UNITED NATIONS, YEREVAN(Combined Sources)— The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on the first-ever International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime on Wednesday, December 9.
“Today, we observe the first-ever International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime. This occasion also coincides with the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948.
This is an ideal time to reaffirm our commitment to prevent this serious international crime, honor the memory of the victims, and reaffirm the right to remedies and reparation, as recognized in international law.
Preventing genocide means paying more attention to the warning signs, and being prepared to take immediate action to address them. This is the spirit of my Human Rights up Front initiative.
After all, genocide does not just happen; it unfolds over time. It is not part of the accidental “fallout” of conflict; most often, it is systematic, planned, with precise targets, and it can also take place outside of conflict situations.
Across the world today, intolerance and xenophobia are on the rise. A dangerous “us versus them” dynamic is often being exploited to justify the exclusion of communities based on different forms of identity such as religion, ethnicity or other, and to deny assistance, restrict human rights and perpetrate atrocious acts of violence.
The prevention of genocide is a specific obligation under international law. The International Court of Justice and other judicial bodies have made that very clear. Governments must act on this imperative by investing in prevention and taking preventive action. On this new international observance, let us recognize the need to work together more concertedly to protect individuals from gross human rights violations and uphold our common humanity.”
Following a successful effort lead by the Republic of Armenia to pass this resolution, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian also issued a statement on the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime:
“Today, the international community for the first time officially observes the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime. It was the recurrence of the gravest crime against humanity that resulted in the creation of the term genocide, and subsequently the adoption in 1948 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Convention opened a new legal page in the definition of genocides and global fight for the prevention of genocides.
These days, when progressive people of the world commemorate important anniversaries of the most vicious crimes committed in the 20th century, including the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, 70th anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz, 40th anniversary of the genocide in Cambodia, as well as anniversaries of genocides in Rwanda and other places, of Pontic Greeks and Assyrians, the history of the humankind is being distorted right before our eyes, right before our eyes there take place ethnic cleansings, mass murders, millennia-old cultural monuments of the human civilization are being destroyed, the memory of the nations is being erased.
Therefore, the international community has once again come together: to pledge on December 9 of every year that the best way to pay tribute to the memory of the innocent victims of this most horrendous crime is the consolidated fight against genocides.
This consolidation resulted in the endorsement by the majority of the UN member states of the proposal made by the Republic of Armenia – motherland of the nation which survived in a genocide – and through the corresponding resolution of its General Assembly declared December 9 the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime. The initiative was a momentous achievement for our commitment to the international fight against the crime of genocide which has acquired a special connotation in the year when we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
From now one, December 9 is not only the day of the adoption of the Convention of the Prevention of Genocides but each year on this day we will unite under the auspices of the United Nations to reconsider the message of the day – Never Again.”
United Nations Under-Secretary-General, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva Message Mr. Michael Moller made an address on the occasion of International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime. The text of the message is presented below.
“On 9 December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Crime of Genocide. The horrific and tragic experiences of the Holocaust were still fresh and the international community said “never again”. Sixty-seven years later, our Member States came together to establish the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of This Crime. As we remember all victims of genocide on this important day, we are reminded that the determination expressed in the Convention of 1948 was not enough to prevent the recurrence of the unspeakable atrocities it addresses.
The establishment of this International Day therefore serves as a much needed call to action. Let the deep sadness that fills our minds when we hold the victims of genocide in our memories reinforce our resolve to make “never again” a reality. Let it energize us to strengthen the important institutions for accountability and justice that have been established to fight impunity. Let it encourage us to enhance early warning mechanisms and capacity to respond. And most importantly, let it inspire us to re-affirm efforts to promote respect for human rights, rule of law and tolerance as the most powerful tools for the prevention of genocide. Effective prevention requires a stronger focus on instilling empathy, respect and understanding in our schools, in addition to teaching technical skills.
Over the last two years, the international community has commemorated the anniversaries of some of the most devastating atrocities of the last century. At the same time, in several regions including areas that were directly affected in the past by genocide, killings and other atrocities based on nationality, ethnicity, race or religion, are on the rise. These extremely worrying developments make it imperative that the international community remain vigilant. Decisive action by the international community addressing early warning signs should be the standard answer of our Member States and not the exception to the rule.
The survivors of genocide are the strongest advocates of avoiding the recurrence of genocide at all costs. Their suffering and their struggle must not have been in vain.”