It'll Take More than Political Rhetoric to Stop Genocide

Forbes, May 10, 2016

4 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2016 Last revised: 28 Aug 2016

See all articles by Zachary D. Kaufman

Zachary D. Kaufman

Boston University - School of Law; University of Florida Levin College of Law; Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law; University of Houston Law Center; Stanford Law School; Yale University - Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: May 10, 2016


In mid-March, both U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the U.S. House of Representatives characterized atrocities ISIS has perpetrated as “genocide.” These declarations mark only the second time in history — after then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s determination in 2004 in relation to Darfur — that a U.S. presidential administration has stated that an ongoing crisis constitutes genocide.

After recognizing such odious crimes against humanity, what should the U.S. government actually do to stop or at least mitigate them? On February 11, a bipartisan coalition of 15 senators introduced the “Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2016” (“the Act”). Two weeks later, more than 60 faith, human rights, humanitarian and anti-genocide groups released a statement lobbying for the bill’s passage. The Act is certainly laudable in calling attention to the ongoing scourge of mass atrocities, in formalizing both Democratic and Republican support for confronting this issue, and in institutionalizing mechanisms to monitor and combat such crimes. What the U.S. government needs more than new legislation, however, is greater political will to actually deal with such heinous offenses.

Keywords: Transitional Justice, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Islamic State, Atrocity, Atrocities, Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, Darfur, John Kerry, Colin Powell, Barack Obama, Bashar al-Assad, Democrat, Republican, White House, Atrocities Prevention Board, APB, Atrocity Prevention, United States, Syria

Suggested Citation

Kaufman, Zachary D., It'll Take More than Political Rhetoric to Stop Genocide (May 10, 2016). Forbes, May 10, 2016, Available at SSRN:

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