Risks and Realities of Mass Atrocities facing Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples

Hosted in collaboration with the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights

Friday, April 16, 2021

In many parts of the world, particularly throughout the Americas, indigenous peoples have been and continue to be victims of targeted mass atrocity violence. The violence is not limited to colonial era genocides, forced displacements, religious conversions or so-called re-education programs. It has continued in the form of destruction and contamination of lands and waters in the name of economic development, as well as killings and disappearances of indigenous rights defenders.

Most recently it has manifested in disproportionate infection and death rates as part of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Nowhere is the persistent attack on indigenous rights and the need for more effective atrocity prevention work more apparent than in Brazil.

Join us in a conversation with four leading atrocity prevention actors from different spheres of Brazilian society who are working to protect indigenous peoples. This event is intentionally scheduled to occur just before the start of the 2021 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Simultaneous Interpretation:

English - Portuguese

The Panelists: 

Image: Tonico Benites
Tonico Benites
Tónico Benites (Guarani-Kaiowá) is an indigenous rights leader, anthropologist and human rights defender from Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. He has developed extensive research and mapping exposing the patterns of attack perpetrated against indigenous communities in Brazil. He is a leading spokesman for the Guarani and Kaiowá peoples, and serves as a translator, consultant and expert in federal lawsuits. He holds a Masters and PhD in Social Anthropology; his post-doctoral research project involved coordination of “A dialogue between the memory of indigenous peoples and the national historical heritage.”

Image: Marcia Wayna Kambeba
Marcia Wayna Kambeba
Marcia Wayna Kambeba (Omágua / Kambeba) is a poet, writer, composer, photographer, activist and international speaker on indigenous and environmental issues, and the first indigenous Ombudswoman in Belem do Para, Brazil. She is the author of 4 books of poems about the Amazon and indigenous and environmental issues. She is a trained Geographer with a master's degree in Cultural Geography and a Specialization in Environmental Education. 

Image: Fernanda Bragato
Fernanda Bragato
Fernanda Bragato is a Full Professor of Law Unisinos Law School (Brazil). Her research is at the intersection of human rights theory, decolonial thinking, and indigenous rights, with an emphasis on indigenous land rights and conflicts in Brazil in the context of risk for atrocities. She holds a Master and PhD in Law, and as held been a visiting scholar at Birkbeck College (University of London) and Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Cardozo Law School.

Image: Júlio José Araújo
Júlio José Araújo
Júlio José Araújo, Jr. is a former Federal Judge and current Federal Prosecutor at in the State of Rio de Janeiro. He is Coordinator of the working group on Prevention of Atrocities against Indigenous Peoples in the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the working group on Traditional Peoples and Communities within the National Council of the Public Ministry.  He is a PhD student in Public Law at Rio de Janeiro State University and author of "Indigenous land rights: an intercultural interpretation.”

Moderated by: 

Nadia Rubaii, co-director of the Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention (I-GMAP), Binghamton University

Jocelyn Getgen Kestenbaum, director of the Benjamin B. Ferencz Human Rights and Atrocity Prevention Clinic at Cardozo Law

Women of Color Leaders in Atrocity Prevention
Friday, April 9 from 2:00 - 3:30pm (EDT)

Join us as we celebrate the work of women of color in atrocity prevention and their visions for transformation. We will be joined by Francia Marquez, an internationally recognized Afro-Colombian environmental and racial justice leader and Miranda Sheffield, a community scholar and organizer from Pomona, California deeply rooted in Black feminist school of thought. They will share with us their justice work rooted in ancestral knowledge, community and electoral politics, and their strategies and vision for atrocity prevention both locally and transnationally.

The Panelists:

Image: Francia Marquez
Francia Marquez Image Credit: Provided photo.
Francia Marquez is a grassroots activist internationally recognized for her work on environmental and racial justice. The winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2018, and a formidable leader of the Afro-Colombian community, Francia Márquez organized the women of La Toma and stopped illegal gold mining on their ancestral land. She exerted steady pressure on the Colombian government and spearheaded a 10-day, 350-mile march of 80 women to the nation’s capital, resulting in the removal of all illegal miners and equipment from her community.  Marquez recently announced that she will be running for president of Colombia.

Image: Miranda Sheffield
Miranda Sheffield Image Credit: Provided photo.
Miranda Sheffield is a mother, community scholar, and a community organizer. Her principles and practices are deeply rooted in Black feminist school of thought. She is active in the community as a member of Police Oversight Starts Today (POST) and Pomona United for Stabilized Housing (PUSH). Sheffield obtained her BA in Sociology from Cal State LA and a Master’s in Human Rights Law from SOAS University in London, in which she explored the historical legacy of maroons/fugitive slaves. Her community safety record includes her work as a case manager for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) and drafting a Federal policy briefing for more evidence-based mentorship programs for foster youth while working in Nancy Pelosi’s office.  Most recently she ran for Pomona District 6 City Council under "the peoples candidate" platform.

Moderated by:

Jenny Escobar, Charles E Scheidt postdoctoral fellow in Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention, Binghamton University

Nadia Rubaii, co-director, Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention (I-GMAP), professor, Public Administration, Binghamton University

A Conversation with Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the new UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide

Image: Alice Wairimu Nderitu
Alice Wairimu Nderitu Image Credit: Provided photo.
Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the newly appointed United Nations Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, joins us for a conversation about her long career in atrocity prevention and her vision for the Office of the Special Adviser during her mandate. 

