ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

News & Media

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DISCUSSES THE PREVENTION OF GENOCIDE
7 March 2014

The Human Rights Council today discussed the prevention of genocide, holding a high-level panel discussion dedicated to the sixty-fifth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, followed by an interactive dialogue with Adama Dieng, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide.

Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, opened the panel discussion, saying that genocide and other mass atrocities were never unleashed without warning but were the culmination of a long period of human rights violations.  She stressed the importance of accountability and deterrence and called on States to take measures to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of genocide.

Also in opening remarks, Edward Nalbandian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, recalled the three pillars of genocide prevention: early warning, human rights protection and public campaign of education and awareness.  Denial and impunity paved the way for new crimes against humanity and all must stand together in the recognition, condemnation and punishment of past genocides.

Panellists in today’s discussion were Esther Mujawayo, Sociologist, author and a Rwanda Genocide survivor; Adama Dieng, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide; and Jonathan Sisson, Senior Advisor, Task force for dealing with the past and prevention of atrocities, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. 

Ms. Mujawayo recalled the tragic events of 7 April 1994 and the 100 days of killing in Rwanda in which one million Tutsis perished.  She shared the tragic testimony of a survivor, the guilt and sorrow.  For the genocide to be made possible and to kill one million people in 100 days meant that all societal values must be done with and that everyone must kill, men, women and children.

Mr. Dieng said that genocide and crimes against humanity were not single events that happened overnight but processes that required planning and underwent different stages.  The current lack of a dedicated monitoring body for the implementation of the provisions of the Convention might encourage some States to ignore the responsibilities they had assumed under the Convention, including the responsibility to prevent.

Mr. Sisson said that although the Convention provided an important framework for accountability after genocide, the challenges were the difficulty to prove genocidal intent and the lack of timely political decisions to prevent genocide.  Dealing with the past was a pre-requisite for prevention and concerted efforts to deal with the past could serve to address fundamental grievances and build trust in public institutions. 

In the ensuing discussion speakers stressed that the Convention provided a clear definition of genocide.  This anniversary was an opportunity to reflect steps ahead in the fight against impunity and also how to further prevent the crime of genocide.  A speaker suggested that a clear distinction between prevention and response would strengthen the elimination of genocide, while others stressed that raising awareness and sharing lessons learned were key to the success of both national and international efforts designed to prevent and punish this crime.  Several delegations said that the specificity of genocide was that there were detective signals before, which presented a chance of timely response. 

Speaking in the panel discussion were Sierra Leone, European Union, Ethiopia (on behalf of the African Group), Cuba (on behalf of the Like-Minded Group), Argentina, Estonia, Chile, Turkey, Brazil, Australia, Montenegro, Portugal, Costa Rica (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), New Zealand, Egypt, Rwanda, Morocco, Azerbaijan, International Committee of the Red Cross, Poland, Venezuela, Slovenia, Netherlands, Spain, Algeria, United States, Liechtenstein, Belgium, Sudan, Madagascar and Hungary. 

The following non-governmental organizations also addressed the Council: Indian Council of South America, World Environment Council, European Union of Public Relations, National Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists and the International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination. 

The Human Rights Council then opened its agenda item on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, and held an interactive dialogue with Adama Dieng, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide. 

In his opening remarks Mr. Dieng said his mandate had been established 10 years ago as a result of the failure to prevent genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica.  Since then, there had been increased emphasis on the importance of prevention of atrocity crimes, but remaining challenges were significant.  Efforts must be focused on early prevention and not only on responding to situations where the risk of genocide was imminent like in the Central African Republic, or where atrocity crimes were ongoing such as in Syria.  Once situations were placed on the agenda of the Security Council, like Syria, the world had failed in its duty to prevent and had already failed the Syrian people.

In the ensuing interactive dialogue with Mr. Dieng, speakers stressed that preventing mass atrocities was not limited to the implementation of the Convention, but also required using tools to identify early warning signs and indicators.  A speaker said that the “responsibility to protect” had been the most important development in the efforts to prevent genocide, stressing that the main challenge was how to put this principle into practice and ensure its realization.  Delegations warned that currently there were several situations in the world that could descend into genocide if important measures were not taken by the international community.  

Taking the floor in the interactive dialogue with the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide were the European Union, Morocco, Ethiopia (on behalf of the African Group), United States, China, Australia, Mexico, Bangladesh, Armenia, Ireland, Ecuador and Turkey.

