Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Building state capacity to prevent atrocity crimes

Professor David Simon is interviewed at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale about building state capacity to prevent atrocity crimes. He reflects upon Rwanda now 20 years after that country's Genocide of the Tutsis and how the international community can best respond to such atrocities. Unsaid are the lessons learned from the war crimes of WWII.

The interview reflects his 2012 Policy Analysis Brief for the Stanley Foundation, Building State Capacity to Prevent Atrocity Crimes: Implementing Pillars One and Two of the R2P Framework. Simon focuses on the first and second pillars of the doctrine, namely the aspects of state and local capacity building—assisted where appropriate through international cooperation—that offer the best hope of realizing R2P principles before the prospect of adversarial intervention arises. 

Working from a simplified model of how mass-atrocity threats unfold, the brief seeks to enumerate the types of interventions best suited to derail that process. It begins with state-level capacity building, consistent with the standard formulation of the first pillar of the R2P framework. 

Because state authorities and individual elites are often complicit in mass atrocity crimes, however, a robust capacity-building effort should also reinforce the capacity of a broader cross section of stakeholders, including nonstate actors, to strengthen social and institutional resilience in the face of mass atrocity threats.

He argues that international cooperation should support such in-country efforts, while noting some of the complications that are likely to arise in doing so. He suggests that domestic efforts and international assistance should be supplemented with ongoing internal reviews, peer evaluations, and monitoring.

David Simon is a Lecturer, Political Science and Ethics, Politics & Economics; Director of Graduate Studies African Studies at Yale University. He studies African politics, focusing on the politics of development assistance and post-conflict situations, particularly in Rwanda. He is editor of the Historical Dictionary of Zambia, and has contributed to Comparative Political Studies, The Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, and The Journal of Genocide Research. He also teaches classes on international relations in Africa and the comparative politics of development.

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