Why The UN Fails To Prevent Mass Atrocities

Why We Have Been Unable To Prevent Mass Atrocities
A new paper authored by Alex Bellamy and Adam Lupel of the International Peace Institute have examined the reasons behind the United Nation system’s failure to prevent mass atrocities and which strategies might be employed to overcome existing obstacles.

“In Syria, clear warnings issued by the UN and others at the start of the crisis in 2011 failed to galvanize collective action to stem the tide of conflict, which resulted, ultimately, in atrocities on a massive scale. The UN also was criticized for responding too slowly and timidly to the onset of atrocities in [the Central Africa Republic] in 2013,” they state in the report.

They maintain that at the core of the UN’s failure to respond is that its response remains largely ad hoc.

In addition, while international efforts can facilitate prevention where there is local will and capacity, and the levels and types of resilience can be different indifferent parts of a country producing different patterns of violence, but the so-called “structural” or “root” causes of genocide are rarely influenced by outside forces.

“A principal issue, and a recurring theme in the preceding analysis, is that in its engagement with troubled states and societies, the UN often has multiple concerns and, sometimes, competing priorities. As a result, because the system typically addresses atrocity risks in an ad hoc fashion— seeing them as extensions of its work on the protection of civilians, human rights, or humanitarian affairs—it is sometimes the case that atrocity prevention concerns are not prioritized, even when atrocities are imminent,” the report concludes.

“As a result, UN country teams, civilian missions, and peacekeeping operations are seldom configured for atrocity prevention, even when there is evident risk.”

Old Dictators Use New Media To Continue Propaganda
As part of the Legatum Institute’s new “Beyond Propaganda” series, Peter Pomerantsev shows how authoritarian regimes have learned to exploit the information age.

He notes in his new paper that neo-authoritarian, “hybrid,” and illiberal democratic regimes in countries such as Venezuela, Turkey, China, Syria, and Russia have demonstrated how adaptable they can be by employing new technologies to continue their propaganda machine.

In a related piece in The Atlantic, Moisés Naím examines how democracies are particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks from authoritarian regimes.

Fighting Corruption In Guatemala
In the Global Anticorruption Blog, Rick Messick describes an innovative anti-corruption agency in Guatemala that has been remarkably successful at bringing high-level officials to court.



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