Also speaking were the following non-governmental organizations: Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation, France Libertes and the International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

At the end of the meeting, Iraq spoke in a right of reply.

The Human Rights Council will meet on Monday, 10 March at 9 a.m., when it is scheduled to hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders.


High-level Panel Discussion Marking the Sixty-fifth Anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

Opening Statements

NAVI PILLAY, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was the first human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations, in 1948.  It remained a sombre and urgent document, Ms. Pillay said, encouraging States that had not yet done so to become party to it and ensure its universal implementation.  The prohibition of genocide was not an ordinary rule in international law, it was jus cogens, a fundamental principle.  Every State must ensure that its agencies and officials did not commit acts of genocide.  They also had a legal obligation to take all measures within their power to prevent genocide.  Concerning root causes, Ms. Pillay said genocide and other mass atrocities were never unleased without warning but were the culmination of a long period of human rights violations, whether civil, cultural, economic, political or social.   Discrimination laid the ground for violence and persecution, de-humanisation of entire communities and ultimately genocide.  The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had identified key factors that may lead to genocide and which needed to be acted upon immediately.

Human rights mechanisms and United Nations entities may play a role in monitoring signs that indicated discrimination and violence were sweeping into society, and by focusing the international community’s attention.  The High Commissioner said the Secretary-General’s ‘Rights Up Front’ initiative, if fully implemented, could assist the international community in its solemn duty to prevent genocide and other mass atrocity crimes.  Concerning the fight against impunity and its role in the prevention of genocide, Ms. Pillay said accountability was vital to assuring victims’ right to effective remedy and that international and hybrid tribunals had been created to ensure accountability and deterrence, notably the International Court of Justice.  International justice, however, should be the last resort and avoid politicization, States should take measures to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of genocide.  Genocide was the ultimate crime and the international community should protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law in order to prevent it.

EDWARD NALBANDIAN, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, said Armenia, as the nation that survived the first genocide of the twentieth century, felt a great moral responsibility to contribute to international efforts in prevention of crimes against humanity.  Despite the fact that the Convention on Genocide was adopted in 1948, new genocides and new crimes against humanity were being committed.  From Cambodia to Rwanda to Darfur the terrible phenomenon of genocide continued.  Genocide was a complex phenomenon.  Its prevention must be based on an accurate understanding of the history of genocide and the readiness to learn from past failures.  Genocide prevention required the development of both enforcement and preventive measures.  Perpetrators of genocide must be held responsible.  The Human Rights Council Resolution of 22 March 2013 envisaged preventive measures, all of which were unanimous on the three pillars of genocide prevention, which were early warning, human rights protection, and public education and awareness campaigns.  The acknowledgement and condemnation of committed genocides were one of the most effective tools for their prevention in the future.  Denial and impunity paved the way for new crimes against humanity.  The international community must stand together in the recognition, condemnation and punishment of past genocides.

Statements by the Panellists

ESTHER MUJAWAYO, sociologist, author and survivor of the Rwanda Genocide, said this April would mark 20 years since the Rwandan genocide, which had started on Easter Sunday.  In a moving testimony Ms. Mujawayo recalled the lead-up to the genocide, saying that tensions were felt months before it happened, with radio stations playing catchy songs that called for the extermination of the Tutsis.  On 7 April the killings started everywhere; nowhere was safe for Tutsis.  Ms. Mujawayo held up a photo of her extended family, only herself and her niece had survived, all the others were killed.  She said she survived, but asked how you could survive when you had lost everyone.  Ms. Mujawayo said the photos of her family that she had managed to keep were a reminder that she was the only person who had survived.  She continued to live in a vacuum; she had survived but was not alive.  Ms. Mujawayo said she suffered from survivor’s guilt which was compounded by not being able to bury the bodies of her loved ones.  Genocide was made possible when all societal values were dispensed with.  Killing one million people in 100 days meant that everyone had been involved and everyone killed, not only men but women and children too.  Even the churches, traditional sanctuaries, became slaughterhouses.  God had abandoned them.  The Rwandan society was completely blown apart and everything had changed.  Forty five years after the Convention came into force, the genocide in Rwanda had happened.  Ms. Mujawayo asked the Council what was being done to restore justice.

