We believe the United Kingdom can and should be a leader in its contribution to the prevention of mass atrocities. While not always described as such, the UK already makes substantial contributions to the prevention of identity-based violence and atrocities. At the same time, some of its actions contribute to making the risks of atrocities more likely. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a founding member of NATO, and a leading aid donor, the UK Government plays a critical role in steering global prevention and protection efforts. Likewise, the UK has significant national capacity to integrate these commitments throughout its trade, development, defence, foreign, and domestic policies.
In 2015, we launched our atrocity prevention programme tasked with enhancing UK contributions to predicting, preventing, and responding to mass atrocities. Our team work with the UK's government, parliament, and civil society to improve understanding and strengthen implementation of timely, effective atrocity prevention. We work across the political spectrum and across sectors in the UK to encourage the integration of ‘prevention thinking’ to decision making and to secure a national strategy atrocity prevention.
We work to elevate the atrocity prevention agenda to a more prominent position in the UK, not as a means of replicating or replacing existing efforts within the broader human rights movement, but to join-up and reinforce those efforts which are too often seen as being unrelated. We know that the prevention of genocide and crimes against humanity requires something different from or additional to more traditional interpretations of conflict prevention, peace building, and other important overlapping agendas.
But we could never, nor wished to, do this alone. In 2017 we established the UK Civil Society Atrocity Prevention Working Group, a network of some 25 UK-based civil society organisations and experts working in different ways to help prevent identity-based violence and mass atrocities. We work with partners across Europe and around the world to encourage a bolder, more inclusive vision for the prevention of identity-based violence and atrocities. This vision includes striving to identify and deconstruct the assumptions, biases and inequalities of our own sector, which continue to hold back change and reinforce the very conditions our work seeks to push back and ultimately overcome.
"Mass atrocities" is a non-legal catch-all term for ethnic cleansing, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Atrocity crimes can occur in peacetime or during conflict.
Mass atrocities pose one of the biggest threats to human security and global stability; and the incidence of mass atrocities is rising. In addition to their appalling human costs, mass atrocities generate cross-border refugee flows, increase the risk of terrorism, carry economic consequences beyond those of 'regular' civil wars, and perpetuate global instability. Yet these crimes can often be prevented and their root causes interrupted.
Protection Approaches works to encourage a bolder vision in Europe for the prevention of identity-based violence.
Europe – from London to Ljubljana to Lviv – can and should be a global leader in protecting populations from the threats of identity-based violence; whether hate crime, violent extremism or mass atrocities. This responsibility to prevent and to protect is as much the case within and at its own borders, as in its contributions abroad. European civil society should likewise be leading by example, applying scrutiny to national and regional policy making, and championing a bolder approach to prevention.
But Europe, like much of the world, is facing a prevention crisis. The rise in nationalist and exclusionary politics across the continent is increasing discrimination, marginalisation, and persecution, and threatening the fabric of Europe’s societies. The crisis is both a symptom and a driver of what is a preventable global phenomenon of rising identity-based violence; its apparent resurgence risks undermining the hard-fought gains of recent decades.
Despite Europe’s long history of mass atrocities and genocide, few people believe the region requires what is often described as ‘atrocity prevention’. At the same time, it is commonly accepted that the region is experiencing a surge of online and offline hate speech. Hate speech, divisive propaganda, and conspiracy are symptoms of wider problems as well as propellants of violence in their own right. The innate connection between hate speech and extremism and genocide is one from which no region is, and ever will be, immune.
We deliver bespoke training on the prediction and prevention of identity-based violence and mass atrocities.
This training can include anything from urgent briefings on situations of impending or ongoing mass atrocities, to structural training on how organisations or governments can implement prevention strategies of monitoring, analysis, communication, and response. We debunk myths around what atrocity prevention is and deliver tailored programmes that are designed according to the needs of our partners.
Around the world we have delivered workshops and trainings for governments, national mechanisms, political parties, parliamentary committees, government departments, civil servants, civil society organisations, and journalists.
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