04/24/2019
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WASHINGTON, D.C.  Bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) to bolster U.S. government efforts to prevent genocide and other human rights atrocities around the world was signed into law. The legislation, named in honor of the courageous, inspiring Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, strengthens the U.S. government’s capability to prevent, mitigate, and respond to genocide and other mass atrocities wherever they may occur.

The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (S. 1158) establishes a Mass Atrocities Task Force within the State Department to adequately monitor, analyze and address atrocities worldwide by coordinating multiple agencies across the U.S. government; identifying gaps in U.S. policy; and consulting with NGOs and other groups dedicated to atrocity prevention. The bill also recommends that the Director of National Intelligence include atrocity crime information in the Director’s annual report to Congress on U.S. national security threats, and authorizes training for U.S. Foreign Service Officers in recognizing and reporting on early signs of atrocities and transitional justice measures.

“The United States is a leader in preventing genocide and other human rights violations around the world, and we must reaffirm our commitment to those efforts now more than ever,” said Senator Tillis. “I am proud to be a part of this bipartisan legislation that will strengthen our government’s effectiveness in combatting these atrocities, and I will continue to work with my colleagues across the aisle in the new Congress on this important issue.”

The full bill text is at this link. The legislation:

  • Affirms the importance of strengthening U.S. efforts around mass atrocities through interagency tools like the Atrocities Prevention Board (APB);
  • States that preventing genocide and mass atrocities are core U.S. national security interests and calls on the Administration to pursue a government-wide strategy to: strengthen U.S. diplomatic, risk analysis/monitoring, early warning, and response capacities around atrocity crimes; improve the use of U.S. foreign assistance to address the root causes of violent conflict; strengthen support to transitional justice mechanisms and local civil society groups in countries at risk of or experiencing mass atrocities; prioritize preventative diplomacy through unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral mechanisms;
  • Requires specialized training for Foreign Service Officers who will be deployed to a country experiencing or at risk of mass atrocities; and
  • Mandates annual reporting to Congress of the Administration’s efforts to prevent and respond to mass atrocities and an assessment of countries and regions at risk of such violence.
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