ADAMA DIENG, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, said 65 years after the adoption of the Convention it was unfortunate to see how essential it still was.  The question of how to better prevent genocide and other atrocities was at the core of the lessons-learned exercises conducted after the failure to prevent or halt the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica.  In 2004 the Secretary General presented an Action Plan to Prevent Genocide and appointed a Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide to act as an early warning mechanism.  In 2005, Member States had made a landmark commitment at the United Nations World Summit, affirming their responsibility to protect populations by preventing genocide war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.  The Human Rights Council had an important role to play in prevention. The Council should endeavour to anticipate the risk of atrocity crimes and engage at an early stage to pre-empt the escalation of tensions into potentially genocidal violence.   Mr. Dieng invited the Council to adopt the Framework of Analysis developed by his Office to assess the risk of atrocity crimes.  Genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity were not single events that happened overnight but processes that required planning, resources and underwent different stages.  The Framework identified risk factors relevant to assess the risk of genocide and other atrocity crimes, providing opportunities to develop effective prevention strategies.  Mr. Dieng also encouraged the Council to discuss how the implementation of the Genocide Convention could be better monitored.  There was no dedicated body to monitor implementation of the Genocide Convention, which may encourage some States to ignore the responsibilities they had assumed under it, including the responsibility to prevent genocide. 

JONATHAN SISSON, Senior Advisor, task force for dealing with the past and prevention of atrocities, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, said the adoption of the Genocide Convention marked a historical milestone in the path towards prevention and accountability.  Nevertheless two outstanding challenges were faced.  The Convention provided an important framework for accountability after genocide but national and international courts had found it difficult to prove genocidal intent.  The knowledge and experience accumulated by the community of practitioners and policy makers in the field of genocide prevention since 1948 was considerable.  In general, however, that knowledge was not followed by consequent and timely political decisions to prevent genocide.  Everyone was familiar with the promise of ‘never again’.  Yet, it was known that it would happen again, unless there was a vigorous response to transform the perverse dynamics of mass atrocity.  Dealing with the past was a pre-requisite for prevention.  Concerted efforts to deal with past could serve to address fundamental grievances and build trust in public institutions.  Without such efforts, prevention policies would lack credibility. 

Interactive Discussion

Estonia said the Convention on Genocide and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were the cornerstones of human rights and the basis of international law.  Turkey said the Convention provided a clear definition of genocide, was the main and most legitimate instrument at our disposal and had to remain as the general framework for our efforts.  Sierra Leone said that raising awareness and sharing lessons learned were key to the success of both national and international efforts designed to prevent and punish the crime of genocide, a fundamental aim of the international community.  European Union said the Convention had marked a milestone.  Another landmark was the 2005 summit where States recognized the Responsibility to Protect, the European Union said, asking to what extent African regional mechanisms could contribute to the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect.

Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that a number of conflicts around the world today carried the traits of escalation to genocide.  Since the Rwandan Genocide, the African Union had enshrined a number of actions and principles to prevent genocide on the continent.  Argentina said that the role that it played in the prevention of genocide could not be understood without an understanding of the fight against impunity in the country.  Regional fora had been held with countries from different regions of the world, to raise regional and international awareness.  Chile said that the wretched shared history of a large number of Latin American countries that suffered systematic massive violations of human rights during the 1970s and 1980s was a factor that pushed for the establishment of the Latin American Network for the Prevention of Genocide.  Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Like-Minded Group, said that the right to life was one of the non-derogable rights.  Only if all countries respected truth and history and learned from the past would such atrocities be prevented in the future. 

Brazil said a clear distinction between prevention and response would strengthen the elimination of genocide.  Education in the field of human rights, gender equality and combatting torture and other ill-treatments would be an effective way to prevent hatred that could lead to international crimes.  Australia supported the responsibility to protect, as well as efforts to protect victims and ensure reparation.  Australia also underlined the importance of regional cooperation.  Montenegro said it believed in the importance of propagating information on the Convention against Genocide, to identify root causes and early signs of genocide and to address impunity.  Montenegro strongly supported the “Rights Up Front” initiative, as well as other similar regional level initiatives.  Portugal said that the Convention on Genocide’s implementation was crucial to eradicate genocide.  Each individual State had the responsibility to protect its population from genocide.  The United Nations had the ability to work on the prevention of genocide and should use all means it could to do that. 

Indian Council of South America underlined the vulnerability of indigenous peoples, and demanded that States’ sovereignty was not used to prevent accountability.  World Environment Council regretted the inability of the United Nations to prevent some past genocides, adding that genocide resulted from long-term and deliberate processes.   European Union of Public Relations said genocide was always born of a failure to understand that all humans were brothers.  The deliberate distortion of education and public information that could fuel hatred and lead to genocide.  It was important to involve local charities in genocide prevention. 

