The world's governments and peace keeping agencies could have advance warning of when and where massacres are likely to occur through a project launched by the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. today.
The Early Warning System uses analysis of the conditions that lead to past genocides to create an index of warning signs, including authoritarian rule, ethnic power imbalances, exclusionary ideologies, and international isolation.
"From past genocides in Darfur, Bosnia, Rwanda and the Holocaust, we have learned what the clear early warning signs are that precede mass violence," Cameron Hudson, director of the Holocaust Memorial Museum's Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, told The Associated Press. "Tracking those indicators in at-risk countries around the world will, for the first time, allow us to look over the horizon to implement smarter, cheaper and more effective polices that prevent mass violence."
The project's developers have been testing the system for two years and have come up with a map and list of the nations currently most at risk of genocide by combining those indicators with analysis from genocide and regional experts:
Myanmar, which is still run by an oppressive Junta despite gearing up for limited elections in November, tops the list. Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, and the Central African Republic are also in the top five because of political instability, human rights violations, and in some cases, a lack of free elections. The list ranks the top 100 countries in the world in order of their likelihood of having a "state-led mass killing (killing of over 1,000 civilians) in countries with populations larger than 500,000." These are the top 10 countries at risk this year:
The creators of the project—museum staff working with Dartmouth College—intended to emphasize early responses to crises, with the hope that resources and attention will be directed to the parts of the world most at risk. They say there is no central publicly available list of countries at risk in the world right now, though individual governments and agencies might have their own private lists.
"For governments, policy makers, advocates, and others attempting to prevent mass violence, there has been no effective, publicly available mechanism for identifying where mass atrocities are likely to occur," the group's website says.