Alice Wairimu Nderitu of Kenya is the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. Ms. Nderitu is a recognized voice in the field of peacebuilding and violence prevention, having led as mediator and senior adviser in reconciliation processes among communities in Kenya, as well as in other African settings.  She served as Commissioner of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission in Kenya, as well as Founding Member and co-Chair of the Uwiano Platform for Peace, a prevention agency linking early warning to early response.  She is also the founder of Community Voices for Peace and Pluralism, a network of African women professionals preventing, transforming and solving violent, ethnic, racial and religious conflicts worldwide.

Ms. Nderitu’s national experience includes her tenure as Director of the Education for Social Justice programme at Fahamu, and as Head of the Human Rights Education and Capacity-Building Programme for the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and its predecessor, the Standing Committee on Human Rights. Previously, she was Researcher and Administrator of the Kenya Prisons Service within the Ministry of Home Affairs. She is a member of the Kenya National Committee on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and All Forms of Discrimination, as well as the African Union Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (Fem-Wise), and the Women Waging Peace Network.

Ms. Nderitu holds a master’s degree in armed conflict and peace studies and a Bachelor of Arts, Literature and Philosophy from the University of Nairobi.  She is a Transitional Justice Fellow at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in South Africa.  Widely published, she is the recipient of awards recognizing her commitment to peaceful conflict resolution throughout Africa and her innovative approach to mediation. 

Prioritizing Children in Atrocity Prevention: Prevention Approaches in the Recruitment and Use of Children in Armed Conflict

In Collaboration with the Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security

Preventing the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and armed groups, criminal networks and gangs, and reintegrating former child soldiers in the aftermath of armed conflict, are profound atrocity prevention challenges. In conflicts around the globe, children are used in a variety of roles from combatants, in support functions, as sexual slaves, or as intelligence gatherers and as a result face a devastating range of physical, psychological, and social vulnerabilities. Successful reintegration of children after such experiences is challenging and exacerbated by the instability of post-conflict and economic insecurity. This significantly contributes, in turn, to a heightened risk of further cycles of violence and the recurrence of atrocity crimes. Finding better ways to protect children from recruitment and use and to reintegrate those who have previously been recruited should be prioritized for achieving more peaceful societies.

What prevention approaches hold most promise for reducing the recruitment and use of children as soldiers? What do these prevention efforts in the context of armed forces and armed groups have in common with parallel efforts in the context of criminal networks and gangs? How can lessons learned from interstate or intrastate armed conflict inform efforts to reduce recruitment into organized criminal networks, and vice versa?

In this webinar, we are joined by our colleagues from the Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security, as well as experts in the recruitment prevention and child protection fields both in the context of armed conflict and for criminal networks and gangs. Join us for a conversation on what they have learned through their experiences and their work.


  • Steven Dudley is an investigative journalist, policy analyst and author. He is co-founder and co-director of InSight Crime, a think tank focused on organized crime in the Americas.  He is the author of MS-13: The Making of America's Most Notorious Gang (2019).
  • Achaleke Christian Leke is a civil society peacebuilding activist with special expertise in youth issues.  He is National Coordinator of Local Youth Corner Cameroon.
  • Cesar Rincon is a Colombian lawyer with 30 years of experience in criminal investigation, focusing on criminal organizations, human rights violations and government corruption.  His experience includes 11 years as team coordinator at the United Nations International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).
  • Dr. Shelly Whitman is the executive director of the Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security (Canada).

Atrocity Prevention in the Biden-Harris Administration: a Two-Part Conversation

Part I: The United States and Global Atrocity Prevention in the Biden-Harris Administration: What to Expect, What to Hope For?

In Part I of our two-part series, we ask our guests to help us understand what we may expect, and what we could hope for, as the Biden-Harris administration responds to increased global atrocity risks and damaged international relationships. We will look specifically at the global challenges facing the new administration, and ways forward in reconstructing the country's global atrocity prevention mechanisms.


  • Beth Van Schaack, Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor in Human Rights, Stanford Law School. Former Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the Office of Global Criminal Justice of the U.S. State Department
  • Lawrence Woocher, Research Director for the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Kate Ferguson, Co-Executive Director and Head of Research and Policy, Protection Approaches, UK.
  • Jeffrey Sizemore, former Atrocity Prevention Lead at the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. State Department

Part II: Prospects for a Domestic Atrocity Prevention Agenda in the Biden-Harris Administration

In Part II, we focus on prospects for effective responses to the legacies of mass atrocities within the United States itself, with particular attention to the ongoing violence experienced by Black and Indigenous peoples due to structural factors as well as the rise of white supremacist violence.

Wednesday January 27, 3:00 - 5:00PM EST


  • Mark Charles, public speaker, consultant, co-auther of Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, and 2020 independent candidate for US President. 
  • Charles L. Chavis, Jr, assistant professor of Conflict Resolution and History and Director for the John Mithell, Jr. Program for History, Justice, and Race at George Mason University, and national co-chair for the United States Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Movement.
  • Shannon Foley Martinez, former white supremacist with our two decades of experience working to de-radicalize people who are still in the movement and to build resiliency at the individual and community level.

Moderator: Nadia Rubaii, Professor of Public Administration and Co-Director, I-GMAP

I-GMAP Webinar: The US Southern Border as an Atrocity Prevention Site

On October 14, 2020, we held our first webinar to discuss the US Southern Border as an Atrocity Prevention Site. Over 125 participants joined the session, what a great start to our series!

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Transitional Justice and Atrocity Prevention in Colombia

On December 16, 2020, we held an open coversation with four distinguished experts on the Final Accord and transitional justice in Colombia to help us understand the causes of ongoing atrocity violence in the country, and to help identify possible ways forward.

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