in May, 1999, a coalition of ten organizations from the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Israel co-founded a new coalition called the Campaign to End Genocide.  The coalition included Genocide Watch (USA), The World Federalist Association (USA), The Cambodian Genocide Program, GenNet (USA), International Alert, Physicians for Human Rights (UK), The Leo Kuper Foundation (UK), The Committee for an Effective International Law (Germany), The Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide (Israel), and Prevent Genocide International (USA).

Having observed the successes of the NGO coalitions that had helped bring about the Rome Treaty of the International Criminal Court and the International Treaty to Ban Landmines, we thought the best model of organization for the movement was a coalition.  However, those movements also had secretariats sponsored by one of their founding members and each was led by a brilliant organizer (Bill Pace and Jodie Williams, respectively) with a full-time salary from a sponsoring organization.  The World Federalist Association (USA) agreed to play that role for the Campaign to End Genocide, although the motion passed at the July 1999 meeting of its Executive Committee by only one vote.  At the same meeting, Tim Barner, the original backer of the Campaign, was ousted from his job.

In March 2000, the new President and CEO of the World Federalist Association - U.S.A., John Anderson, reversed the previous decision of the WFA-USA Executive Committee, ordered me to work exclusively with U.S. organizations, and ordered me to terminate my work with the overseas groups who made up a majority of the members of the Campaign to End Genocide.   I therefore resigned from my job with the World Federalist Association, U.S.A. in order to continue the renamed International Campaign to End Genocide.  WFA-USA's actions were a temporary setback for the international movement.  We lost the organizational base that WFA-USA had given us - the office, equipment, personnel system, and salary, however meager, for the people working on the Campaign. There was no office space for interns.  There was no organizational and accounting history to use in fund-raising. But on the other hand, we were freed from the control of an organization whose primary purpose is the promotion of world governance, not the prevention of genocide.  We learned from the experience that the movement must be led by an organization whose sole purpose is genocide prevention.

Genocide Watch continued to coordinate the International Campaign.  Every member of the original international campaign except the World Federalist Association- USA and WFA's affiliate, the Campaign for UN Reform,  remained a member of the International Campaign to End Genocide.  The International Campaign's Steering Committee met in London in October 2000 to plan future directions and outreach to other groups.   The Aegis Trust joined the International Campaign then, and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global Mission also joined, the first religious group to do so. Directors of our member organizations met again in London in January 2002 and again during the meetings of the International Association of Genocide Scholars meetings in Ireland in June 2003.  By then we had twenty member organizations and a Board of Advisors that includes many of the world's most prominent experts on genocide.

Genocide Watch and the International Campaign to End Genocide monitor the world for early warning signs of genocide and other mass killing and declare Genocide Alerts when such signs are found.  We utilize the Eight Stage model I developed at the State Department in 1996 to monitor trends that could lead to genocide or mass killing.  We are eclectic and also rely on the expert knowledge of analysts like Barbara Harff, Ted Gurr, Ben Valentino, and Matthew Krain.  We rely on field reports from people on the ground from the International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and members in the Campaign such as the Minority Rights Group and Survival International.  And we sweep the world press daily using algorithms used by Open Source Solutions, an organization that the State Department hired under David Scheffer to provide him with reports for his Atrocities Task Force.

When we detect signs of precursors of genocide or other threats of mass killing, we mobilize member organizations of the International Campaign as well as other human rights and religious groups to educate key governments and the United Nations about potential or actual genocides or genocidal massacres.  We seek to quickly create the political will among such governments to take action to prevent and stop atrocities.  Most of our interventions have been with people we know in governments, and are conducted without publicity, except that we maintain a website to alert the public to threats of violence.


The International Campaign to End Genocide

The International Campaign to End Genocide is an international coalition dedicated to creating the international institutions and the political will to end genocide. We have four goals:

  1. The provision of public information on the nature of genocide and creation of the political will to prevent and end it.
  1. The creation of an effective early-warning system to alert the world and especially the U.N. Security Council, NATO and other regional alliances to potential ethnic conflict and genocide.
  1. The establishment of a powerful United Nations rapid response force in accordance with Articles 43-47 of the U.N. Charter, as well as regional rapid response forces, and international police ready to be sent to areas where genocide threatens or has begun.
  2. Effective arrest, trial, and punishment of those who commit genocide, including the early and effective functioning of the International Criminal Court, the use of national courts with universal jurisdiction, and the creation of special international tribunals to prosecute perpetrators of genocide.

