The International Campaign to End Genocide: A Review of Its First Five Years
By Dr. Gregory H. Stanton President, Genocide Watch
Genocides, politicides and other mass murders killed more people in the twentieth century than all the wars combined. "Never again" turned into "Again and again." Again and again, the response to genocide and other forms of mass murder was too little and too late.
Yet there has so far been no international movement on the order of an Amnesty International dedicated to ending genocide in the twenty-first century. Today, I will describe efforts to create such a movement, and will make some proposals about where we should go from here.
The Cambodian Genocide Project
Let me begin by describing how I got into this anti-genocide movement in the first place. During my first year at Yale Law School, Church World Service called me to become Field Director of its relief program in Cambodia. My roommate from Oberlin College was then the organization’s program director in New York and he knew that I had been a Peace Corps Volunteer and had just spent a year in India. I landed in Phnom Penh in June 1980. As I walked through the mass graves and talked with the survivors, I realized that the Khmer Rouge had violated every international humanitarian law on the books, including the Genocide Convention. I had studied with Professors Myres McDougal and Michael Reisman in law school, and knew that law wasn’t law without authoritative decision, plus compliance or enforcement. But the Khmer Rouge had gotten away with murder. There was no political will to capture them in Thailand, and no international court to try them.
Such impunity would only allow the Khmer Rouge to plague Cambodia for years to come. But there was a narrow opening for civil justice, the International Court of Justice. The Khmer Rouge no longer controlled Cambodia because of Vietnam’s intervention, so evidence could be gathered against them. If a case were taken against Cambodia to the World Court for violation of the Genocide Convention, the Khmer Rouge would have to respond, because they still held Cambodia’s seat in the United Nations. When I came back to Yale Law School in 1981, I founded the Cambodian Genocide Project, Inc. in order to gather the evidence to make that case possible. The Cambodian Genocide Project was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization in 1982 and granted I.R.S. tax exempt status on October 22, 1984. I thus began my career in public international law while still a student. And I found my calling: the prevention and punishment of genocide.
When I finished law school, my career objective was to teach international human rights law. After a judicial clerkship and two years with a corporate law firm, I became a law professor at Washington and Lee University. Law teaching is a good platform for working on international human rights law because it offers both financial security and freedom. However, demands of teaching and publishing and the location of most schools away from policy-making centers greatly limit the academician’s ability to create institutions or shape policy.
In the 1980’s I gathered documentary evidence and testimony of eyewitnesses in Cambodia, including scores of hours of video-taped testimony funded by the U.S. Institute of Peace. A Memorial was prepared for a state-party to the Genocide Convention to take to the International Court of Justice, claiming violation of the Convention by Cambodia, which was still represented in the United Nations by the Khmer Rouge regime. Partly due to State Department opposition that reached as far as Australia, we were unable to find any takers for the case and realized that the problem was (and remains) political. When it came to finding a government to take the case to the World Court, those of us working on the case struck out. I learned a crucial lesson: human rights are not lost because of the absence of law, but because of the lack of political will to enforce it. We needed to change the political will of crucial nations, notably the United States, which opposed pursuing the case because it might legitimize the Vietnamese-backed government in Phnom Penh.
A group of us set out to change the political will of the U.S. government. Prof. Ben Kiernan, Dr. Craig Etcheson, Sally Benson and many others formed a coalition called the Campaign to Oppose the Return of the Khmer Rouge, and I co-chaired its Justice Committee.
CORKR worked with the staff of Senator Charles Robb to write the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act. Although it was opposed by the State Department because it earmarked funds to establish an Office of Cambodian Genocide Investigations in the State Department and declared that it was U.S. policy to prosecute the leaders of the Khmer Rouge, the bill passed the United States Congress in 1994 and was signed by President Clinton. The Cambodian Genocide Justice Act also earmarked funds for the investigation of the crimes of the Khmer Rouge. By 1992, I had taken the Foreign Service examination and joined the State Department. I was assigned to the steering committee for the Office of Cambodian Genocide Investigations.
