The Early Warning Project produces risk assessments of the potential for mass atrocities around the world by combining state-of-the-art quantitative and qualitative analysis. The project aims to give governments, advocacy groups, and at-risk societies earlier and more reliable warning, and thus more opportunity to take action, before such killings occur.
In 1979, the President's Commission on the Holocaust outlined a vision for the United State Holocaust Memorial Museum with a three-pronged mandate: to serve as a memorial to the Holocaust's victims and survivors; to stand as the pre-eminent center for Holocaust education; and to
"alert the national conscience ... to insure that such a totally inhuman assault as the Holocaust - or any partial version thereof - never recurs."
The Museum's Committee on Conscience was created to fulfill the third part of the mandate. This work is now carried out through the Museum's Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide (CPG), which is dedicated to stimulating global action to prevent genocide and to catalyze an international response when it occurs.
The Museum's stature as America's official memorial to the Holocaust provides the CPG with unique moral authority and credibility on the issue of genocide, and has helped propel the CPG to the forefront of the broader genocide prevention field. The Museum's achievements include powerful exhibits on contemporary genocide viewed by hundreds of thousands of people and the creation of the Save Darfur movement. Most recently, the Museum-sponsored Genocide Prevention Task Force, headed by Madeleine Albright and William Cohen, produced the game-changing policy blueprint that led to the Obama Administration's appointment in 2012 of the first-eve Atrocities Prevention Board.
Reliable early warning has been identified as a critical part of efforts to prevent mass atrocities. As the Museum-sponsored Genocide Prevention Task Force said in its 2008 report,
The first major element of a comprehensive system to prevent genocide and mass atrocities is a reliable process for accessing risks and generating early warning of potential atrocities... Effective early warning does not guarantee successful prevention, but if warning is absent, slow, inaccurate, or indistinguishable from the 'noise' of regular reporting, failure is virtually guaranteed.Indeed, virtually every study on the subject affirms that intervention is likely to be more successful and less costly when it occurs before mass killing starts. The earlier, clearer, and more reliable the warning, the greater the opportunity to prevent rather than respond.
The Early Warning Project answers the call for earlier, clearer, and more reliable warning by providing up-to-date forecasts on countries worldwide using the best available data and methods, and by the open and collaborative design underpinning that work.
The Early Warning Project's goals are:
We aim to build a system that policymakers, advocates, journalists, and scholars will come to recognize as a reliable and trusted source of early warning for mass atrocities. Our goal is ambitious: to drive the policy agenda and shape the public debate around which countries and populations are at risk of mass atrocities and why.
The Early Warning Project is a joint initiative of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College. Valuable early assistance to the project was provided by the Digital Arts, Leadership and Innovation Lab and the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College.