Bigger US role battling genocide?
A task force's findings, urging US leadership, may dovetail with ideas of Obama administration.
(Page 2 of 2)
"There is a broad range of options between standing aside and ordering in the Marines," Albright said.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Among the specific recommendations of the task force is a new interagency effort – drawing on the experience of the military in past interventions and of the State Department in nation-building and stabilization – to sniff out potential trouble spots. The task force calls for creation of a $250 million fund to be used in prevention work.
The report, timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary Tuesday of the international Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, calls military intervention an option of "last resort."
While the task-force co-chairs say they expect keen interest from the incoming administration, it is not clear how the report's conclusions align with the more forceful views of Obama appointees like Rice.
She became a harsh critic of the Bush administration's deliberative diplomatic approach to the Sudanese government and the mass killings in its Darfur region. Favoring "dramatic action," she went to Capitol Hill last year to press for either a naval blockade of Sudan or even a US bombing campaign.
Obama says he intends to raise the UN ambassador's post to the cabinet rank it held in the Clinton administration.
That step, along with Rice's appointment, are convincing foreign-policy experts that the issue of genocide prevention will figure prominently for the new administration. "Rice has been a forceful advocate in the past, so I would expect she'll take the opportunity to show leadership on this, as will the president-elect," says Richard Solomon, president of the US Institute of Peace in Washington.
But a key part of getting genocide prevention beyond a worthy goal, Ambassador Solomon says, will be stepped-up international diplomacy and more capacity for multilateral organizations like the UN to stop mass atrocities before they occur.
In naming Rice earlier this month, Obama said she shares his view that the world today "demands global institutions that work." He called the UN an "imperfect" but "indispensable" body and said Rice would be charged with both representing US interests and working to make the UN a more effective and responsive organization.
Solomon says it's hard to argue with human rights advocates who underscore how, a decade after Rwanda and mass atrocities in the Balkans, the world remains subject to genocide as in Darfur. But as an example of global progress, he points to the UN General Assembly's passage in 2005 of a "responsibility to protect" doctrine aimed at governments that fail in the duty of protecting their own citizens.
"That [2005 passage] was an extremely important conceptual breakthrough," he says, even though the doctrine continues to "run up against" the national-sovereignty objections of governments coming under the international microscope because of human rights violations.
It will take time before a concept like "the responsibility to protect" becomes the international norm, he adds, but in the meantime, such policy advances will assist US diplomats and others in broad goals like genocide prevention.