The State Department held an open competition, and in a decision from which I recused myself, the Office of Cambodian Genocide Investigations steering committee unanimously chose to fund the Cambodian Genocide Program at Yale University, founded by Professor Ben Kiernan. Over the next two years, it was to receive $1.5 million in State Department funding. As a result of the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act, the evidence collected by the Cambodian Genocide Program and the Documentation Center it established in Cambodia, along with pressure applied by me and others within the U.S. State Department, we finally moved U.S., and U.N., policy to support creation of a tribunal to try the Khmer Rouge. Funds provided by that Act supported establishment of the Yale Cambodian Genocide Program and the Documentation Center of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, which have since produced hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence of the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge in Democratic Kampuchea.
In July 1997 as a Foreign Service Officer in the State Department, I wrote the State Department options paper and proposals that led to U.S. pressure on the United Nations to assist Cambodia in trying the Khmer Rouge. In 1997, the co-Prime Ministers of Cambodia requested assistance from the U.N. in establishing a tribunal. The U.N. appointed a Commission of Experts which in 1999 recommended establishment of an international tribunal.
Since then the United Nations and the Royal Cambodian Government (RCG) have come a long way toward establishment of a tribunal to try the leaders of the Khmer Rouge. The U.N. withdrew from negotiations in February 2002 citing concerns about the impartiality of the Extraordinary Chamber proposed by the Cambodian National Assembly. The Cambodian Genocide Project offered to assist in breaking the legal logjam, and with funding from the Open Society Institute provided the legal advice to the Cambodian government that led to the breakthrough March 17, 2003, when the Cambodian government and U.N. Office of Legal Affairs signed an agreement to set up the tribunal. The agreement was approved by the U.N. General Assembly in 2003, and by the National Assembly of Cambodia in 2004. As soon as funding is raised for the tribunal, which is estimated at $57 million over three years, it will be convened.
The Cambodian Genocide Project is currently working with other organizations in the U.S. and Cambodia to assist the Cambodian government in doing the planning and making the practical arrangements necessary to get the tribunal up and running. The Cambodian Genocide Project has, in particular, been assisting the Secretariat of the Cambodian government’s Task Force in preparing draft rules of procedure and evidence that will provide for the highest standards for the tribunal. We have benefited from the expertise and advice of some of the finest international lawyers in the world in doing this work.
My experience with the effort to bring justice to Cambodia taught me a number of lessons:
1. As Rudy Rummel consistently points out, the key to addressing the problem of genocide is confronting power. Forces with the power to commit genocide must be overcome by forces with the power to prevent it. Engaging those forces means mobilizing the world’s democracies to take action. There are ways to do that, such as getting legislation passed to overrule a recalcitrant State Department bureaucracy. But they take a lot of work by committed people. [In the U.N., democratic states can lead the Security Council to take Chapter VII action in some situations where genocidal dictators like Saddam Hussein have committed aggression. When the U.N. Security Council is paralyzed by the veto, democratic states should lead the General Assembly to take action under the Uniting for Peace Resolution. When that cannot be done, democratic states must still take action to fulfill their obligations to prevent genocide, acting under the customary international law of humanitarian intervention.]
2. Organizing a human rights group or movement is full-time work. It cannot be done part-time. That is why the Campaign to Oppose the Return of the Khmer Rouge hired Craig Etcheson, who was largely responsible for the passage of the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act. It is why the Cambodian Genocide Program needed a full time Director, Susan Cook.
3. Effective human rights work costs money, lots of money. The major human rights groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have the big foundation funders like Ford and MacArthur locked up with interlocking directorates. Representative of some major human rights organizations sit on the human rights advisory committees of the foundations that fund them, or at the very least maintain intimate connections with the foundations. Some would say that’s just grantsmanship. But it means to get money, you have to have money to pay professionals to get it. Government money can be gotten through legislation. But the bureaucracy will fight earmarks, as the State Department did vociferously for the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act.
