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The Role of the United Nations in Stopping Genocide

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The Role of the United Nations in Stopping Genocide


United Nations.
Genocide -- Prevention.


Oral history video clip featuring David Scheffer, United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues. This video was originally produced by Media Entertainment, Inc., for the 2000 documentary The Genocide Factor.


Media Entertainment, Inc.


Genocide Factor Collection, Oral History Program, Tampa Library,
University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.


Tampa, Fla. : University of South Florida Tampa Library.




Scheffer, David


Tape number: 4059H


video / mp4




Oral History

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Prior, Cecily


Scheffer, David


United States Department of State, Washington D.C.


Well, the U.N., the United Nations, plays an absolutely dominant role in the issue of protection of human rights, of enforcement of international humanitarian law, and of preventing atrocities. They do it, the United Nations, in many different ways with, of course, the participation of the member states in the United Nations. One very simple way is the Secretary-General using his good offices to help negotiate and mediate in ways that hopefully prevent these atrocities from occurring. But, the Security Council plays a very, very significant role in terms of peacekeeping and peace enforcement, and when you see atrocities occurring in the world, there’s usually a clarion call for the Security Council to implement a peacekeeping or a peace enforcement capability in that part of the world as a response to the violence that is leading to the atrocities. Now, this is an extremely tough challenge for the Security Council, because there are so many competing interests within the council itself. And the 1990s have clearly demonstrated the give and take on this issue within the Security Council. Sometime the council is prepared to intervene; sometimes the council is not prepared to intervene. And so it’s a tremendous challenge, and sometimes nations need to look to coalitions of the willing, operating under international law to respond to some of these problems, in the event the United Nations is not in a position to immediately do so. So, there’s a very interesting dynamic that has to take place there. But the United Nations is absolutely critical, and one would hope that there is a growing and maturing recognition by key member states of the United Nations of our collective responsibility to respond to these atrocities and to use the United Nations system for that purpose. And again, that is why I would emphasize that, for the United States to truly take advantage of that opportunity that the United Nations presents, to share the burden, so to speak. It’s absolutely essential that the United States pay its arrears to the United Nations, so that we have the full creditability to advance these issues in a United Nations that is increasingly presented with these very, very intractable problems.

Original Format

Beta tape




Media Entertainment, Inc., “The Role of the United Nations in Stopping Genocide,” USF Library Special & Digital Collections Exhibits, accessed July 13, 2020,