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How can we prevent mass atrocities?

From June 1 to 3, Concordia's Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies hosts a one-of-a-kind training session
May 4, 2016
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By J. Latimer


“It’s the only training program of its kind and it has become a global hub in just four years,” says Kyle Matthews, MIGS’s senior deputy director. “This is the only training program of its kind and it has become a global hub in just four years,” says Kyle Matthews, senior deputy director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS).


They’re coming from Europe, Africa and Asia. They work for the United Nations, the Red Cross and La Presse.

From June 1 to 3, more than 50 participants from around the world will gather for Concordia’s MIGS 2016, the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) two-and-a-half day Professional Training Program on the Prevention of Mass Atrocities.

“It’s the only training program of its kind and it has become a global hub in just four years,” says Kyle Matthews, senior deputy director of MIGS.

“We get journalists, NGO officials, human-rights activists and politicians as well as diplomats. The Honourable Irwin Cotler, for example, is coming to talk about his time as Nelson Mandela’s personal lawyer and his work as an activist for genocide prevention.”

The MIGS training program is tailored to mid- to senior-level professionals interested in the prevention and interdiction of mass-atrocity crimes. The course is offered in partnership with the World Policy Journal.

“We’re increasing our focus on how social media platforms are used as weapons of war,” says Matthews. “We’ll be looking at case studies, including Iraq and Syria. And we have a speaker — René Provost, a Trudeau Fellow — who is focused on getting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to follow the Geneva Conventions to decrease suffering in far-away conflict zones.”

Matthews is pleased to be adding more Concordia faculty to the roster this year. André Gagné, associate professor in the Department of Theological Studies, will join Vivek Venkatesh, associate professor in the Department of Education, and Matthews for a panel discussion about the brand of violent extremism used by ISIS.

Venkatesh is the director of SOMEONE (SOcial Media EducatiON Every day), a portal developed to build awareness and resilience, create space for dialogue and combat online hate. During the talk, he will outline SOMEONE’s mission of finding peaceful ways to prevent radicalization and extremism.

“On the SOMEONE portal, we have a project on the Islamic State and how they use social media videos to basically capture the interest of our youth and as recruitment tools,” says Venkatesh.

“We face topics like hate speech, radicalization and violent extremism. Our team works with and gets feedback from people who’ve had different experiences fighting hate speech. MIGS 2016 is a great opportunity for us to bring our broad message of social pedagogy to major stakeholders.”

For those who can’t attend in June, Matthews is planning to launch a new MIGS training session this fall on the prevention of violent extremism.

Apply to participate in MIGS 2016, the Professional Training Program on the Prevention of Mass Atrocities, happening at Concordia from June 1 to 3, 2016.

The March for Humanity and the Prevention of Genocide, which takes place on May 8, from 2:30 to 5 p.m., will start at Cabot Square. This free event is co-organized by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) and the Alliance for Genocide Awareness and Remembrance (AGAR). 

 



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