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.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs