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.

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Comment Sorting
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.......

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