The Campaign is a de-centralized, global effort of many organizations.  In addition to its work for institutional reform of the United Nations and regional organizations, its aim is to bring pressure upon governments that can act on early warnings of genocide through the U.N. Security Council, NATO, and other means.  The Campaign is gradually establishing an informal, unclassified NGO early warning system on its members' websites and listservs, including ,,,, and other websites.  Bypassing the secrecy of government intelligence services, the Campaign hopes to facilitate establishment of truly confidential communication links that will allow relief and health workers, whistle-blowers, and ordinary citizens to create an alternative open source intelligence network that will warn of ethnic conflict before it turns into genocide.

The International Campaign to End Genocide works to create political will through:

1.   Consciousness raising  -- maintaining close contact with policy makers in key governments, particularly of U.N. Security Council members, providing them with information about genocidal situations.

2.  Coalition formation -- working in coalitions to respond to specific genocidal situations and involving members in campaigns to educate the public about solutions.

3. Policy advocacy  -- preparing options papers for action to prevent genocide in specific situations, and presenting them to policy makers.


Genocide Alerts

The first Genocide Alert declared by Genocide Watch and the International Campaign was in September, 1999, when Indonesian troops and militias began genocidal massacres against the people of East Timor after they had voted for independence in a U.N. sponsored referendum. East Timor was at stage six on the eight stage scale months before the referendum because of "trial massacres" and assassinations characteristic of that stage.  Immediately following the referendum stage seven genocidal massacres began.  Crisis Groups were organized in Washington, D.C. and London to divide up the tasks of education, lobbying, and humanitarian response. In Washington, they included Genocide Watch, Amnesty International, the Asia-Pacific Center for Peace and Justice, Catholic Relief Services, the International Crisis Group, Mennonites, Human Rights Watch, and the East Timor Action Council.  The first meeting in Washington was opened by Nobel Peace Prize winner José Ramos-Horta.

We set five goals: 1. Get an international peacekeeping force into East Timor.  2. Get aid to the refugees and the displaced.  3.  Get a special session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights convened in Geneva. 4. Get a U.N. Commission of Inquiry appointed to investigate the atrocities.  5.  Get a criminal tribunal created to try those who committed crimes against humanity.

Crisis Group members lobbied the U.S. government, I.M.F., World Bank, and the governments of the U.K., France, and Australia, along with members of the U.N. Security Council.  Genocide Watch concentrated on the government of Australia because of personal contacts it had with the Australian Embassy and Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra.  Amnesty International took the lead in lobbying members of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, and succeeded by one vote in getting the special session called, only the fourth in the Commission's history.  The U.S., I.M.F., and World Bank told Indonesian President Habibie that international financial assistance would end if he did not accept a peacekeeping force in East Timor.  The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called General Wiranto and told him to call off his troops or be held accountable.

The President of Genocide Watch drafted an options paper on creation of a criminal tribunal for East Timor that was widely circulated in the U.S. State and Defense Departments and National Security Council, as well as to the governments of the U.K., France, Australia, and U.N. Security Council members.  The day after U.K. International Campaign board members Bernie Hamilton (Leo Kuper Foundation) and Peter Hall (Physicians for Human Rights) presented the paper to the British Foreign Ministry, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook publicly supported creation of an international criminal tribunal for East Timor.

Most of our goals for East Timor were met.  With Indonesian acquiescence, Australia sent in a U.N. authorized peacekeeping force.  Catholic Relief Services took the lead in organizing relief for refugees.  The U.N. Commission on Human Rights appointed a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the atrocities committed in East Timor.  It recommended creation of a tribunal in East Timor, which tried some of those who committed crimes.  (However, Indonesia has used its national courts to exonerate all but a few of those responsible.)  A U.N. peace and reconstruction operation was authorized by the Security Council, and it has made major contributions to rebuilding East Timor.

