GENEVA—Armenia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian spoke on Friday at the 25th session of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, devoted to the 65th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
In his speech, Nalbandian told international delegates that, as survivors of a catastrophic genocide, the Armenian people, more than anyone, have utmost interest in eradicating genocide and crimes against humanity from the world.
Nalbandian also stressed that punishment of crimes against humanity and genocide is of paramount importance for the prevention of it in the future.
“The Armenian people, as a nation that survived the first genocide of the 20th century, feel a strong moral responsibility to bring their contributions to international efforts in the prevention of crimes against humanity,” Nalbandian said.
The foreign minister added: “Genocide prevention requires the development of both enforcement and preventive measures. If genocide is committed, the perpetrators should have no doubt whatsoever that they will definitely be held responsible. On May 24th, 1915 in a special declaration the Allied Powers – Russia, France and Great Britain – warned the perpetrators of the atrocities against the Armenian people that they would be held personally responsible for ‘these new crimes of Turkey against humanity and civilization,’ from which the modern concept of Crimes against Humanity entered the international legal system.”
Edward Nalbandian also reminded the Council that the topic at hand, namely genocide prevention and justice, is deeply ingrained in Armenians’ worldview, representing the single most tragic page of Armenian history.
“Raphael Lemkin, the author of the term “genocide,” while defining the crime of genocide, referred to the very policy of mass extermination perpetrated against Armenians,” Nalbandian said. “Lemkin dedicated his life to the study of crimes against humanity, which, among others, paved the way for the adoption of the 1948 Convention.”
Nalbandian stressed that the prevention of genocide must focus on early warning systems, keeping a close watch for any signs of a coming human rights crisis. Nalbandian noted that, moreover, in order for early detection to be useful, effective and concrete measures for the deterrence of genocide must also be in place.
Nalbandian added that, lastly, education, recognition and, most importantly, punishment of past genocides are imperative to the prevention of genocide in the future.
“New generations should be taught the history of past tragedies, past genocides,” Nalbandian said. “The acknowledgement and condemnation of committed genocides are one of the most effective tools for their prevention in the future.
“Non-acknowledgement or willful ignorance of genocide, which is otherwise called denial, along with impunity pave the way for the repetition of new crimes against humanity. Independent of geopolitical or other interests, the international community should stand together in the recognition, condemnation and punishment of past genocides…in their efforts towards its prevention in the future,” Nalbandian said.
“The remembrance days of the victims of genocides, Mets Yeghern, Shoah, remembrance days in Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur and other genocides should be days of mourning not only for the descendents of victims, but for the descendents of the perpetrators,” the foreign minister urged. “These days should be approached with willingness to move towards recognition and reconciliation. True reconciliation does not mean forgetting the past or feeding younger generations with tales of denial.”
Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian concluded his speech by retorting Turkish disagreements with his remarks about the Armenian Genocide, inviting the Turkish delegate to address his concerns to Russia, France, and Great Britain, who called on Ottoman leaders to stop their crimes against humanity, and to the many countries who have recognized those acts for what they were, a genocide.