GENEVA—Armenia’s Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan delivered the opening remarks at the High-Level Panel on 70th Anniversary of the Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“Having in mind the upcoming 70th Anniversary of the Convention this coming December 9, I want to acknowledge and pay tribute to Raphael Lemkin, a profound lawyer who had dedicated his entire life to challenging and confronting the right to kill behind the thick curtain of sovereignty, elaborating the legal term of genocide and endorsing international responsibility upon sovereign states to protect their populations from the crime of genocide,” said Mnatsakanyan in his remarks.
“Of course, I want also to pay tribute to every single national and international activist, advocate, expert and practitioner of the difficult challenge to stand up and prevent atrocities, massive crimes and genocides. I want to recall, in particular, Benjamin Whitaker, who back in 1985 in a landmark document, known as the ‘Whitaker report,’ for the first time initiated the idea of establishing an impartial international body concerned with the prevention of genocide. Unfortunately it took a long time and more genocides to occur before the international community took heed of what the late Secretary General Kofi Annan termed ‘complicity with evil’ and endorsed, back in 2004, his proposal for tangible, yet still modest mechanisms for the prevention of genocide,” added Mnatsakanyan.
This is the 21st century. We mark 70 years since we have adopted the Convention and committed never again to allow this crime to happen. We have uttered ‘Never Again’ so many times since, yet genocides have not been fenced off. Tendencies of radicalism, exclusion and hatred are rattling the international agenda. Particularly troubling is the conspicuous decline in the international commitment to multilateralism and respect for human rights at a time when we need more international cooperation and stronger institutions for this, especially the United Nations,” explained the foreign minister.
Genocides may not be occurring too often, but seldom as they may be, they are the ultimate crime. Lemkin’s argument to the sceptics of the need to legislate such crimes has been about the permanent loss of a group targeted with genocides, while the survivors of genocide would be forever deprived of an invaluable part of their identity. We know this from experience.
“Armenia has been consistently promoting the recognition of the importance and priority of early prevention, which entails sufficient capacity to detect, monitor and address early warning signs of situations, which, if not addressed, may lead to deteriorations beyond control and all the way to the perpetration of massive crimes. Early prevention means early action. Prevention first of all implies legal and institutional capacity, firmly based on political and moral responsibility to protect and promote basic human rights and freedoms for all within the jurisdiction of states,” said Mnatsakanyan.
“The international community and the UN system should be resolute in reacting to all patterns of discrimination and targeting of vulnerable groups, to hate speech, radicalism and incitement to hatred. Denialism and impunity are fundamental obstacles to prevention. Justice denied haunts generations of genocide survivors and obstructs genuine reconciliation,” asserted Mnatsakanyan.
“By having established a Global Forum Against the Crime of Genocide back in 2015, Armenia offers a solid platform for international co-operation for the prevention of genocide. The third Global Forum to take place in Yerevan on December 9, 2018 will gather a prominent list of scholars and practitioners of genocide prevention and will particularly focus on the role of education. Armenia is duty bound and resolute to contribute to the collective international effort in prescribing remedies to prevent future genocides. I conclude with the reiteration of a deep conviction that “never again” should be uttered once and for all,” concluded the foreign minister.