Today, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) delivered a Senate floor speech to urge the Senate to pass the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2016. Earlier this year, Senator Tillis introduced the bipartisan legislation with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
                                                                                                                                                                                
The legislation ensures that the U.S. government works in a coordinated manner using its full range of tools, including diplomatic, political, financial, and intelligence capabilities, to provide early warnings about at-risk communities and states in order to help prevent mass atrocities against civilians.
 
This legislation strengthens atrocity prevention efforts by:
  • Authorizing the establishment of a transparent, accountable, high-level Atrocity Prevention Board to advance an interagency effort to prevent mass atrocities and ensure a coordinated and effective response to emerging and ongoing atrocities;
  • Authorizing the Complex Crises Fund, overseen by the Administrator of USAID, to support emergency efforts to prevent or respond to emerging or unforeseen foreign complex crises overseas, including potential mass atrocities and conflict;
  • Mandating training for Department of State and USAID Foreign Service Officers at high risk posts to recognize patterns of escalation and early warning signs of potential atrocities or violence and;
  • Encouraging the Director of National Intelligence to include in his/her annual testimony to Congress on threats to US national security a review of countries or regions at risk of mass atrocities or genocide
 
Joining Senators Tillis and Cardin in supporting the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2016 are co-sponsors Senators Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Robert Casey (D-PA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
 
The legislation is actively supported by 26 atrocity prevention and human rights groups. The list can be found here.
 
WATCH SENATOR TILLIS’ FULL SPEECH HERE.
 
Tillis on the role Congress can play to stop genocide:
Congress has an important leadership role.  We can help ensure that America has the tools to combat genocide and atrocities, and combat violent conflict. This is why I joined Senator Cardin in introducing the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act. [WATCH HERE]
 
Tillis on the humanitarian consequences of genocide:
If you think that this is a problem that is “over there”, think again.  Terrorism has reached our shores.  It has devastated some of the great cities of the world—London, Paris, Brussels, Madrid and Bali.   As a result of conflict, there are now a record 60 million displaced men, women and children. That is more than at the height of displacement during World War II. Responding to the dire needs of those fleeing violence has driven a 600% increase in global humanitarian aid over the past 10 years, from $3.5 billion in 2004 to $20 billion in 2015. I have seen the human cost in the refugee camps along the Turkish-Syrian border, I was there a few weeks ago.  These were Muslims fleeing ISIS and a bloodthirsty dictator who unleashed chemical weapons on his own people. [WATCH HERE]
 
Tillis on the importance of genocide prevention to North Carolina:
As the Senator from North Carolina, I also have a special reason for supporting this legislation that has the potential to fuse diplomacy, intelligence and foreign aid, in turn prioritize government action to prevent future atrocities. That is important to me because my state is the tip of the American spear.  When diplomacy fails, it is the 82nd Airborne Division, the Special Forces from Fort Bragg and United States Marines from Camp Lejeune that are going to go resolve the conflict. We want to avoid those conflicts, and we owe it to them to do better by putting partisanship aside and by taking proactive steps to avoid sending our servicemembers into harm’s way to confront a conflict that could have been prevented without firing a single shot. [WATCH HERE]