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EARLY WARNING SYSTEM

 

Introduction

The Center for the Prevention of Genocide was established in October of 2000 with the mission of anticipating and preventing acts of genocide in remote locations around the world.  Since then it has developed a practical early warning system designed to bring first hand accounts of abuse from the areas it monitors to policy makers reliably and quickly.  It has served as a responsible channel for information from the field to policy makers at the UN, in the US, several foreign ministries and the media.

The Center has published twenty-two reports as well as a journal and it has hosted lecture and TV series on the subject of genocide and genocide prevention. It is through its early warning work that the Center fulfills its most valuable role in warning specific offices designed to respond to these exact kinds of humanitarian emergencies.  Through the use of qualified volunteer researchers several lines of communication have been developed in remote hotspots around the world.  Neutral third party observers are used as sources in the field to report or verify massive human rights violations or ominous signs of abuse to come.  The Center uses a variety of reliable and trustworthy sources including but not limited to, members of the media, Embassy staff, UN agencies, Relief organizations, other human rights organizations, missionaries as well as international business persons doing work in the area.

The Early Warning System concentrates on emergency situations which are genocidal or pre-genocidal or areas where a crisis with potential trigger mechanisms pose a credible threat to a vulnerable minority.  The narrow scope of this mission has enabled the Center to concentrate its resources on areas where people are most endangered but have been largely overlooked. 

 

History

The Center has monitored over twenty-five hotspots during its existence.  Similar to a fire engine company, whenever a crisis arises in one of the areas, the Center responds with an emergency crisis procedure.  This includes neutral third party verification of the abuse or dangerous pre-genocidal indicator and then a release of the confirmed information to the appropriate officers at the UN, the US State Department, the media and several foreign ministries. There have been twelve emergency crisis procedure in the past two years with several of them being false alarms. Below is a breakdown of five situations that were not false alarms but where early warning is likely to have played a direct role in the cessation of violence.

  • Nuba Mountain Range, Sudan Summer 2001:  A Man-Induced Famine which would have claimed approximately 85,000 lives   due to government and government sponsored militia bombing of humanitarian relief flights was averted due to USAID airlift of 2800 metric tons of sorghum to the area.  The week before the initiative was announced, the Center put on a presentation at USAID with comprehensive evidence of (article 2, section c: 1948 genocide Convention) man-induced famine, this may have sealed Director Natsios’ findings and furthered the decision to intervene.
     
  • Sulawesi, Indonesia, December 2, 2001:  Muslim on Christian violence, originally initiated by Christians in the Moluccas Islands, sparked anew in Sulawesi.  Over 45,000 Christians became trapped by members of Laskar Jihad which had vowed to massacre them by Christmas. The Center received the information before the wire services carried it, verified it through a credible ground contact, released it to the wire and forwarded the information to the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Human Rights members and staffs. Unlike the Moluccas where there was no intervention and where word of massacres did not reach the West for several months, the Sulawesi violence was instantly reported and President Megawati subsequently send 4,000 troops within 48 hours and secured the safety of the population in jeopardy.
     
  • Gujarat, India Summer/Fall 2002:  Further Hindu on Muslim violence, initiated originally by Muslims angered by the destruction of a Mosque, was averted by swift action on the part of the Indian government.  Hindu Ultra Nationalists were poised to continue the systematic rape and attacks on the Muslim minority community during a controversial festival when the Indian government intervened with 500 Sikh police officers to neutrally guard the peace.  The Center issues two reports on the nature of the violence though the crisis ebbed during this particular emergency crisis procedure.
     
  • Chechnya, Russia December 2002:  The Russian government had indicated an intention to liquidate the Chechen refugee camps in Ingushetia during the winter months. Such an action would likely result in the deaths of some of the elderly and infirm in the Chechen population. After the striking of the first camp of 1500 the transfers were halted in part due to the vigilance of the UN and NGOs like the Center who helped apprise policy makers of the dangerous exposure to the elements that the population was being subjected to.
     
  • Ituri and South Kivu Province, DR Congo, August 2002 – May 2003:  Ituri: Hema and Lendu militia reprisal killing of each other’s vulnerable populations largely escaped notice due to the larger civil war issues in DR Congo.  The Center has issued three separate press releases and undertaken four emergency crisis procedures to inform policy makers of this unfolding danger. At present the UN has stationed 750 peacekeepers and is seeking to expand its mandate to include more.  South Kivu: RCD Goma rebels were responsible for the massacre of unarmed civilians in a rival rebel area.  The UN has dispatched a fact finding mission to the area.

 

 


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Last updated: 06/24/03.