DC-Cam: As the ECCC Winds Down, Education Is the Next Step Forward Toward Atrocity Crimes Prevention

The Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam) in collaboration with the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide (OSAPG) have concluded the final session of its three-part training programme on Atrocity Crimes Prevention through Education in the Southeast Asian Region.

According to a DC-Cam’s press release AKP received this afternoon, this final three-day training session represented the third part of a series of training sessions designed to fill the need for professional development on atrocity crimes prevention for education professionals in the Southeast Asian region.

Twenty secondary school and government education officials from Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia received lessons and shared ideas on how to incorporate atrocity crimes prevention education in their respective school systems using student-centered learning methodologies. In addition to receiving training on atrocity crimes prevention, educators received instruction on and practiced how to train and mentor other teachers in what represented a train-the-trainer curriculum.

Part I of this three-part series encompassed a 6-hour virtual workshop that provided educators with an introduction to internationally recognised legal definitions of atrocity crimes and the risk factors associated with such crimes, as reflected in the U.N. Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes: A Tool for Prevention.

Part II of the programme encompassed a three-day hybrid (virtual and in-person) training session, which provided participants with a greater global understanding of atrocity crimes in history and a more in-depth familiarisation of approaches, lessons, and materials associated with teaching the history of atrocity crimes, with a focus on the history of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Part III of this programme, which was held in Bangkok, Thailand, Sept. 16-18, focused on a capstone exercise in which participants were required to develop and present a lesson plan on atrocity crimes prevention that could be incorporated into their local school systems.

The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide for the United Nations, Ms. Alice Wairimu Nderitu, opened the ceremony virtually, and Ms. Maria Westergren, a representative of the OSAPG who attended the three-day session in-person, provided closing remarks.

The development of this programme comes at a particularly significant time as the Cambodian-U.N. Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) prepares to issue its final decision in the appeal by Khieu Samphan, effectively closing the chapter in the court’s work.

The U.N. has a long history of extraordinary work in the Southeast Asian region, and in particular Cambodia. In 1993, the U.N. sought to bring the Khmer Rouge to the ballot box to achieve a peaceful settlement to decades of war; however, the Khmer Rouge stubbornly pursued war at all costs. The U.N. never gave up in its work at supporting peace in Cambodia and this commitment evolved into a pursuit of justice, which was advanced through the work of the ECCC. As the ECCC winds down, in many ways the development of atrocity crimes education represents the rational evolution in responding to and addressing atrocity crimes through efforts aimed at prevention.

From the organisation of elections under the auspices of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia and the establishment of the ECCC, the U.N. has been a steadfast partner and key stakeholder to Cambodia and the Southeast Asian region’s long struggle in confronting the effects of the Khmer Rouge regime.

This programme signifies the next great step forward in the U.N.’s post-conflict transitional justice legacy in the region. Taking the lessons learned from the Khmer Rouge period and incorporating them into broader curricula covering atrocity crimes in history represents the international community’s next step forward in atrocities crimes prevention.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press