ESTHER MUJAWAYO, sociologist, author and survivor of the Rwanda Genocide, said society and civil society could make enormous contributions to preventing genocide, particularly in raising awareness and early warnings.  The imperative was for the political will to be in place and act on those warnings.  States parties to the 1948 Convention had an obligation to fulfil their responsibilities but currently there were no consequences for non-respect of its provisions.  The consequences of genocide and crimes against humanity were long reaching and echoed through generations

ADAMA DIENG, Special Adviser of the Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide, spoke about what the Human Rights Council could do to prevent genocide, and suggested the Council use a tool developed by his Office, the Framework for Analysis of Genocide, which was applicable to all worrying situations.  The establishment of Commissions of Inquiry was another important consideration.  Strengthening of the preventative process was important too, for example through dialogues and exchanges on the margins of the Council.  It was also important to fight impunity and ensure accountability. 

JONATHAN SISSON, Senior Advisor, Task force for dealing with the past and prevention of atrocities, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, spoke about the role of the Human Rights Council and existing mechanisms for prevention, particularly in the area of early warning, such as reporting to treaty bodies.  The field presence of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in many countries was an important element.  Collaboration with civil society, such as through civil society forums, could be useful.  Civil society was important in advocating and promoting the search for missing persons, and also in the area of justice where it took part in trial monitoring.

Costa Rica, on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said the international community had made progress in preventing and sanctioning genocide.  All available mechanisms had to be used to prevent that crime from occurring and to prevent impunity.  Future cases of genocide could be avoided by identifying early warnings and preventing conflicts, and through education.  New Zealand said prevention was an essential pillar of the global response.  New Zealand asked in which institutional areas improvements were the most needed.  The responsibility to engage in prevention work had to be shared throughout the United Nations system.  New Zealand underlined the critical role civil society organisations and journalists could play.  Egypt said that States had the responsibility to protect their citizens and to ensure that perpetrators were held accountable.  Egypt encouraged Member States to develop national expertise to enhance the prevention of genocide.

Rwanda said 2014 marked the twentieth anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsis.  It was resolved to ensure that what happened in Rwanda, including the absence of a response by the international community, did not happen again.  Rwanda asked what measures could be undertaken to address the issue of genocide denial.  Morocco said that the Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide was a pillar of the United Nations human rights system, and had to be placed at the heart of the work of the Council.  Accountability of perpetrators was essential.  Morocco regretted that the international community sometimes lacked the will to intervene.  Public awareness-raising on the issues of racism and xenophobia was a mean of prevention.  Azerbaijan denounced the extermination of Azerbaijani by Armenia, which suited the definition of the crime of genocide.  Azerbaijan urged Armenia to recognise officially that genocide had been perpetrated by them. 

International Committee of the Red Cross said that efforts were still needed to enable the full implementation of the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide.  States had to ensure that perpetrators were held accountable, which included military officers being held personally accountable for the actions of their subordinates.  

Sudan said the United Nations General Assembly had already announced that genocide was a clear violation of the right of all peoples to life and to freely exist.  Genocide remained one of the most odious and serious crimes that existed and Sudan reiterated the need to respect human dignity.  Madagascar said that Convention contributed to recall and enhance the human dignity of human beings and respect for human lives.  Slovenia said that the Convention on Genocide remained as valid today as it was 65 years ago.  The adopted threshold of the Convention had proven to be very severe in a number of situations.

Spain said that the anniversary was an opportunity to reflect not just on the need to press ahead on the fight against impunity but on how prevention of the crime of genocide could be pressed on with.  Venezuela said that 65 years ago the United Nations had committed itself to preventing genocide.  However it was seen that such atrocities continued to be committed in the twenty-first century with utter impunity, such as those suffered by the Palestinian people.  Algeria said that the Convention had become a reference for all States to protect their people and right to life.  Despite achievements, there were a number of conflicts today that could lead to violation of the provisions of the Convention. 

Hungary said that the specificity of genocide was that there were detective signals before it and there was a chance of timely response.  Netherlands said that the prosecution of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity were first and foremost a national responsibility.  How could the Council be more involved in ending impunity towards the responsibility to protect at the national level?  Poland said that the crime of genocide was one of the most horrific crimes known to humanity and the international community should not spare any effort to eliminate it.  Genocide did not occur out of the blue and had root causes of a political, economic and social nature.  Liechtenstein said that more had to be done to implement the Convention.  Tribute was paid to the victims of the Rwandan genocide, one of the worst failures of the international community.  The international system had to be changed to improve response.  Belgium said that it had been one of the first States to ratify the Rome Statute. It encouraged all states to designate a national focal point for the responsibility to protect.  United States said the reality of the looming risk of mass atrocities around the world continued to be faced such as in Syria, the Central African Republic, and in the world’s newest nation, South Sudan.  There were reasons to be sober and humble about those challenges.

National Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, said that reviewing the last 65 years, not much had changed and two genocidal events had been witnessed in Rwanda and Srebrenica.  International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination said that some populations were highly exposed to situations of genocide and the situation in Iraq was a good example of that.  It regretted that Permanent Members of the Security Council were sending weapons to Iraq.

Concluding Remarks

EDWARD NALBANDIAN, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, called on Turkey to respect the agreement concerning those who had recognised the genocide committed by the Ottoman authorities against the Armenian people, and highlighted the importance of all provisions of the Convention concerning reparations for victims.  Concerning the Armenian genocide, Mr. Nalbandian noted that several generations of Armenians were still suffering the consequences and had been waiting for reparations and redress.  Concerning the massacres perpetrated by the Azerbaijani forces with political motivations, Mr. Nalbandian said that Baku had to stop using that tragedy as a propaganda tool and for spreading racist ideas.  In conclusion, Mr. Nalbandian said it was clear that there was still work to be done on genocide prevention and that the international community needed efficient solutions.

ESTHER MUJAWAYO, sociologist, author and survivor of the Rwanda Genocide, thanked the Council for the invitation to participate in the panel and to share her experience.  Ms. Mujawayo said that delegations sitting in this room were representatives of States and had decision making power.  She urged them not to forget that there were human beings, just like the ones in the photos she had shown, whose lives depended on the right interventions.  Reflecting on the history of the Rwandan genocide, Ms. Mujawayo said 20 years after the genocide, the survivors should not be abandoned.  Sharing some of her writing, Ms. Mujawayo evoked memories of the victims and the importance of understanding their experience on the basis of a shared sense of humanity.  Nothing should deprive individuals of their humanity, she said, even when they were working in political decision-making.

ADAMA DIENG, Special Adviser of the Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide, reminded the Council that building resilience was key to preventing genocide.  The rule of law should be respected and human rights should be protected without discrimination.  Accountable and credible institutions, at the service of the population, should be created.  Work had to be done to eliminate corruption, which constituted a serious obstacle for the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights.  It was also important to help manage diversity in a constructive manner and to support a strong and diverse civil society.  Mr. Dieng reiterated the value of the framework developed by his office as a tool to assess risk and to build capacity.  Concerning the responsibility to protect, he said it was important to remind States about their responsibilities as well as building capacities for preventing violations. 

JONATHAN SISSON, Senior Advisor, task force for dealing with the past and prevention of atrocities, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, stressed the important role of survivors in providing memory and truth.  He referred to a positive example concerning  sites of conscience in Bangladesh and Argentina on the basis of documentation gathered during and after the conflicts.  It was important to promote memories from the point of view of the victims.  He also warned that memorials could be divisive and a legal framework at a national level should ensure that memorials promoted cohesion rather than an ethicized conflict.  

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide

Statement by the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide

ADAMA DIENG, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, said that the establishment of his mandate 10 years ago had been a direct result of the failure of the United Nations system to prevent genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica and one of the most important accomplishments of the past 10 years had been the increased emphasis on the importance of prevention of atrocity crimes, which included genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The challenges of the mandate were significant.  One was the title of the mandate itself.  No Member State would say it was not interested in preventing genocide.  Genocide was a strong word and a horrendous crime; it did not happen often but when it did happen it had devastating consequences for families, societies, States and regions and global peace and security. 

Prevention started at home and was the responsibility of States; it implied building the resilience of societies to atrocity crimes and ensuring respect for the rule of law and human rights, without discrimination.  Genocide was the result of a series of events that developed over time and required planning and resources and this meant there were multiple opportunities to take preventive action.  Efforts must be focused on early prevention and not only on responding to situations where the risk of genocide was imminent like in the Central African Republic, or where atrocity crimes were ongoing such as in Syria.  The international community must act well before the violence reached such levels; when situations reached a level of crisis that they were placed on the agenda of the Security Council, like Syria, the world had failed in its duty to prevent.

