As we blogged previously, we’re working — with your help — to put pressure on the presidential candidates around critical issues like genocide prevention, and the crises in Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Syria.

We took a first step by writing letters to both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney asking them to publicly pledge their intention to make the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities a national priority.

In past instances, both candidates have indicated support for this important nonpartisan issue, but we need them to take the next step. Obama stated in his Presidential Study Directive issued in April 2012 that, “Preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States.” Obama should reiterate this commitment.

Romney, while not directly addressing genocide prevention, has expressed support in the context of Sudan. In January his campaign released a statement saying, “Mitt Romney is committed to protecting innocents from war crimes and other atrocities, ensuring that humanitarian aid reaches those desperately in need, holding accountable those leaders who perpetrate atrocities and achieving a sustainable peace for all who live in Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan.” Romney should expand that commitment to all people who face the world’s worst crimes, and publicly pledge to make genocide and mass atrocities prevention a national priority.

Any pledge should include a commitment to continue and strengthen advancements that have been made in U.S. government prevention efforts in recent years. In particular, structural changes like the Atrocities Prevention Board that was set up by President Obama, and efforts such as a Civilian Response Corp that was started under former President George W. Bush should be not only preserved, but strengthened.

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