The Genocide Prevention Advisory Network

The Advisory Group is an informal, international network of experts on the causes, consequences, and prevention of genocide and other mass atrocities. The Group has no staff, structure, or formal links to other organizations.  Its members provide risk assessments and advice to all interested parties, including the UN, individual governments, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, and any other international political grouping that designs and promotes policies aimed at preventing and mitigating mass atrocities that have or may acquire genocidal dimensions.

Specific aims of the group:

  1. An ongoing data and theory-driven process that identifies situations at high risk of mass atrocities. Periodic risk lists are prepared and posted by Barbara Harff. She has also worked with the FAST program of the Swiss Peace Foundation to develop an operational genocide-specific early warning system.
  2. Identification of workable strategies for halting ongoing mass atrocities. Network members familiar with Sudan, notably Eric Reeves, are working to improve international policies for checking mass violence in Darfur.  David Scheffer has special expertise on international humanitarian law and R2P doctrine.
  3. Identification of short-term and long-term strategies aimed at preventing future mass atrocities, taking into account case studies and comparative research on conflict prevention in general and genocide prevention specifically. Helen Fein, Birger Heldt and Barbara Harff are among the group members with expertise on this subject.
  4. Collaboration with public and non-governmental entities to help provide expertise in support of international action.
  5. Creating and maintaining a website, www.GPANet.org , that provides risk lists and information on preventive activity for general users plus password-protected forums on current crisis situations and an archive of relevant documents and research reports.

Group history

The group began with consultations initiated by Yehuda Bauer in 2001 to advise the Swedish government in preparation for the Stockholm Forum on the Prevention of Genocide. Most of us contributed to the Forum, held in January 2004, as presenters or advisers. At the Forum representatives of 55 governments adopted a Declaration of commitment to prevent future genocides, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced the establishment of the office of Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide.  Members of the group subsequently had frequent meetings with the first Special Advisor, Juan E. Mendez, and his staff.

These objectives from the Declaration are at the heart of our group's purposes:

"1. We are committed to using and developing practical tools and mechanisms to identify as early as possible and to monitor and report genocidal threats....

"4. We are committed to supporting research into the possibilities of preventing genocide, mass murder and ethnic cleansing.

"7. We are committed to cooperating in our search for effective measures against genocidal dangers with all members of the family of nations, in the United Nations and other relevant global and regional organizations as well as with non-governmental organizations...."

The group has continued to add new members to broaden its expertise. Since 2006 representatives of the group have held five meetings in Switzerland at the invitation of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and two meetings hosted by the governments of Sweden and of the Netherlands. The purpose of these meetings is to identify options for possible preventive actions, and to serve as a sounding board for policies and initiatives of the sponsoring governments and international organizations.