MONROVIA – Six African countries, including Liberia, are taking part in a three-day capacity-building workshop on how to prevent atrocities at the state level. The workshop kicked off on Wednesday, May 18, 2022 in Monrovia with a call for African governments to invest in atrocity prevention.

The workshop is organized by the Kofi Anan Center of the Peacekeeping Training Center and the Government of Ghana in collaboration with the Liberia Peacebuilding Office. The objective of the workshop is to develop regional capacities to improve atrocity prevention in the six West African countries.

Mr. Edward Mulbah, who heads the Liberia Peacebuilding Office, said the workshop aims to cultivate the pathway that would lead to action being taken to eliminate atrocity crimes and ensure collaborative engagement that will inspire leaders to go beyond the actions of the state.

The workshop will also draft a policy implementation plan that will ensure atrocity crimes are limited. Workshop participants will also discuss the gains made in the fight against atrocities and the need for an early warning system to be in place and the political will to continue by stakeholders should be a priority.

The workshop also aims to make stakeholders more transparent, accountable and timely in their response to atrocity crimes, and to strengthen legal policies by protecting them. Workshop participants also want civil society organizations to see themselves as important partners in the fight against atrocity crimes.

Conflict prevention remains a key priority for the United Nations. In Africa, this includes maintaining peacekeeping and peacebuilding missions, assisting countries that have recently experienced conflict in their reconciliation and reform efforts, and the establishment in 2002 of the Ad Hoc Working Group of United Nations on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa.

The Human Rights Council has also instituted technical support mechanisms for many African countries and, in addition to ongoing visits by special procedures with thematic mandates, in West Africa there are also independent experts by country for Côte d’Ivoire and Mali. In terms of operational prevention, the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations has had a significant presence in the West African region over the past two decades.

Several peacekeeping missions led by ECOWAS and the AU were subsequently transformed into major United Nations peacekeeping operations, notably in Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali. These missions generally maintain an active presence in the country long after the official end of a conflict in order to avoid a recurrence of violence and often participate in security sector reform, disarmament campaigns and the observation of elections.

While peacekeeping operations often make the most visible contribution to preventing or ending conflict, other UN agencies also assist states in structural prevention.

Atrocity crimes – systematic violence perpetrated against civilians – continue to have devastating effects on populations in Syria, South Sudan, Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR), Iraq, Yemen and beyond.

The failure to act quickly in the face of these growing crimes, despite strong international standards and national legislation, reflects the limits of the international system to prevent and stop these killings. More robust peacekeeping and rapid interventions have shown promise, but they are reactive and attempt to stop mass violence once it is already underway.


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