UN Asked to Mark 50th Year of Genocide Convention

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters)–Six countries have asked that the General Assembly session opening on Sept. 9 include on its agenda an item marking the 50th anniversary of the 1948 convention against genocide.

The request was made in a letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan–circulated on Wednesday–from the UN envoys of Armenia–Bolivia–Burundi–Cyprus–Rwanda and Uruguay.

"Despite all the advances in our civilization–the 20th century is–unfortunately–replete with instances of genocide–the latest of which the world witnessed in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Rwanda," they wrote.

"In some parts of the world concentration camps–mass extermination and ethnic cleansing–horrors which never should have occurred again after the Second World War–continue to recur.

"For this reason–there is a need to take a fresh look at the convention to try to determine why on the eve of the third millennium the world is still witness to genocide and to discuss the ways and means of prevention and punishment," they added.

The sponsors of the item attached a draft resolution which they proposed for adoption by the General Assembly.

It would reaffirm the significance of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide–which was adopted by the Assembly on December 9–1948.

It would invite states that have not yet ratified it to consider doing so–and call on all states to "increase and intensify their activities aimed at the full implementation of the provisions of the convention."

Governmen’s and the international community would be invited "to continue to review and assess the progress made in the implementation of the convention since its adoption" and to identify obstacles and how they might be overcome.

Governmen’s–the United Nations and other organizations would be invited to disseminate the convention widely–together with other international human rights documen’s–"with a view of ensuring its universality and full and comprehensive implementation."

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