At the end of April, the Executive Directors of the GCR2P, MIGS and the Sentinel Project travelled to Ottawa to meet with Members of Parliament, Senators and Canadian Government officials with the aim of identifying new strategic approaches and initiatives to prevent mass atrocity crimes.
In a press conference, all three organizations reiterated the urgency for Canada to prioritize atrocity prevention:
“As we stand in 2023, we have the highest number of displaced people (…) in modern history (…); we see internal conflicts happening (…) across Africa and the Middle East. (…) This is a very troubling time. And I think it’s a call for Canada and its allies (…) to work together to try and stop the change of the international world order, which is detrimental to human rights, detrimental to democratic norms and rules, and detrimental to the UN liberal international order itself,” said Kyle Matthews, Executive Director of MIGS.
The importance of multilateralism
Recalling Canada’s historic role as “a leader in the field of human rights”, its role in the development of the UN Peacekeeping and the norm of R2P, Savita Pawnday, Executive Director of the GCR2P, called on the “leadership of some countries that value human rights (…) to be consistent in their engagement within the multilateral fora (and) to raise their voice in support of the most vulnerable around the world.”
The importance of a joint effort led by Canada was made by all three speakers. They called on the authorities to mobilize its allies, and work with them in a more coordinated manner in order to respond to the many crises around the world.
Rapid response vs permanent prevention
Christopher Tuckwood, Executive Director of the Sentinel Project, noted that Canada has lacked long-term commitment in places that still require attention. Savita Pawnday echoed that thought, reminding the audience that atrocities do not happen in one day and require long-term prevention mechanisms.
In addition to that point, Christopher Tuckwood noted that the capacities for rapid response were also lacking when crises arose. He summarized: “I think we need both. If we thought of atrocity prevention as fire safety (…) we need to do more in terms of prevention (…) better building codes, smoke detectors everywhere (…) But we also have to accept that fires will still happen, and so we still need the fire brigade.”