December 21, 2018
Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act Heads to President for Signature after Final House, Senate Passage
Bipartisan bill will bolster U.S. leadership in preventing future genocides and atrocities
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO-2), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY-14), Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, lauded final passage Wednesday of bipartisan legislation that will strengthen America’s global leadership in preventing mitigating and responding to genocides and human rights atrocities wherever they may occur. The bill is expected to be signed into law by President Trump.
The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (S. 1158), which was approved by the House today and by the Senate last week by unanimous consent, originally passed the House as H.R. 3030 on July 17, 2018 in a vote of 406-5 with 117 cosponsors. There were 34 Senate cosponsors. It is named in honor of the late Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, author, Nobel Laureate and inspiring spokesperson for humanity.
“America’s strength around the world is rooted in our values. It is in our national interest to ensure that the United States utilizes the full arsenal of diplomatic, economic, and legal tools to take meaningful action before atrocities occur,” said Senator Cardin. “Tragically, these atrocities are happening today; we simply cannot wait to act. The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act will help ensure that United States can do a better job of responding earlier and more effectively to these heinous crimes.”
“America’s moral principles and national security interests require us to take proactive steps to prevent acts of genocide and other mass atrocities, and this legislation will help support that important objective,” said Senator Young. “The phrase ‘Never Again’ must be more than just a phrase. I was proud to work with Senator Cardin on this important legislation, and I look forward to it being signed into law.”
“We are haunted by repeated failures and missed opportunities to end global tragedies before they begin,” said Congresswoman Wagner. “There is more the United States can and must do to help vulnerable communities and persecuted people around the world. Good intentions and platitudes like “Never Again” have not prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians at the hands of the Assad regime, the genocide of Rohingya in Burma, or the brutalities against Muslim Bosniaks, many of whom fled to St. Louis from their childhood homes. I am proud that the Elie Wiesel Act is directing attention toward prevention so that we are better equipped to act before violence begins. Let me be clear: genocide IS preventable.”
“Eliminating genocide and similar atrocities throughout the world is a core moral and national security responsibility the United States government must constantly pursue. The Elie Wiesel Act will serve as an important tool in that effort by helping the U.S. identify the signs of potential genocide and work to end the violence,” said Congressman Crowley. “I’m grateful for the work of Rep. Ann Wagner and our Senate colleagues to ensure this legislation passed in the 115th Congress.”
The full bill text is at this link. The legislation:
· Affirms the importance of strengthening U.S. efforts around mass atrocities through interagency tools like the Atrocities Prevention Board (APB);
· States that preventing genocide and mass atrocities are core U.S. national interests and calls on the Administration to pursue a government-wide strategy to: strengthen U.S. diplomatic, risk analysis/monitoring, early warning, and response capacities around atrocity crimes; improve the use of U.S. foreign assistance to address the root causes of violent conflict; strengthen support to transitional justice mechanisms and local civil society groups in countries at risk of or experiencing mass atrocities; prioritize preventative diplomacy through unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral mechanisms;
· Requires specialized training for Foreign Service Officers who will be deployed to a country experiencing or at risk of mass atrocities; and
· Mandates annual reporting to Congress of Administration efforts to prevent and respond to mass atrocities and an assessment of countries and regions at risk of such violence.
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