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.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs