WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) joined U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) in introducing the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2016. Co-sponsored by 11 other Senators, this bipartisan legislation ensures that the U.S. government works in a coordinated manner using its full range of tools, including diplomatic, political, financial, and intelligence capabilities, to provide early warnings about at-risk communities and states in order to help prevent mass atrocities against civilians. 

“Too often we ignore simmering conflicts until they erupt into unspeakable violence and atrocities,” said Murphy. “In the recent past we’ve witnessed this tragedy play out in Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur. Persistent conflict, lawlessness, and displaced populations create conditions for targeted violence and extremism to thrive. Preventing these crises is a moral imperative, and it will protect our national security and the stability of our allies. I support this bipartisan legislation because it will expand the tools we have to identify warning signs, diffuse tensions, and work broadly with local and international partners to address root causes of violence.”

Blumenthal said, “As the son of an immigrant who fled German persecution in 1935, I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act to better equip our government to address early signs of possible mass atrocities. Responding after-the-fact has intolerable and increasing costs in both lives and dollars – as we have witnessed through ISIL’s brutality against ethnic minorities, including Yazidis. As the world’s human rights champion, the U.S. can and must do more to mitigate mass atrocities and genocide in the future, and I believe this legislation will help us reach this goal.”

The Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act strengthens atrocity prevention efforts by:

  • Authorizing the establishment of a transparent, accountable, high-level Atrocity Prevention Board to advance an interagency effort to prevent mass atrocities and ensure a coordinated and effective response to emerging and ongoing atrocities;
  • Authorizing the Complex Crises Fund, overseen by the Administrator of USAID, to support emergency efforts to prevent or respond to emerging or unforeseen foreign complex crises overseas, including potential mass atrocities and conflict;

  • Mandates training for Department of State and USAID Foreign Service Officers at high risk posts to recognize patterns of escalation and early warning signs of potential atrocities or violence and
  • Encourages the Director of National Intelligence to include in his/her annual testimony to Congress on threats to US national security a review of countries or regions at risk of mass atrocities or genocide 

Full text of the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act can be found here.

This Resolution is actively supported by 26 atrocity prevention and human rights groups. The list can be found here

U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Murphy and Blumenthal in cosponsoring the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2016.