For Immediate Release, July 23, 2013
Contact: Allison Sturma, 202-429-4725

(Washington) - A report released today by former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright and former presidential special envoy to Sudan Richard S. Williamson, identifies concrete steps to increase U.S. capacity in preventing mass atrocities. As chairs of the Working Group on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), they examine the utility of the R2P principle for the prevention of mass violence. The Working Group is co-hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Brookings Institution. The roll out event will begin at 9:00 am and can be watched online.

“Sixty-eight years after the Holocaust, governments continue to struggle with how to prevent genocide and mass atrocities. In the United States, both Republican and Democratic administrations have agreed that it is in our national interests to do so. We hope that our efforts to shed light on the Responsibility to Protect as a mechanism for protecting civilians from future harm will provide our government with additional means to help prevent the world’s worst crimes,” said co-authors Albright and Williamson.

 “If the R2P doctrine can do anything, it is to help move us away from a policy of indifference and waiting for the worst, and more aggressively adopting policies that prevent atrocities before they begin,” added Ambassador Williamson.

In summary, the report concludes:

  • Implementing R2P faces political, institutional, and operational challenges. Expanding the set of tools for policymakers, supporting justice and accountability mechanisms, and narrowing the gap between warning and responses remain operational challenges to be met. Evolving U.S. and global institutions present new but uncertain opportunities for addressing mass atrocities.
  • The Responsibility to Protect places primary emphasis on preventing mass atrocities before they begin. Acting before violence erupts or escalates allows for a wider array of tools and reduces both the financial and human costs of intervention, whatever form it takes.
  • This report recommends a number of steps be taken to strengthen R2P: articulating a clear vision of U.S. support for all pillars of R2P, diplomatically engaging key like-minded states, pursuing a policy of positive engagement with the International Criminal Court (ICC), continuing to institutionalize steps to prevent atrocities, and developing additional uses for modern technologies to advance R2P objectives.

These recommendations provide a roadmap for the U.S. to enhance its global leadership on atrocity prevention and for the international community to advance its collective capacity to fulfill its obligations under the responsibility to protect.


The United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan conflict management center created by Congress to prevent and mitigate international conflict through nonviolent means. USIP works to save lives, increase the government’s ability to deal with conflicts before they escalate, reduce government costs, and enhance national security. USIP is headquartered in Washington, DC. To learn more, visit

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