MARO for a Better ‘Morrow

January 5, 2012
By Sally Chin, Carr Center

The Mass Atrocity Response Operations (MARO) Project recently co-hosted a groundbreaking conference with U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) on preventing and stopping genocide and other mass atrocities around the world.

Harvard Kennedy School’s Sarah Sewall, lecturer in public policy, founded the MARO Project in 2007 with the goal of enabling the US and other government to prevent and halt genocide and mass atrocity through the effective use of military assets and force as part of a broader integrated strategy. With the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI), the Project published Mass Atrocity Response Operations: A Military Handbook in 2010. A “MARO” is a contingency operation to halt the widespread and systematic use of violence by state or non-state armed groups against civilians.

The conference at the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany Nov. 8-9 brought together senior leaders, planners and other staff from the US military, State Department, Defense Department and the White House to discuss how to improve the U.S.’ capacity to prevent and halt mass atrocity. This conference was particularly timely as it occurred during the final stages of the work being done for Presidential Study Directive 10 on preventing mass atrocities, and included many of the key players involved with the study.

“The MARO Project has long been working to help the U.S. military concretely plan how to prevent and stop mass atrocities. This co-sponsored conference is an exciting milestone in that process,” said Sewall. “EUCOM and AFRICOM have acknowledged this is a priority for their commands and they drove the commitment to create related military doctrine. The U.S. military has acknowledged that mass atrocity is a problem for which we must be prepared.”

Speakers at the conference included: Sarah Sewall; Vice Admiral Leidig, AFRICOM Deputy to the Commander for Military Operations; Rear Admiral Montgomery, EUCOM Deputy Director (DJ5) Plans, Policy and Strategy; Stephen Pomper, Director for War Crimes and Atrocities, National Security Council; Tori Holt, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at Bureau of International Organization Affairs; Dr. Jane Stromseth, Senior Advisor for Rule of Law and International Humanitarian Policy in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy; and Janine Davidson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Plans.

Sara Sewall headshot photo

Sarah Sewall, lecturer in public policy

"The U.S. military has acknowledged that mass atrocity is a problem for which we must be prepared," said Sarah Sewall, lecturer in public policy.

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