AU hosts AUC and ATF joint workshop on the prevention of mass atrocities


June 17, 2016

 The Department of Political Affairs (DPA) of the African Union Commission (AUC) in close collaboration with the African Task Force, (Budapest Centre-For the International Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities) organized a workshop on 9th June 2016 at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the theme “African Task Force on the Prevention of Mass Atrocities”.

The workshop which was aimed at discussing the results of a research report, “State of the Art” prepared by senior researchers of the African Task Force (ATF) relating to the African Union and to consult on the conclusions in order to arrive at correct assessment and feasible recommendations, was attended by representatives from the DPA led by Ambassador Salah S. Hammad, representatives from the Peace and Security department, senior researchers and other departments in the AUC.

Representing the AU Department of Political Affairs  Human Rights Expert, Ambassador Salah Siddig Hammad, in his opening remarks was welcomed the participants during the workshop on behalf of the Commissioner for Political Affairs of the AUC, HE. Dr. Aisha L. Abdullahi and the entire AU Commission, . He underscored the importance of the workshop which will raise the issues on conflict management as well as solutions for a better prevention of conflict and mass atrocities in Africa. Ambassador Salah highlighted that as much as African try to prevent atrocities, they cannot escape from them when this occurs. He therefore underscored the need for joint efforts at continental, regional, national and individual levels for an effective prevention of mass atrocities around the continent and the globe. Amb. Salah also outlined some challenges faced by the Commission which include capacity and resource constraints.

Also speaking during the workshop was the Chair of the Budapest Centre for the International Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, Dr.Gyorgy Tatar who expressed gratitude to the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, H.E Dr. Abdullahi and to Amb. Salah for convening the workshop. He stressed on the need for an improved capacity at international, regional and national levels as well as making feasible recommendations to practitioners with more focus on extremism and de-radicalization by mobilizing international actors to provide more assistance and help.

In his presentation, the Research Coordinator at ATF, Prof. Mark Whitlock stated that in order to prevent conflict, it is necessary to introduce mass atrocity prevention tools.

He explained that even when prevention of conflicts have failed, it would not be too late to prevent mass atrocities. He cited some indicators of conflicts such as changes in political institutions, national elections, increase in the arm force and political assassinations.

Dr. Ibrahim Wani, senior researcher at ATF during his presentation stated that the primary goal of the project is to establish the extent to which AU addresses mass atrocities. He said that norms, policies and institutional framework have a great role in the prevention of mass atrocities. Dr. Ibrahim lauded AU’s institutional framework and made mention of the fact that six (6) out of fourteen (14) principles outlined in the AU’s Constitutive Act embody human rights related issues which to him is a clear indicator that there is political will, institutional policies and framework. He noted that focus on conflict prevention alone is not sufficient to tackle issues arising from mass atrocities. He emphasized on the use of continental early warning systems (CEWs) of conflicts and mass atrocities, saying this will be a better mechanism for preventing the atrocities.

The ATF was established by the Budapest Centre for the international prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. The ATF maps the State of Art of prevention capacities in Africa by exploring opportunities and challenges faced by the AU and some of its regional communities (AU, ECOWAS, IGAD, SADC and ICGLR) and to examine regional efforts in preventing political instability ad translating general commitment to preventing mass atrocities into practice.

This initiative provides opportunities to exchange views on experiences, challenges and identify context-specific needs while elaborating feasible policy recommendations to be included in the final report of the ATF that will be released in July 2016.

The workshop ended with discussions moderated by the Director of Research and Cooperation of the Budapest Centre, Professor Enzo Le Fevre.