In 1985, Leo Kuper and Martin Ennals founded International Alert Against Genocide and Massacres. They hoped to start a movement against genocide, but Leo soon became frustrated when International Alert lost its focus on genocide. IA has done very good work on conflict resolution and early warning, although it has never declared an “international alert.” In the late ‘80’s, Leo Kuper and I went to New York together to meet with the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch to propose the formation of a new organization to be called Genocide Watch, to begin as a project of Human Rights Watch. We hoped it would be sponsored by an already existing human rights organization with a solid financial base, so that it would not have to go through all the start-up time and costs of founding a new, free-standing organization. Unfortunately, the Executive Director did not have time to meet with us, so we had coffee with an intern – a very bright intern who later worked in the Legal Advisers office at the State Department, but who did not convince his Executive Director to adopt the project.
I never gave up on the idea. In June of 1998, I wrote a proposal for a 501(c)(3) to be incorporated as Genocide Watch. Its purpose would be to lead an international campaign to end genocide made up of a coalition of human rights, religious, legal, and civil society NGO’s from around the world. I took the proposal around to a number of organizations in Washington, D.C. For various reasons, only one would take on the project. The International Crisis Group, the group I thought could best lead the movement, was going through financial and leadership crises of its own. Human Rights Watch already had too many other special projects. It didn’t fit within Amnesty International’s structure. Genocide Watch, Inc. was incorporated in 1998 in order to organize and coordinate an international coalition against genocide.
In January 1999 I made a statement at a meeting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum and Tim Barner, the Executive Director of the World Federalist Association (USA), approached me afterwards. Tim, Adam Ortiz, and I had lunch and they thought the proposed campaign would serve to advance the World Federalist Association’s pro-UN agenda. I left my job at the U.S. Department of State. WFA-USA hired me to coordinate the Washington Working Group on the International Criminal Court and to found the Campaign to End Genocide.
At the Hague Appeal for Peace in May, 1999, a coalition of ten organizations from the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Israel co-founded a new coalition called the Campaign to End Genocide. The coalition included Genocide Watch (USA), The World Federalist Association (USA), The Cambodian Genocide Program, GenNet (USA), International Alert, Physicians for Human Rights (UK), The Leo Kuper Foundation (UK), The Committee for an Effective International Law (Germany), The Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide (Israel), and Prevent Genocide International (USA).
Having observed the successes of the NGO coalitions that had helped bring about the Rome Treaty of the International Criminal Court and the International Treaty to Ban Landmines, we thought the best model of organization for the movement was a coalition. However, those movements also had secretariats sponsored by one of their founding members and each was led by a brilliant organizer (Bill Pace and Jodie Williams, respectively) with a full-time salary from a sponsoring organization. The World Federalist Association (USA) agreed to play that role for the Campaign to End Genocide, although the motion passed at the July 1999 meeting of its Executive Committee by only one vote. At the same meeting, Tim Barner, the original backer of the Campaign, was ousted from his job.
In March 2000, the new President and CEO of the World Federalist Association - U.S.A., John Anderson, reversed the previous decision of the WFA-USA Executive Committee, ordered me to work exclusively with U.S. organizations, and ordered me to terminate my work with the overseas groups who made up a majority of the members of the Campaign to End Genocide. He claimed that a national branch of the World Federalist Association (WFA-USA) could not coordinate an international coalition. His view seemed short-sighted for an organization whose very name denies the primacy of divisions created by national boundaries. I therefore resigned from my job with the World Federalist Association, U.S.A. in order to continue the international campaign's work. However the World Federalist Association- USA insisted on retaining control of the name “Campaign to End Genocide,” even though it was launched as a coalition with nine other organizations, and has retained the old Campaign’s website, brochure and logo. (It did so partly because while I was the Campaign’s Director, WFA-USA had registered the Campaign to End Genocide with the Combined Federal Campaign and it now makes money from contributions to it.) WFA-USA says it will continue to work against genocide, but only in the USA, and only through promotion of its world-governance goals – the International Criminal Court and the UN Standing Volunteer Peacekeeping Force.
WFA-USA’s actions were a temporary setback for the international movement. We lost the organizational base that WFA-USA had given us – the office, equipment, personnel system, and salary, however meager, for the people working on the Campaign. There was no office space for interns. There was no organizational and accounting history to use in fund-raising. But on the other hand, we were freed from the control of an organization whose primary purpose is the promotion of world governance, not the prevention of genocide. We were freed from a tiny, dying organization with members whose average age is well over sixty. We learned from the experience that the movement must be led by an organization whose sole purpose is genocide prevention.
Genocide Watch has taken over coordination of the international coalition. Every member of the original international campaign except the World Federalist Association- USA and WFA’s affiliate, the Campaign for UN Reform, has remained a member of the International Campaign to End Genocide. We renamed it The International Campaign to End Genocide to distinguish it from WFA’s Campaign to End Genocide. The International Campaign’s Steering Committee met in London in October 2000 to plan future directions and outreach to other groups. The Aegis Trust joined the International Campaign then, and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global Mission also joined, the first religious group to do so. We plan to add many other member organizations to the coalition in the coming years, particularly NGO’s in countries at risk of genocide. Directors of our member organizations met again in London in January 2002 and again during the meetings of the International Association of Genocide Scholars meetings in Ireland in June 2003. We now have twenty member organizations and a large Board of Advisors that includes many of the most prominent experts on genocide.
Genocide Watch monitors the world for early warning signs of genocide and other mass killing and declares Genocide Alerts when such signs are found. It then mobilizes member organizations of the International Campaign as well as other human rights and religious groups to educate key governments and the United Nations about potential or actual genocides or genocidal massacres. It seeks to create the political will among such governments to take action to prevent and stop such genocides.
The International Campaign to End Genocide
The International Campaign to End Genocide is an international coalition dedicated to creating the international institutions and the political will to end genocide. We have four goals:
The provision of public information on the nature of genocide and creation of the political will to prevent and end it.
The creation of an effective early-warning system to alert the world and especially the U.N. Security Council, NATO and other regional alliances to potential ethnic conflict and genocide.
The establishment of a powerful United Nations rapid response force in accordance with Articles 43-47 of the U.N. Charter, as well as regional rapid response forces, and international police ready to be sent to areas where genocide threatens or has begun.
Effective arrest, trial, and punishment of those who commit genocide, including the early and effective functioning of the International Criminal Court, the use of national courts with universal jurisdiction, and the creation of special international tribunals to prosecute perpetrators of genocide.
This Campaign is a de-centralized, global effort of many organizations. In addition to its work for institutional reform of the United Nations and regional organizations, it is a coalition that will bring pressure upon governments that can act on early warnings of genocide through the U.N. Security Council, NATO, and other means. The Campaign will establish its own NGO early warning system and has its own website (www.genocidewatch.org ). Bypassing the secrecy of government intelligence services, the Campaign hopes to facilitate establishment of truly confidential communication links that will allow relief and health workers, whistle-blowers, and ordinary citizens to create an alternative open source intelligence network that will warn of ethnic conflict before it turns into genocide.
The International Campaign to End Genocide works to create political will through:
1. Consciousness raising -- maintaining close contact with policy makers in key governments, particularly of U.N. Security Council members, providing them with information about genocidal situations.
2. Coalition formation -- working in coalitions to respond to specific genocidal situations and involving members in campaigns to educate the public about solutions.
3. Policy advocacy -- preparing options papers for action to prevent genocide in specific situations, and presenting them to policy makers.
The first Genocide Alert declared by Genocide Watch and the International Campaign was in September, 1999, when Indonesian troops and militias began genocidal massacres against the people of East Timor after they had voted for independence in a U.N. sponsored referendum. Crisis Groups were organized in Washington, D.C. and London to divide up the tasks of education, lobbying, and humanitarian response. In Washington, they included Genocide Watch, Amnesty International, the Asia-Pacific Center for Peace and Justice, Catholic Relief Services, the International Crisis Group, Mennonites, Human Rights Watch, and the East Timor Action Council. The first meeting in Washington was opened by Nobel Peace Prize winner José Ramos-Horta.
