Participants from the Perry Center Human Rights and Rule of Law Course visited the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) on Tuesday, June 21.
The course discussions include modern examples of genocide, in particular the case studies of Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and most recently Syria. The USHMM has been the site of frequent US efforts to prevent future acts of genocide. In 2008, former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright and former US Secretary of Defense William Cohen chaired the Genocide Prevention Task Force and subsequently published a lengthy report on genocide prevention titled Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for US Policymakers.
In 2012, President Obama declared at a speech at the Holocaust Museum that genocide was a “core national security interest and core moral responsibility.” During the same speech, he announced the establishment of the Atrocity Prevention Board to identify conditions that might lead to genocide events.
During the visit, the participants were tasked to consider other questions associated with the Holocaust. Is it realistic to expect soldiers to disobey illegal orders considering that military institutions value obedience and loyalty? How many soldiers actually question authority especially in a time of combat? What are the duties of citizens to oppose atrocities in their countries? What causes violations of human rights among professional military forces?