In February 2000, Genocide Watch issued a Genocide Alert for the Eastern Congo where Hema and Lendu have repeatedly conducted genocidal massacres during a Congolese civil war that has cost at least three million lives. Genocide Watch held meetings for several years with U.S. government officials about the continuing crisis in Eastern Congo.  Genocide Watch also issued Genocide Alerts for Southern Sudan (November, 2000) where a north - south civil war caused the deaths of two million people, and for Darfur (March 2004); Indonesian Borneo (March 2001) where Dayaks engaged in genocidal massacres of Madurese; Taliban Afghanistan (May 2001) where the Taliban issued an edict requiring Hindus to wear yellow patches of cloth and to identify their houses with yellow cloth markers; Zimbabwe (February 2002) where Shona militias engaged in murder of Matabele political opponents in the 1980's and were again torturing and murdering members of the Movement for Democratic Change and denying food aid to those without membership cards in Mugabe's ZANU-PF political party.

Genocide Watch issued another Genocide Alert for Côte d'Ivoire (December 2002) where a civil war divided the north and west from the south, and the foreign laborer population, which comprises a quarter of the total, was vilified and massacred.  ICEG member, Prévention Génocides in Belgium  made a film about the situation in Côte d'Ivoire which it showed both on Ivorian television and at the French Foreign Ministry, and it led the call for intervention and a negotiated peace in that country. It placed an advertisement in Le Monde in December 2002 signed by over 3000 human rights advocates from around the world.   The French were therefore prepared to act quickly when Côte d'Ivoire descended into civil war, and they established a demilitarized zone dividing the north and south.  Genocide Watch and Survivor's Rights International met with State Department officials to support that effort.    The President of Genocide Watch, who had lived for four years in Côte d'Ivoire as a Peace Corps Volunteer and as a Fulbright researcher attached to the University of Abidjan, personally knew both President Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé, one of the most incendiary rabble rousers.  He obtained Goudé's cell phone number through a friend and called him directly to warn him that he could be tried by the International Criminal Court. Goudé toned down and eventually stopped his speeches. After he was appointed UN Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Juan Mendez made a similar call to President Gbagbo to remind him that he could be tried by the ICC, and Ivoirian National Radio immediately stopped broadcasting attacks on "non-Ivoirians."  It was an example of preventive action at its best, not through the use of military force, but through legal deterrence.

Several other situations have warranted ongoing Genocide Watch attention, in particular: Burundi; Macedonia; Nepal; Gujarat, India; Nigeria, Brazil, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and North Korea.  Genocide Watches and background articles are available on the Genocide Watch website   We have prepared briefing papers for use by policy makers in their meetings with key foreign leaders involved in violent conflicts. These Alerts have been circulated by FAX and e-mail to policy makers in the U.S. and Europe and have been posted on our members' websites. In October 2001, Genocide Watch co-sponsored a conference in Harare, Zimbabwe on Genocide Prevention and Peace-Building with the Council of Churches of Southern Africa and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.  The conference was attended by ninety leaders of church denominations from eleven countries in southern Africa as well as representatives of the Islamic and Jewish faiths.  Also in 2001, Genocide Watch went to Stockholm and Macedonia (twice) with interfaith leaders to lobby Albanian Muslim and Macedonian Christian leaders to settle their differences and prevent civil war in Kosovo from spilling over the border.  The U.N.'s small, but effective, Peacekeeping Operation of just 400 troops established a buffer zone between Kosovo and Macedonia that was one of the best examples of U.N. prevention of violent conflict.  When China vetoed continuation of the UN Peacekeeping Operation, NATO took up the operation.

Genocide Watch continued its work with key policy makers on Darfur, Sudan, Côte d'Ivoire, and Chechnya. Genocide Watch regularly attended the meetings of the Chechnya working group at Freedom House and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. As a representative of the State Department, the President of Genocide Watch attended all the monthly meetings of the Burundi Policy Forum, which later became the Great Lakes Policy Forum, established by Search for Common Ground, the Council on Foreign Relations, SAIS, and the Carnegie Endowment. Members of the ICEG were also active in the coalitions concerned with the African Great Lakes region in Washington, D.C. and in Brussels.

