Preventing mass atrocities. Could UK civil society be doing more?

TitlePreventing mass atrocities. Could UK civil society be doing more?
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsFerguson, K, McDonnell, J
InstitutionProtection Approaches

The consequences of mass atrocities are far reaching and long lasting. Their human cost is catastrophic, their economic cost endures for generations and their impact is global. The challenge of preventing these terrible crimes is a complex one and requires collective commitment from societies, national governments, and international leaderships.

The United Kingdom can and should be a global leader in its contributions to the prevention of mass atrocities. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a founding member of NATO, and a leading aid donor, the UK Government plays a critical role in steering global prevention and protection efforts, and has significant national capacity to integrate these commitments throughout its trade, development, defence, foreign, and domestic policies. Likewise, UK civil society should be leading by example, applying scrutiny to UK and international policy, and integrating a prevention ‘lens’ across its human rights and development, activities. Instead, the UK could be seen to be falling behind others in its contributions to this urgent agenda. The prevention of mass atrocities is a shared responsibility and no state, no community and no sector should be expected to shoulder that burden alone.

This paper is concerned with UK civil society contributions. Drawing on extensive formal and informal conversations with civil society actors in the UK and abroad, in-house research, and a civil society workshop, this document provides a background to work being undertaken by UK NGOs in and around atrocity prevention, obstacles to more effective collective activity, and recommendations of next steps. (Executive summary)