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US Calls Out Genocide, Atrocities Committed in 6 Countries

Tom Dannenbaum explains the UN’s 1948 Genocide Convention international treaty, which criminalizes genocide, via an article in VOA News.

The United States called out genocide and atrocities happening in six countries —Myanmar (also known as Burma,) China, Ethiopia, Iraq, Syria and South Sudan — as part of a report highlighting how the U.S. government is using financial, diplomatic and other measures to try to stop them. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday released an annual report on genocide and atrocities prevention.  

"This year, for the first time, the report provides direct detailed accounts of atrocities taking place in specific countries, including Burma, Ethiopia, China and Syria. These places represent some of the toughest foreign policy challenges on our agenda," Blinken said.

"We'll use all of the tools that are at our disposal, including diplomacy, foreign assistance, investigations in fact-finding missions, financial tools and engagements, and reports like this one, which raise awareness and allow us to generate coordinated international pressure and response," Blinken added.

In January, Blinken affirmed that China was committing genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region. The State Department continues to restrict visas for Chinese officials believed to be responsible for detaining or abusing Muslim minorities.

The U.S., European Union, Britain and Canada had sanctioned two Chinese officials for their involvement in the human rights abuses. Dozens of Chinese companies have also been added to the U.S. Entity List for their roles in human rights abuses in Xinjiang.  

The prevention of a genocide is not only a moral responsibility but also an obligation under international law, said some experts, while noting some limitations. 

"Acts of genocide are crimes of universal jurisdiction in U.S. federal courts. No matter where the crimes of genocide were committed, the perpetrators can be tried in U.S. federal courts," Gregory Stanton, the founding president of Genocide Watch, told VOA.  

But those perpetrators "must be physically present in the U.S. because U.S. courts do not try anyone in absentia," Stanton added. 

"The 1948 Genocide Convention, which the United States ratified in 1988, requires states to prevent and to punish genocide," Tom Dannenbaum, an assistant professor of international law at Tufts University's Fletcher School, told VOA.  

"But the duty to prevent does not include an authority to use military force abroad to that end," Dannenbaum said. 

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