Ethiopia had been high on the Genocide Watch list since 1999, due to its senseless war with Eritrea, and repressive mono-ethnic minority domination of its government and military.  In December 2003, Ethiopian Defense Forces and militias massacred 434 Anuak leaders in the provincial capital of Gambella Province, and continued the massacres for weeks afterwards, killing a total of over 1000 people.  The Anuak have the bad luck to live over a rich oilfield and on some of the lushest farmland in Ethiopia.  Chinese, Indian, Saudi and other investors have leased Anuak land from the corrupt Meles regime for very low prices and the regime wants to drive the Anuak off their traditional lands.  Genocide Watch and Survivors' Rights International tried to get inquiries conducted by the major human rights organizations without success, so turned to several churches in Minnesota with numerous Anuak members, and raised the money to conduct two trips and write two reports on the massacres.  The reports uncovered incontrovertible evidence of central government planning of the massacres.

On the day he first learned of the massacres, December 23, 2003, the President of Genocide Watch immediately contacted the desk officer for Ethiopia at the State Department, who in turn alerted the American Ambassador, Aurelia Brazeal.  She sent a political officer and US Marines to Gambella to investigate the deaths of two US citizens of Anuak origin.  Her strong protests to President Meles Zenawi finally brought the massacres to a halt, but not before thousands of Anuak had fled to refugee camps in Sudan.  Human Rights Watch eventually followed up with a report a year later that confirmed the findings of the Genocide Watch/Survivors' Rights International reports. (It is the only report generally mentioned by reporters.)  In 2005, the Meles regime sent Ethiopian troops across the border into Sudan to attack an Anuak refugee camp, but a satellite phone call from the camp to the President of Genocide Watch set in motion a late night call to the Ethiopian desk officer at the State Department, who called the US Ambassador, who went to President Meles and demanded that he withdraw his troops from Sudan.  The attack was thus averted, though the departing Ethiopian troops killed a number of people on their route of retreat.   Since then, Genocide Watch has helped the Anuak form the Anuak Justice Council, which has become a member of the International Campaign, and its leader, Obang Metho has testified before the UN Commission on Human Rights, British and Canadian Parliaments, and other world fora.  He has organized the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, and Genocide Watch has spoken at a number of its meetings and rallies.

The International Crisis Group joined the International Campaign in 2003, as did the Minority Rights Group, and Survival International.  Each of those organizations have strong international field staffs and expertise in early warning and advocacy.  By 2005, the International Campaign to End Genocide (ICEG), had grown to twenty member organizations, with offices in nine countries, and in 2010, the Campaign has over thirty member organizations in eleven countries on five continents. Members of the International Campaign to End Genocide have taken the lead in responding to several genocidal situations.  Survivor's Rights International helped form the Sudan War Crimes Working Group in Washington, DC.  The Aegis Trust has hosted numerous conferences on the Holocaust and genocide, has constructed a remarkable memorial museum in Kigali, Rwanda, and has organized an all-party parliamentary working group on genocide prevention in the British parliament, which became the model for a similar working group in the Canadian parliament.  Aegis has also formed student groups throughout the UK, and each year leads the UK's remembrance of the Holocaust.


The International Association of Genocide Scholars

In 2005 the President of Genocide Watch was elected First Vice President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), and became IAGS President from 2007 - 2009.  IAGS meetings became venues for meetings of the International Campaign's member organization leaders.  Genocide Watch interns maintained the Genocide Watch website and created the IAGS website as an avenue for communication between its members and the general public.  As President of the IAGS, the President of Genocide Watch incorporated the IAGS, instituted proper financial and accounting procedures, and advocated both a scholarly and activist role for the IAGS.  He planned and directed the IAGS biennial conferences in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzogovina in 2007 (attended by 500 people) and George Mason University in 2009.  The IAGS Journal of Genocide Studies and Prevention has become one of the most respected professional journals of genocide scholarship, and its emphasis on prevention sets it apart from the other major Journal of Genocide Research.  The IAGS President worked for rapprochement with the International Network of Genocide Scholars, which will be consummated in the coming year.  The IAGS President gave numerous speeches in the U.S., Europe, and Africa promoting the IAGS and the ICEG and explaining genocide early warning and prevention through understanding the stages of the genocidal process.


The U.N. Secretary General's Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide  

For its first three years a central goal of the ICEG was ratification of the Rome Treaty of the International Criminal Court.  When the ICC Treaty entered into force in July 2002, the ICEG shifted its main focus to creation of a position of Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General for the Prevention of Genocide.  The President of Genocide Watch and the Chairman of the Board of the International Campaign met with U.N. officials in October 2002 to promote the establishment of a permanently staffed Genocide Prevention "Focal Point" (as we first termed it) on the policy planning staff of the U.N. Secretary General.  In a paper presented to the Stockholm International Forum on Preventing Genocide in January 2004, the President of Genocide Watch proposed appointment of a "Special Representative for Genocide Prevention" in the U.N. Department of Political Affairs.  He had shared the paper in advance with the Policy Planning staff and speechwriter for the Secretary General.  Secretary General Kofi Annan responded positively to this idea and announced at the Stockholm Forum, and again at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights commemoration of the Rwandan genocide in April 2004, that he would name a Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide.  In the summer of 2004, he appointed Mr. Juan Mendez to this position.  Mr. Mendez had a distinguished career in the promotion of human rights, and we regarded his appointment as a major step toward improving the United Nations' work in preventing genocide. We advocated turning the position into a full-time appointment when Dr. Francis Deng became the second Special Adviser, and also advocated considerably increasing his staff.

Genocide Watch has also advocated institutional ways to support the work of the Special Adviser, including the establishment of a Genocide Advisory Group of experts on genocide prevention, and a Genocide Prevention Center to provide independent assessments to the Office of the Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide.  The Hungarian government has now taken up this idea, and plans to establish such an international Genocide Prevention Centre in Budapest.


The Interfaith Anti-genocide Alliance

Genocide Watch has concluded that the next major step in mobilizing a global movement against genocide is to enlist the already existing organizational resources of religious organizations, because they have the deepest grass roots and great potential for transcending ethnic and national divisions.  In 2007, Genocide Watch and the National Council of Churches of the USA co-founded the Interfaith Anti-Genocide Alliance, and they intend to work with many organizations and faith groups to harness the tremendous organizational potential of religious groups to actively oppose genocide, rather than causing it.  Genocide Watch has also worked with Martin Luther King III's Realizing the Dream project, especially its post-conflict work in Sri Lanka.  One of the ICEG's member organizations, Plowshares, has focused its work on training leaders in non-violent conflict resolution in Indonesia.

Genocide Watch is also developing contacts with educational publishers and teachers' organizations to promote education for tolerance.  The President chaired a panel at a conference in Berlin in March 2003 devoted to how school texts can be used to promote education about the history of genocide and its prevention.  He also spoke at a conference on genocide education in Strasburg in 2009 sponsored by the Salzburg Seminar and has become a member of the Board of Directors of the Salzburg Seminar's project on genocide education.  He will attend a conference in Salzburg June 27 - July 2, 2010 that will continue this project.  This summer he plans to complete his book, The Eight Stages of Genocide, intended as a short introductory text for secondary schools and introductory courses on genocide that will reveal the common elements in the genocidal process.


 The Cambodian Genocide Project and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

After serving as Field Director for Church World Service and CARE in Cambodia in 1980, I returned to Yale Law School and in 1981, founded the Cambodian Genocide Project, Inc. in order to get the leaders of the Khmer Rouge tried for genocide and crimes against humanity.  The Cambodian Genocide Project was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.

After a judicial clerkship and two years with a corporate law firm, I became a law professor at Washington and Lee University.  In the 1980's Ben Kiernan, David Hawk, and I gathered documentary evidence and testimony of eyewitnesses in Cambodia, including scores of hours of video-taped testimony funded by the U.S. Institute of Peace.  A Memorial was prepared for a state-party to the Genocide Convention to take to the International Court of Justice, claiming violation of the Genocide Convention by Cambodia, which was still represented in the United Nations by the Khmer Rouge regime.

Due to State Department opposition that reached as far as Australia, we were unable to find any takers for the case and realized that the problem was political.  When it came to finding a government to take the case to the World Court, we struck out.  I learned a crucial lesson: human rights are not lost because of the absence of law, but because of the lack of political will to enforce it. We needed to change the political will of crucial nations, notably the United States, which opposed pursuing the case because it might legitimize the Vietnamese-backed government in Phnom Penh.

