International Day of Commemoration of Genocide Victims Observed at UN

A scene from the panel discussion at the UN
A scene from the panel discussion at the UN

A scene from the panel discussion at the UN

UNITED NATIONS—For the third time since 2015 a special event in observance of the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime was held at the United Nations in New York on December 8.

The observance of the International Day commenced with a minute of silence in honour of the memory of the victims of Genocide.

Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, representing the Secretary-General delivered opening remarks. Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide delivered a keynote speech and launched a one year appeal for the universal ratification of the Genocide Convention.

The panel featured Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Armenia’s Ambassador to the UN; Jean-Claude Félix do Rego, Benin’s Ambassador UN; and Martin Fode Seck, Senegal’s Ambassador to the UN. Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, President of the International Criminal Court made remarks on the drafting of the Genocide Convention and its present challenges.

In his remarks Ambassador Mnatsakanyan noted that ‘there is a strong symbolism in determining 9 December as the International Day. Reaffirming the significance of the Convention as an effective international instrument for the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, UN General Assembly Resolution 69/323 linked the International Day to the date of the adoption of the Convention.

Ambassador Mnatsakanyan added that “intolerance, xenophobia, racial and ethnic profiling, glorification of hate crimes, especially lead and encouraged by the political leaders within a state should be a concern to the entire international community and serve a clear early warning sign of potential conflict and atrocity crimes”.

Stressing the importance of achieving universalization of the Genocide Convention, Ambassador Mnatsakanyan recalled that Armenia had proposed to launch a global campaign for raising the awareness of the Convention and calling upon those states that have not acceded to the Convention to do so by its 70th anniversary.

He added that Armenia endorses, fully supports and commits to work together with the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide in launching a one year appeal for the universal ratification of the Convention by the end of 2018. Representatives of UN member states, academic institutions, civil society organizations and media, as well as representatives of the Armenian-American community and school children attended the observance of the International Day.

The event was widely publicized in the UN. Background: Upon the initiative of Armenia, in September 2015, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted resolution 69/323 proclaiming December 9 as an International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.

This landmark resolution followed up on resolution 28/34 of the UN Human Rights Council initiated by Armenia. The resolutions, which have led to the establishment of the day, as well as the events held in its observance add to the continued efforts of Armenia to promote consolidated international action against the crime of genocide.

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