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Predicting genocide? The Early Warning Project could create a global conscience

Written by André Ken Jakobsson, Ph.D. Candidate at Center for War Studies

The aspiring norm of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) has faced a backlash among great powers since the 2011 mission in Libya because it resulted in regime change which is not a popular concept to holders of power. So R2P has become an open battleground for interpretations of who, when, where and why to protect. In other words, R2P is as political as ever and the conflict of definition begins at the most basic level: The lack of a common ground from which to judge the necessity of a R2P mission.

.The aspiring norm of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) has faced a backlash among great powers since the 2011 mission in Libya because it resulted in regime change which is not a popular concept to holders of power. So R2P has become an open battleground for interpretations of who, when, where and why to protect. In other words, R2P is as political as ever and the conflict of definition begins at the most basic level: The lack of a common ground from which to judge the necessity of a R2P mission..The aspiring norm of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) has faced a backlash among great powers since the 2011 mission in Libya because it resulted in regime change which is not a popular concept to holders of power. So R2P has become an open battleground for interpretations of who, when, where and why to protect. In other words, R2P is as political as ever and the conflict of definition begins at the most basic level: The lack of a common ground from which to judge the necessity of a R2P mission.

The Early Warning Project has the potential to provide this common ground. The United States Holocaust Museum has created a tool to systematically track known warning signs that work as precursors for state-led mass atrocities. Taking into account several crucial factors, the Early Warning Project presents a statistical model on its website indicating the risk level for state-led genocide. But the project is more than the tool itself and allows experts to comment on the numbers of the model. The project also provides an "Expert opinion pool" that chimes in on central questions of concern that can be difficult or impossible to predict statistically. It traces these opinions over time and provides a significant insight that would otherwise not be generated and as easily accessible.

The Early Warning Project could potentially generate a global conscience and at least act as a bad conscience for the discussions on the R2P norm and its present impotence.

Currently Myanmar tops the risk assessment ranking in front of Nigeria, Sudan and Egypt.

For a short introduction to the project, head over to Foreign Policy.

But make sure to visit the project's own site at: earlywarningproject.com

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