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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs