News

    Obama Unveils Sanctions, Touts Anti-Atrocity Measures

    President Obama embraces Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel - Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, April 23, 2012.
    President Obama embraces Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel - Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, April 23, 2012.

    President Barack Obama is taking new steps designed to strengthen the U.S. government's ability to detect and respond to mass atrocities and human-rights abuses around the world.

    Obama announced the human-rights actions, formalized in an executive order and notifications to Congress, as he made his second visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

    Last year, the White House announced a comprehensive strategy that identified the prevention of mass atrocities and genocide as a core national security interest and moral responsibility of the United States.

    A new Atrocities Prevention Board, formed in 2011, was to meet for the first time Monday at the White House.

    Obama said U.S. government agencies will for the first time produce a National Intelligence Estimate aimed at assessing the potential for mass killings in countries around the world.

    The president called these and other steps part of "institutionalizing" how the U.S. government mobilizes and uses tools to prevent mass atrocities and genocide.

    "We need to be doing everything we can to prevent and respond to these kind of atrocities," he said. "Because national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people."

    Obama listed steps his administration took to deal with various situations, including the U.S. and allied operation in Libya that he said helped save innocent lives.

    He also mentioned diplomacy to stop fighting that threatened last year's independence referendum for South Sudan, steps to end upheaval in Ivory Coast, and his sending of U.S. military advisers to help efforts against the Lord's Resistance Army in central Africa.

    Announces sanctions
    Obama said the situation in Syria shows the U.S. and those working to prevent atrocities cannot "control every event," but that the U.S. will continue to work with allies and partners to pressure and isolate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He announced new sanctions against the Syrian and Iranian governments to help prevent them from using Internet- and phone-monitoring technologies to track and target people for attack.

    "These technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them," he said. "It is one more step that we can take toward the day that we know will come -- the end of the Assad regime that has brutalized the Syrian people and allow the Syrian people to chart their own destiny."

    The president's remarks at the museum marked the annual remembrance of the Holocaust.

    Survivors, Jewish community leaders, and human-rights activists were among those present.

    Obama also used his remarks about the Holocaust to reiterate strong U.S. support for Israel in the face of threats from Iran.

    He said when faced with a regime that threatens global security, denies the Holocaust, and threatens to destroy Israel, the U.S. will do everything in its power to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

    Obama was introduced by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel with whom he toured the Buchenwald concentration camp site in Germany in 2009.

    "The greatest tragedy in history could have been prevented had the civilized world spoken up, taken measures," Wiesel said.

    Obama announced that he will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award to a civilian, to the late Jan Karski, a former Polish officer who provided first-hand accounts of Nazi atrocities committed before and during World War II.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Thomas
    April 25, 2012 6:15 AM
    I wonder if the slaughter and phosphorus bombs in Gaza will come up in their deliberations... I wonder if any Palestinian Americans are seated on the board or is this just another Neocen "death" panel

    by: megadave
    April 24, 2012 7:28 AM
    funny how the US has used every tactic that Obama is trying to not allow other countries to do. Clear hypocrisy

    by: Foday Kallon
    April 24, 2012 12:06 AM
    May the Good Lord bless and keep the U.S Strong and give them all the powers to equitably govern and secure the World's population from atrosicities. God bless President Obama and the U.S government for such a brilliant and unbias decision to secure not only there interest but that of the world's population in need of such security. Long live the United States Long live Peace and Security.

    by: john johns
    April 23, 2012 2:03 PM
    Obama Unveils Sanctions, Touts Anti-Atrocity Measures? The better headline would read The United States Unveils Sanctions, Touts Anti-Atrocity Measures against the falsely elected . Are these people hugging and shaking hands with this moron paid to do so? The lady in the foreground appears about to vomit, maybe she is having second thoughts.......

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shababi
    X
    Henry Ridgwell
    April 28, 2016 4:20 PM
    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Town Receives Refugees but Lacks Resources

    A wave of refugees is pouring into the Kurdish town of Afrin in northern Syria as a result of fighting between rebel forces and Islamic State militants. VOA’s Amina Misto went to the town and reports local authorities are finding it difficult to cope with this influx of internally displaced people. Bronwyn Benito narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Build Human Tissue on Animal Matrix

    The question has always been, if a gecko can grow back its tail, why can't we regenerate our lost body parts? Well, maybe we can, someday. Scientists are moving towards the ability to rebuild fully functioning organs, and have made significant progress replacing muscles and other tissue.
    Video

    Video Containing Chernobyl Radiation Continues 30 Years After Explosion

    April 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Hundreds were killed following the explosion and it's estimated that thousands more have died from cancers caused by the radiation. Henry Ridgwell traveled to Chernobyl and reports for VOA on the continuing efforts to decommission the site -- and on the fledgling plans for a new future in the vast exclusion zone.
    Video

    Video Frustration Builds Among Refugees Trapped at Macedonian Border

    On the Greek border with Macedonia, 12,000 refugees continue to wait. Since the route to the rest of Europe was closed last month, the makeshift camp at Idomeni has seen protests and tear gas. But while those here wait, their frustration grows — as do reports of people attempting to find new ways of continuing their journey. John Owens reports from Idomeni.
    Video

    Video Researchers: Bees Help Kenyan Farmers Fend Off Elephants

    Elephant crop-raiding continues to be a major source of human-wildlife conflict in Kenya, so one elephant researcher is helping to alleviate the problem near Tsavo East National Park with beehive fences, which use elephants’ natural aversion to bees to deter them from farms. VOA’s Jill Craig visited the area ahead of this month's Giants Club Summit, which will bring together dignitaries at Mount Kenya to find solutions to combat poaching, the No. 1 threat to elephants.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora