For years, the United States government has lacked the tools it needs to effectively prevent violent conflict and mass atrocity crimes before they begin. Decades after the Holocaust, the U.S. government still finds it almost impossible to bring about its full diplomatic, economic, and intelligence resources to halt brewing mass atrocity crises before they fully begin. A quick glance at the dismal situations in Syria and Sudan are ample proof of that.
Progress on this issue has been excruciatingly slow, but there is now the opportunity to take a huge leap forwards. The Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (S.2551) (GAPA) recently introduced in the Senate will authorize the structures, funding, and training necessary to ensure that efforts to prevent mass atrocity crimes are more successful. And Senator Corker (R-TN) is uniquely positioned to move this bill forwards.
Here's 4 reasons why Senator Corker should become a cosponsor and allow the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to mark up the bill:
1. Senator Corker Is Already Supporting U.S. Efforts To Combat Mass Atrocities
The FY 2016 State Department Authorization Act (S.1635) unanimously passed the Senate on April 28, 2016. Section 131 of that important bill authorizes the President to create an interagency atrocities prevention board to coordinate the U.S. response to ongoing and emerging mass atrocity events.
While it is a good thing that Senator Corker and his colleagues ensured that the Atrocities Prevention Board would be authorized for 2016, there is a good chance that the Board will disappear if not reauthorized every year from here on forwards. Permanent authorization of the Atrocities Prevention Board is a core component of GAPA (S.2551). By becoming a cosponsor of this legislation and allowing it to be marked up by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Corker can ensure that his work to empower U.S. peace and national security efforts abroad will continue in the years ahead.
2. 44 Organizations Agree That GAPA Is Needed
Earlier this month, 44 organizations with a vast array of experience in the field of preventing and responding to mass atrocity crises signed a joint letter calling on Congress to pass GAPA. The bill most be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Senator Corker chairs, before that can happen though.
3. Senator Corker's Constituents Want GAPA To Become Law
Nearly 100 Tennesseans have signed a petition calling on Senator Corker to become a cosponsor of GAPA. As constituents, we understand that Senator Corker's support of this bill is critical to it moving forwards. As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Corker can play a major role in advancing U.S. national security and humanitarian policy by becoming a cosponsor and allowing the bill to be marked up by the committee.
4. Atrocity Prevention Is Always Preferable To Atrocity Response
The need for GAPA to become law goes well beyond moral reasons. Responding to genocide and mass atrocity crimes is costly, can be extremely risky, and will always be less effective than preventing these crimes before they begin. Right now, over 60 million people have been displaced by conflict worldwide - the highest number since World War II. This has required growing expenditures to support humanitarian assistance programs and other forms of intervention.
In places such as Sudan, Syria, and more, ongoing mass atrocities are setting the stage for cyclic violence and negative global impacts, such as the proliferation of terrorism, in the years ahead. These threats to U.S. security and interests can be mitigated with stronger investments in early prevention. It makes sense to invest more heavily in preventative actions as more lives can be saved at a much lower cost by stopping mass atrocities before they begin.
Progress on this issue has been excruciatingly slow, but GAPA is an opportunity to take a huge leap forwards. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and with the support of dozens of organizations and constituents, Senator Corker is uniquely positioned to move this bill forwards. And that is exactly what the Senator should do by becoming a cosponsor and allowing the bill to be marked up under his leadership.
The people of Sudan are overcoming two of the greatest challenges facing humanity today: war and genocide. Operation Broken Silence is working to accelerate their ability to generate lasting change through storytelling, education, advocacy, and emergency relief programs.
Ensuring that the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (GAPA) becomes law will raise the floor on how the U.S. government deals with these issues. Here's how you can help:
1. Learn More About GAPA. This bill will save lives and taxpayer dollars. LEARN MORE »
2. Join The Campaign. If you are a Tennessee resident, we are running a statewide campaign calling on Senators Corker and Alexander to become cosponsors of this important legislation. ADD YOUR VOICE »
3. Make A Donation. Our lifesaving work only happens because of your generous support. You can give by card, check, or stock. GIVE NOW »