This week the United States government took an important step toward protecting vulnerable communities across the globe. On Monday, January 14, 2019, the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act became United States law.

This fresh new law represents the best of American ideas and its passage will ensure that the United States government is well equipped to take proactive steps that can prevent mass atrocities, like those committed by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and will help hold our leaders accountable to taking action to protect many of our world’s most vulnerable.

The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act does the following:

1) Requires the establishment of a Mass Atrocities Prevention Task Force

This task force would allows for various U.S. government agencies, from the State Department, to USAID, to various intelligence agencies to coordinate and prioritize action to prevent and respond to genocide and mass atrocities. Furthermore, the task force is required to provide Congress with an annual report of U.S. government efforts related to the prevention of mass atrocities, a global assessment of risks, and recommendations for strengthening atrocities prevention efforts.

2) Requires training for U.S. Foreign Service Officers

U.S. Foreign Service Officers working in countries and regions at risk of mass atrocities now much undergo training that will equip them to recognize early warning signs of potential atrocities and make them aware of the tools available to mitigate violence. With this newly mandated training, these officers will be able to more effectively take action to prevent widespread violence and mass atrocities.

3) Encourages the Director of National Intelligence to update Congress annually

In their annual testimony to Congress on threats to U.S. national security, the Director of National Intelligence is encouraged by this law to include a review of countries at risk of mass atrocities and to highlight specific countries and regions at immediate risk of atrocity crimes, including most likely pathways to violence, specific risk factors, potential perpetrators, and at-risk target groups.

4) Formally establishes the Complex Crises Fund

The Complex Crises Fund provides a flexible source of funding to the State Department and USAID which can be used to respond to situations that could lead to genocide or mass atrocities without swift action. Since 2010, Congress has consistently authorized funds for the Complex Crises Fund but, before now, the fund was never formally established. In years past, it has proven effective in supporting the prevention of atrocities in places like the Central African Republic (CAR), Guinea, and Jordan.

Thanks to Members of Congress like Senators Ben Cardin and Todd Young, as well as Representatives Ann Wagner, Eliot Engel and Joe Crowley who championed this legislation, the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities PRevention Act is now firmly in place as U.S. law, recommitting our leaders to preventing violence and mass atrocities and empowering them with the tools to take concrete action when necessary.