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Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes: a democratic, inclusive approach to atrocity prevention

Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes (GAAMAC) (www.gaamac.org) as a community of commitment composed of states, civil society and academic institutions pledging to prevent atrocities by establishing national prevention mechanisms and policies has set an exemplary precedent for democratic engagement between governments and civil society actors. Indeed, as a horizontal network, GAAMAC offers a trusted space for frank discussions on challenges and opportunities to prevent mass atrocities.

This democratic vision of how a global network ought to be conceived and maintained trickles down to its own work. GAAMAC is regularly mentioned as a best practice and recognized as a key partner. For instance, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recognizes GAAMAC as a valuable network in developing partnerships, mechanisms and good practices. In its Resolution 37/26 of 2018, the UN Human Rights Council acknowledges GAAMAC as a successful outcome for genocide prevention.

More concretely, GAAMAC focuses on the opportunities that prevention offers to any given society as a whole - in complementarity with existing regional and multilateral efforts. First, GAAMAC creates synergies and offers a trusted space by enabling coalition-building and partnerships through supporting networks and enhancing the linkages that exist or can be created between states, civil society and the private sector. During and in between its global meetings, which take place every two years, GAAMAC enables dialogue though exchanging information, sharing experiences and lessons learned. During its third Global Meeting - GAAMAC III - which took place last year in May good practices from other prevention systems such as public health were showcased; the crucial role that youth and sports play in strengthening community resilience was highlighted; the need to en-gender atrocity prevention and dealing with the past was recognized and included as a recommendation in its outcome document. 

Second, GAAMAC prioritizes building national architectures and policies as a mechanism to foster inclusion. GAAMAC global meetings have produced outcomes which have served as guidance document for national policies. For example, the African Working Group (which itself is composed of government and civil society organizations), which emerged from GAAMAC II, has elaborated a “Manual on best practices for the establishment and management of national mechanisms for genocide and mass atrocities prevention” showcasing the value of the “bottom-up” approach (based on the National Peace Council in Ghana) to increase inclusion and keep a gender-lens in creating a national mechanism for atrocity prevention. 

Third, one can not conceive inclusion, good democratic governance without dealing with the past and without addressing the impunity gap. Understanding past structural phenomena that have led to mass violence and addressing the impunity gap are key elements for reconciliation, good governance and non-recurrence of the commission of atrocity crimes. As stated by GAAMAC’s Chair, Ms. Mô Bleeker during the Third Global Forum Against the Crime of Genocide which took place 9-11 December, 2018 in Yerevan, “The Joinet Principles Against Impunity offer a solid framework for a holistic approach, taking into account the right of victims to know, and the duty of states to protect: the right to justice and reparation and the duty to create conditions for non- recurrence through for example access to archives, memory and education.”

Accountability and inclusive societies go hand in hand with atrocity prevention!
 
By Jelena Pia-Comella – Senior Advisor – GAAMAC 
 
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