By Audrey Kim
On July 24, 2012 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered the keynote address at “Imagine the Unimaginable: Ending Genocide in the 21st Century” a symposium hosted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in cooperation with the Council on Foreign Relations and CNN. The symposium focused on practical steps and challenges of preventing genocide.
When the Secretary of State outlined the US’s actions and steps to prevent atrocities, she mentioned several situations that are under ICC jurisdiction, such as Libya, Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire, and Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Notably, she mentioned the International Criminal Court when she described how the Administration was acting on its commitment to the prevention of genocide and atrocities.
"So if a government cannot or will not protect its own citizens, then the United States and like minded partners must act. But let me hasten to say this is not code for military action. Force must remain a last resort, and in most cases, other tools will be more appropriate through diplomacy, financial sanctions, humanitarian assistance, law enforcement measures.
The Administration has acted on this commitment. When the Qadhafi regime threatened a massacre in the city of Benghazi, we forged an international coalition to stop the assault. When Laurent Gbagbo violently clung to power in Cote d’Ivoire, we worked with UN partners to prevent the killing of innocents and to pressure him to relent. Now, he is standing before the International Criminal Court. When the Lord’s Resistance Army escalated its attacks against civilians and its brutal work of turning children into soldiers, we helped governments throughout Central Africa increase their efforts to go after the leaders, including Joseph Kony."
Secretary Clinton also focused on the role of the recently established Atrocities Prevention Board.
"We’re putting our elements of this strategy – prevention and partnership – into action through the Atrocities Prevention Board that President Obama announced here. Now, it might not be obvious that creating yet another government board will address a problem as entrenched as this. But the fact is a body such as this can drive the kinds of institutional changes that we envision. It can help galvanize efforts across our government to focus on prevention, to ensure that all our tools and resources are being put to good use."
In her speech, Mrs. Clinton emphasized the necessity of prevention of future genocides. “The United States and our partners must act before the wood is stacked or the match is struck, because when the fire is at full blaze, our options for responding are considerably costlier and more difficult,” she said.