U.S. President Barack Obama called for an atrocities prevention board to respond quickly to early signs of grave human rights abuses. Human rights and war criminals would be hindered from getting visas into the United States under the initiative.
Human Rights Watch in response to the directive notes Obama's directive creates a so-called dissent mechanism that gives officials a direct line to the president if they believe necessary action is being blocked.
Tom Malinowski, the Washington director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement the directive won't necessarily resolve how and when Washington addresses crimes like genocide.
"But these directives should help to overcome the bureaucratic resistance and indifference that often delays steps that might prevent such catastrophes in the first place," he said.
Obama in a proclamation said the prevention of atrocities and respect for human rights laws are fundamental U.S interests.
"The United States is deeply committed to ensuring that no individual, now or in the future, sees a path to power in division and death," added Susan Rice, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, in a statement.
The proclamation comes amid worries about ethnic-cleansing campaigns in Sudan and a bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters in Syria.