We set five goals: 1. Get an international peacekeeping force into East Timor. 2. Get aid to the refugees and the displaced. 3. Get a special session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights convened in Geneva. 4. Get a U.N. Commission of Inquiry appointed to investigate the atrocities. 5. Get a criminal tribunal created to try those who committed crimes against humanity.
Crisis Group members lobbied the U.S. government, I.M.F., World Bank, and the governments of the U.K., France, and Australia, along with members of the U.N. Security Council. Amnesty International took the lead in lobbying members of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, and succeeded by one vote in getting the special session called, only the fourth in the Commission’s history. The U.S., I.M.F., and World Bank told Indonesian President Habibie that international financial assistance would end if he did not accept a peacekeeping force in East Timor. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called General Wiranto and told him to call off his troops or be held accountable.
The President of Genocide Watch drafted an options paper on creation of a criminal tribunal for East Timor that was widely circulated in the U.S. State and Defense Departments and National Security Council, as well as to the governments of the U.K., France, Australia, and U.N. Security Council members. The day after U.K. International Campaign board members Bernie Hamilton (Leo Kuper Foundation) and Peter Hall (Physicians for Human Rights) presented the paper to the British Foreign Ministry, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook publicly supported creation of an international criminal tribunal for East Timor.
Most of our goals for East Timor were met. With Indonesian acquiescence, Australia sent in a U.N. authorized peacekeeping force. Catholic Relief Services took the lead in organizing relief for refugees. The U.N. Commission on Human Rights appointed a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the atrocities committed in East Timor. It recommended creation of a tribunal in East Timor, which is now trying some of those who committed crimes. (However, Indonesia has used its national courts to exonerate all but a few of those responsible.) A U.N. peace and reconstruction operation was authorized by the Security Council, and it has made major contributions to rebuilding East Timor.
Since 1999, Genocide Watch has also issued Genocide Alerts on the Eastern Congo (February 2000) where Hema and Lendu have repeatedly conducted genocidal massacres during a Congolese civil war that has cost at least three million lives; Sudan (November, 2000) where a north – south civil war has caused the deaths of two million people; Indonesian Borneo (March 2001) where Dayaks engaged in genocidal massacres of Madurese; Taliban Afghanistan (May 2001) where the Taliban issued an edict requiring Hindus to wear yellow patches of cloth and to identify their houses with yellow cloth markers; Zimbabwe (February 2002) where Shona militias have engaged in murder of Matabele political opponents and food aid is denied to those without membership cards in Mugabe’s political party; and Côte d’Ivoire (December 2002) where a civil war has divided the north and west from the south, and the foreign laborer population, which comprises a quarter of the total, has been vilified and massacred.
Several other situations have warranted ongoing Genocide Watch attention, in particular: Burundi; Nepal; Gujarat, India; Nigeria, Brazil, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and North Korea. Genocide Watches and background articles are available on the Genocide Watch website here. We have prepared briefing papers for use by policy makers in their meetings with key foreign leaders involved in violent conflicts. These Alerts have been circulated by FAX and e-mail to policy makers in the U.S. and Europe and have been posted on our members’ websites.
Genocide Watch has regularly attended the meetings of the Chechnya working group at Freedom House and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. We have also been active in the coalitions concerned with the African Great Lakes region both in Washington, D.C. and in Brussels.
In its capacity as Coordinator of the International Campaign to End Genocide (ICEG), Genocide Watch has increased the number of member organizations to twenty, with offices in nine countries on four continents. It has organized annual meetings of the member organization directors, and has maintained the Genocide Watch website as an avenue for communication between the members and the general public. The President of Genocide Watch has given numerous speeches in the U.S., Europe, and Africa promoting the ICEG and explaining genocide early warning and prevention through understanding the stages of the genocidal process. In 2001 – 2002 he was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., where he worked on a book, The Eight Stages of Genocide: How Governments Can Tell When Genocide Is Coming and What They Can Do To Prevent It.