A group of us set out to change the political will of the U.S. government.  Prof. Ben Kiernan, Dr. Craig Etcheson, Sally Benson and others formed a coalition called the Campaign to Oppose the Return of the Khmer Rouge, and I co-chaired its Justice Committee.   CORKR worked with the staff of Senator Charles Robb to write the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act. Although it was opposed by the State Department because it earmarked funds to establish an Office of Cambodian Genocide Investigations in the State Department and declared that it was U.S. policy to prosecute the leaders of the Khmer Rouge, the bill passed the United States Congress in 1994 and was signed by President Clinton. The Cambodian Genocide Justice Act also earmarked funds for the investigation of the crimes of the Khmer Rouge.  By 1992, I had taken the Foreign Service examination and joined the State Department.  I was assigned to the steering committee for the Office of Cambodian Genocide Investigations.

The State Department held an open competition, and in a decision from which I recused myself, the Office of Cambodian Genocide Investigations steering committee unanimously chose to fund the Cambodian Genocide Program at Yale University, founded by Professor Ben Kiernan.  Over the next two years, it was to receive $1.5 million in State Department funding.  As a result of the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act, the evidence collected by the Cambodian Genocide Program and the Documentation Center it established in Cambodia, along with pressure applied by Ambassadors David Scheffer, Charles Twining, Charles Kartman, me and others within the U.S. State Department, we finally moved U.S., and U.N., policy to support creation of a tribunal to try the Khmer Rouge.   Funds provided by the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act supported establishment of the Yale Cambodian Genocide Program and the Documentation Center of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, which produced hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence of the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge in Democratic Kampuchea.

In July 1997 as a Foreign Service Officer in the State Department,  I wrote the State Department options paper and proposals that led to U.S. pressure on the United Nations to assist Cambodia in trying the Khmer Rouge.  In 1997, at the suggestions of Thomas Hammarberg and David Hawk, the co-Prime Ministers of Cambodia requested assistance from the U.N. in establishing a tribunal.  The U.N. appointed a Commission of Experts, which in 1999 recommended establishment of an international tribunal outside Cambodia, a conclusion unacceptable to Cambodia.

The United Nations and the Royal Cambodian Government (RCG) entered into negotiations to set up a tribunal.   The U.N. withdrew from negotiations in February 2002 citing concerns about the impartiality of the Extraordinary Chamber proposed by the Cambodian National Assembly. The Cambodian Genocide Project offered to assist in breaking the legal logjam, and with funding from the Open Society Institute provided the legal advice to the Cambodian government that led to the breakthrough March 17, 2003, when the Cambodian government and U.N. Office of Legal Affairs signed an agreement to set up the tribunal.  The agreement was approved by the U.N. General Assembly in 2003, and by the National Assembly of Cambodia in 2004.  As soon as pledges of funding were raised for the tribunal, estimated at $57 million over three years, the UN and Cambodian governments appointed judges and staff and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia came into being.

The Cambodian Genocide Project worked with other organizations in the U.S. and Cambodia to assist the Cambodian government in doing the planning necessary to get the tribunal up and running.  The Cambodian Genocide Project, in particular, assisted the Secretariat of the Cambodian government's Task Force in preparing draft rules of procedure and evidence for the tribunal.  We benefited from the expertise and advice of some of the finest international lawyers in the world in doing this work.

Most recently The Cambodian Genocide Project has helped support clerks for the tribunal's judges through generous grants from the Planethood Foundation, founded by Ben Ferencz, the Nuremburg Prosecutor of the Einsatzgrupen, and his son, Don Ferencz of London.  In November and December 2009, I conducted an inquiry for the tribunal's Victim's Section into how victim testimony could be preserved and used in healing of the trauma caused by the genocide.


Lessons Learned

My experiences with Genocide Watch, the Cambodian Genocide Project, and the International Association of Genocide Scholars have taught me a number of lessons:

1. As Rudy Rummel has pointed out, the key to addressing the problem of genocide is confronting power.  Forces with the power to commit genocide must be overcome by forces with the power to prevent it.  Engaging those forces means mobilizing the world's democracies to take action.  There are ways to do that, such as getting legislation passed to overrule a recalcitrant State Department bureaucracy.  But they take a lot of work by committed people.  It is often better to work quietly with people on the inside of powerful institutions, leveraging their decisions to take action for prevention.

