Yesterday, Congress’ Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held a hearing on prevention of mass atrocities around the world. Transcripts of prepared statements by a number of witnesses and a video of the entire hearing are available on the Commission’s website.  In his opening statement, Commission co-chairman James McGovern said in part:We are persuaded that atrocities are not the product of “ancient” ethnic or religious hatreds but rather of conscious, strategic decisions by ruling elites and non-state actors to achieve specific ends. Those actors need a reason to commit atrocities, and the means and opportunity to do so. The issue becomes how to change their strategic calculus.We think impunity is one of the elements in that strategic calculus. If the perpetrators enjoy impunity, this may be seen as a “green light” to expand a genocidal or mass atrocity campaign.



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