Interactive Dialogue

European Union said that the “responsibility to protect” had been the most important development in the efforts to prevent genocide.  The main question was how to ensure the realization of the “responsibility to protect” and prevention in peaceful times; how to put the principle into practice.  Morocco said that despite legal and normative work carried out, more ambition was needed in collective efforts to address the issue.  There were several situations in the world that could descend into genocide if important measures were not taken by the international community.  

Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, welcomed the capacity building and technical assistance activities of the High Commissioner in the field of genocide prevention.  The African Group called on further partnerships between the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General and regional and local organizations.  The United States said that preventing mass atrocities was not limited to the implementation of the Convention, but also required using tools to identify early warning signs and indicators.  The United States asked how United Nations agencies were working together to implement the framework on genocide prevention.  China called on all States to enhance international cooperation to prevent genocide, with the support of the United Nations.  Protecting the right to life as well as social harmony would reduce the risks of hatred to develop and therefore would limit the chances of genocide to occur.  Australia said it continued to support international and regional efforts to prosecute perpetrators of mass atrocities, particularly in the Pacific region.  Australia asked how prevention tools could be adapted to other international crimes.  Mexico reiterated that States had the responsibility to protect and prevent genocide, and to exercise universal jurisdiction for this crime, and insisted that tackling impunity for this crime was vital.  Mexico underlined the importance of avoiding systematic discrimination targeting certain groups, which could be one of the root causes of genocide.  Bangladesh underlined the importance of holding perpetrators of genocide responsible, and would be happy to share its experience prosecuting the perpetrators of mass atrocities that had occurred there. 

Armenia said that the Office of the Special Adviser had become an important part of preventive diplomacy within the United Nations system and Governments’ political will remained an important factor in prevention; the work of the Office of the Special Adviser would greatly benefit from the establishment of durable cooperation mechanisms.  Ireland  said that the prevention of genocide was central to all three pillars of the “responsibility to protect” and preventive policies would be necessary to succeed in the fulfilment of the goals of the Charter.  Ireland stressed that incidents of genocide started with hate speech, discrimination and marginalisation.  Ecuador expressed support for proposals for the creation of spaces for dialogue and the exchange of experiences; the prevention and punishment should be based on mechanisms that prevented impunity; an important part of the solution should be understanding the root causes on the basis of capacity building and education.  Turkey said that in the long run creating an environment that fostered mutual respect and tolerance was an important aspect of prevention; the Special Adviser’s timely statements on situations of concern played a positive work in promoting awareness.

Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation noted that in many parts civilian populations continued to suffer from crimes against humanity and possible genocide and the international community lacked the political will to take action; the Foundation called on the Council to establish an international commission of inquiry on Sri Lanka.  France Libertes said that genocide was rightly defined as the most hideous crime against humanity but such crimes did not happen overnight; moving from a reactive to a preventive approach was necessary.  How was this possible if civil society warnings were not heeded?  International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination said that despite progress made, recent events in Iraq showed that there was still a road ahead.  The situation had been described as degenerating into genocide, with military operations predicated on the need to combat terrorism and sectarian rhetoric which showed the intent to eliminate a religious group.  The International Organization called on the Council to address this situation.

Concluding Remarks

ADAMA DIENG, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, said in his closing remarks that this type of dialogue with Member States was extremely helpful.  He was pleased that several delegations mentioned the reference tool his Office had developed to fight hate speech and incitement to hatred.  Quoting past experiences in Rwanda and Libya, Mr. Dieng stressed the real need to closely monitor hate speech.  His Office was working closely to see how to engage the discussions on the responsibility to protect within Africa.  Regarding the role of the Human Rights Council in implementation of the “right to protection”, Mr. Dieng stressed its early warning function, reminding States of their responsibilities, including the Universal Periodic Review process.  Concerning the Analysis Framework, it covered the crimes of genocide, war crimes and crime against humanity, which in the framework were defined using their legal definitions, and Mr. Dieng encouraged States and regional organizations to use it.  It was clear that without a vibrant civil society, it would be extremely hard to mobilize action and their involvement was crucial in ensuring accountability and including all sectors of society in decision-making processes.  Kenya was an example where civil society was playing an important role, together with the national committee of genocide prevention.

Right of Reply

Iraq, speaking in a right of reply, said that Iraqi armed forces were more than capable of gaining victory over terrorists, but the Government was reluctant to put the lives and property of civilians at risk; accusations of indiscriminate firing were therefore unfounded.  Iraq had joined the war on terrorism together with the whole world and this was a bloody war which had to be won. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC14/018E