2. In the U.N., democratic states can lead the Security Council to take Chapter VII action in some situations when genocidal dictators like Saddam Hussein have committed aggression.  When the U.N. Security Council is paralyzed, as it often is, and was regarding the Cambodian Tribunal, democratic states can lead the General Assembly to take action. When that cannot be done, democratic states must still take action to fulfill their obligations to prevent genocide, acting under the customary international law of humanitarian intervention and its fuller modern version, the emerging norm called the Responsibility to Protect.

3. Organizing a human rights group or movement is full-time work.  It cannot be done part-time or without significant funding. That is why the Campaign to Oppose the Return of the Khmer Rouge hired Craig Etcheson, who was largely responsible for the passage of the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act.  It is why the Cambodian Genocide Program needed a full time Director, Susan Cook.  Coordination of an international campaign need not be a full-time job if its member organizations do the work of the coalition. But the International Campaign to End Genocide could have been more effective if it had hired full time help.  The next phase in the anti-genocide movement, a new Anti-Genocide Alliance will almost certainly require full-time personnel, especially to enable international organization in countries at risk.

Effective human rights work costs money, lots of money.  A few human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Crisis Group, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Fund for Peace, and the Open Society Institute have the biggest foundation funders and professional fundraising operations.  Representatives of the major foundations even sit on the Boards of Directors of the human rights organizations they fund, or maintain intimate connections with the organizations.  Some would say these are interlocking directorates; others that it's just good grantsmanship.  But it means to get money, you have to have money to pay professionals to get it.   It is an exclusionary game, in which the organizations that have funding shut out organizations that have none, and also keep them out of decision-making. It is not a good way to fund a true international coalition.  Government money can be gotten through national legislation.  That is how the US Institute of Peace is funded, as well as efforts in Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland. But the bureaucracy will fight earmarks, as the State Department did vociferously against passage of the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act.  And changes in government can end prevention programs.

From the beginning, neither Genocide Watch nor the Cambodian Genocide Project have sought foundation grants or attempted to increase our budget.  The initial gift of $25,000 for our work made by Charles Pillsbury and Jean Sanderson has supported everything we have done.  The work has been self-sustaining, with every project financed as it has proceeded, and every honorarium for speaking plowed into the organization budget.  Scores of student interns have contributed their time and brilliance to doing the work of the organization, and designing and maintaining the website.  No one has ever received a salary for their work, though I insist on paying interns for their time or giving them academic credit because I do not believe in intern exploitation.

4. Institutionalization is vital to long-term genocide prevention.  That is why the International Campaign to End Genocide has made its priorities creation of the International Criminal Court; support for the ICTY, ICTR, Sierra Leone, East Timor, and Cambodian Tribunals; creation of the position and office of the UN Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide; support for creation of an international Genocide Prevention Centre; strengthening of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, and creation of an Interfaith Antigenocide Alliance.

Finally, the most effective genocide prevention is done long before the rifts in a society reach the stage of violent conflict.  That is why strengthening of local and national institutions in countries at risk should now become our top priority.


The Importance of Our Movement

I believe the International Campaign to End Genocide in the twenty-first century will someday be seen in the same way we see the anti-slavery movement of the nineteenth century.  It is time in human history to end genocide, the worst of all crimes against humanity.  There were those in the nineteenth century who said that slavery couldn't be ended because the economic forces that supported it were too great, that it was human nature, or even worse, that it was ordained by religion.  There will be similar defeatism about the movement to abolish genocide.  There has always been genocide, so it must be part of human nature.  The world political order is not yet developed enough to prevent and stop it.  Or, worst of all, genocide is ordained by jihad or ethnic purity or religion.

But those who say we cannot end this curse upon mankind are no more right than those who said slavery could not be defeated.  It is a matter of human will.  And we make that human will.  As Archbishop Tutu is fond of saying, "God is a God of justice.  But to do justice, God depends on us."

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