Members of the International Campaign to End Genocide have taken the lead in responding to several genocidal situations. Prévention Génocides in Belgium made a film about the situation in Côte d’Ivoire which it showed both on Ivorian television and at the French Foreign Ministry, and it has led the call for intervention and a negotiated peace in that country. It placed an advertisement in Le Monde in December 2002 signed by over 3000 human rights advocates from around the world. Genocide Watch and Survivor’s Rights International met with State Department officials to support that effort. Genocide Watch has held meetings for several years with U.S. government officials about the continuing crisis in Eastern Congo. Survivor’s Rights International has taken the lead in forming the Sudan War Crimes Working Group in Washington, DC. The Aegis Trust has hosted numerous conferences on the Holocaust and genocide and is currently undertaking a campaign to raise £10 million to build a Center for Genocide Prevention in Nottinghamshire, England.
In October 2001, Genocide Watch co-sponsored a conference in Harare, Zimbabwe on Genocide Prevention and Peace-Building with the Council of Churches of Southern Africa and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The conference was attended by ninety leaders of church denominations from eleven countries in southern Africa as well as representatives of the Islamic and Jewish faiths.
Genocide Watch has continued its work for early warning and work with key policy makers on Darfur, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ethiopia. Other members of the International Campaign have worked around the world. The International Crisis Group joined the International Campaign in 2003, as did the Minority Rights Group, and Survival International. Each of those organizations have strong international field staffs and expertise in early warning and advocacy.
The President of Genocide Watch and the Chairman of the Board of the International Campaign met with U.N. officials in October 2002 to promote the establishment of a permanently staffed Genocide Prevention Focal Point on the policy planning staff of the U.N. Secretary General. In a paper presented to the Stockholm International Forum on Preventing Genocide in January 2004, I proposed appointment of a Special Representative for Genocide Prevention in the U.N. Department of Political Affairs. I had shared the paper in advance with the Policy Planning staff for the Secretary General. Secretary General Kofi Annan responded positively to this idea and announced at the Stockholm Forum, and again at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights commemoration of the Rwandan genocide in April 2004, that he would name a Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide. In the summer of 2004, he appointed Mr. Juan Mendez to this position. Mr. Mendez has a distinguished career in the promotion of human rights, and we regard his appointment as a major step toward improving the United Nations’ work in preventing genocide. We are now considering ways to support his efforts, including the establishment of a Genocide Advisory Group of experts on genocide prevention, and a Genocide Prevention Center to provide independent assessments to Mr. Mendez and his office.
Genocide Watch is currently soliciting membership in the International Campaign to End Genocide from religious organizations because they have the deepest grass roots and great potential for transcending ethnic and national divisions. It is also developing contacts with educational publishers and teacher’s organizations to promote education for tolerance. The President chaired a panel at a conference in Berlin in March 2003 devoted to how school texts can be used to promote education about the history of genocide and its prevention.
The Importance of Our Movement
I believe the international campaign to end genocide in the twenty-first century will someday be seen in the same way we see the anti-slavery movement of the nineteenth century. It is time in human history to end genocide, the worst of all crimes against humanity. There were those in the nineteenth century who said that slavery couldn't be ended because the economic forces that supported it were too great, that it was human nature, or even worse, that it was ordained by religion. There will be similar defeatism about the movement to abolish genocide. There has always been genocide, so it must be part of human nature. The world political order is not yet developed enough to prevent and stop it. Or, worst of all, genocide is ordained by jihad or ethnic purity or religion.
But those who say we cannot abolish this curse upon mankind are no more right than those who said slavery could not be defeated. It is a matter of human will. And we make that human will. As Archbishop Tutu is fond of saying, "God is a God of justice. But to do justice, God depends on us.
Genocide Watch is the Coordinator of the International Alliance to End Genocide P.O. Box 809, Washington, D.C. 20044 USA. Phone: 1-202-643-1405 E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org