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genocide as an international crime. Despite this achievement, however, attention to the problem of genocide was interrupted by the Cold War, but resurfaced in the early-1990s when atrocities in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina shocked the world. The lack of a prompt and effective inter- national response sparked deep criticism of the international community.


In response to these and other outbreaks of mass atrocities, NGOs, academics, nation-states and the United Nations developed the concept of the “responsibility to protect,” which stands as a cor- relative obligation to a sovereign’s power to gov- ern. The responsibility to protect rests on three pillars: (1) a state’s responsibility to protect its population from mass atrocities; (2) the interna- tional community’s responsibility to assist states in fulfilling that responsibility; and (3) the inter- national community’s responsibility to use diplo- matic and humanitarian means including interven- tion where necessary to protect populations from mass atrocity crimes.

AIPR’s work focuses on the first and second pil- lars of this framework. Building on Lemkin’s rec- ognition that genocide unfolds as an extended so- cial process culminating in atrocity – as opposed to a sudden and random manifestation of mass violence – AIPR has developed manuals and pro- grams designed to move genocide prevention from crisis management to crisis avoidance. Spe- cifically, AIPR focuses on training government and military personnel to recognize and gauge the so- cial process that can lead to genocide and to iden- tify ways to interrupt or disrupt that process. AIPR defines prevention as the sum of actions taken to ensure that all communities participate in society and are not victimized. Key elements of preven- tion within this framework are good governance, sustainable development, and the rule of law, with a focus on group dynamics to prevent marginaliza- tion. Thus, AIPR seeks to expand the role of real prevention and thereby reduce instances where crisis management becomes the only option.

With the support of the UN Office of the Spe- cial Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Pre- vention of Genocide, AIPR has worked to move beyond the top-down approaches which have characterized the field of genocide prevention, es- pecially humanitarian or military intervention after atrocities have occurred. AIPR embraces the guid- ing principles of localization and individual empow- erment. Its activities cover training, research, and support for local and regional officials in promot- ing a culture of genocide prevention within civil society throughout the world.

The centerpiece of AIPR’s work is the Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention. The Lemkin Seminar consists of a week-long cur- riculum taught in and around the Polish town of Oswiecim, where from 1940-1944, approximately 1.4 million perished in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps. The seminar is taught in partner- ship with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the UN Office on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect. AIPR credits the “power of the place” as one of the most impor- tant aspects of the Lemkin Seminar. Experienc- ing the tangible evidence of genocide firsthand at this infamous site helps participants form an emotional commitment to pursuing the difficult work of genocide prevention. Since its inception in 2008, the seminar has attracted participants from over 60 nations. This diversity of attendees is a hallmark of the Lemkin Seminar series, creating opportunities to form global yet deeply personal opportunity networks of policymakers trained in genocide prevention.

In refining the Lemkin Seminar curriculum over time, AIPR has increasingly focused on practical issues. After establishing a baseline understand- ing of genocide in history, the Lemkin Seminars trace the stages of genocide and the policy op- tions a public official would have at each stage. The goals are to help officials (1) better recog- nize certain “red flags” that often point to an increased risk of mass atrocity or genocide, and

ILSA Quarterly » volume 22 » issue 4 » May 2014

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