WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2017, named after the late Holocaust survivor, is being considered in Congress. The bill would help the U.S. become better at identifying and responding to emerging genocides and humanitarian crises.
Elie Wiesel is most known for his publication of Night, a chilling recounting of the horrific atrocities committed by the Nazi paramilitary SS during Wiesel’s internment at Auschwitz and Buchenwald.
Designated S.1158 and HR. 3030, The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act enjoys wide bipartisan support. Since its introduction on May 17 and June 22, respectively, the bill has been co sponsored by 26 Senators and 35 Representatives.
If adopted, the bill would direct the President to create a Mass Atrocities Task Force within the State Department to better coordinate with other government agencies to address burgeoning global crises.
Abroad, the bill would provide training for foreign service officers to help them better identify patterns of violent escalations, especially gender-based violence, the warning signs of potential atrocities and how to de-escalate and mediate between parties.
Nipping repeated escalations in the bud is not only a U.S. moral obligation under responsibility to protect — a commitment endorsed by U.N. members in 2005 — but it would also be beneficial for national security reasons. By preventing crises abroad and promoting regional stability, the U.S. could avoid getting involved militarily overseas.
Lastly, the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act would establish a complex crisis fund. The fund would provide the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) ready funds to respond to early signs of conflict and atrocity abroad. The funds alternatively could be used to advance the consolidation of democracy.
The crisis fund would streamline the U.S. government’s response process. Instead of needing to request funds to intervene in potential atrocities abroad, the State Department and USAID would just need to access the fund for liquidity.
The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act is very much like the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2016, which was read twice last session before being sent to committee. No new actions have been taken on the 2017 versions since late June.
– Thomas James Anania