Guterres: invest in genocide prevention and accountability

Children of genocide survivors and perpetrators in a reconciliation village in Rwanda Children of genocide survivors and perpetrators in a reconciliation village in Rwanda AP/Ben Curtis

09 December 2020

Guterres underlines the importance of recognising the warning signs of genocide, and of making perpetrators accountable for their crimes

On December 9, in occasion of the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the victims of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime, Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), has released a message calling for further efforts to prevent this crime and to defend the human dignity of victims.

The International Day has been commemorated since the adoption of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by the General Assembly of the UN in 1948. The Convention represents the first human rights treaty adopted by the General Assembly, showing clearly that the prevention of this crime is one of the core principles the Organization is founded on. In his message, Guterres highlights the importance of recognising and addressing the warning signs that always precede genocide, such as discrimination, hate speech and violence. Recognizing and addressing these signs promptly remains a challenge, he affirms. For this reason, he calls for joint efforts not only by governments, but also social media platforms, technology companies as well as civil society and religious leaders. 

Providing effective accountability, justice and remedy for victims is key to ensure that their rights are protected, and their needs are fully met, including material and psychological ones, often neglected. In this regard, he praises the role of special national mechanisms as well as of international tribunals set up within the UN system. He also commends the work of investigative bodies of the Security Council, General Assembly, and Human Rights Council, such as commissions of inquiry, crucial to investigate this crime. Finally, he underlines the extremely important contribution of civil society in calling for justice and accountability for perpetrators, who too often remain unpunished. 

As genocide has a deep and long-lasting impact on a community as a whole, which can affect also the future generations, harder and coordinated efforts need to be put in place to safeguard the rights of people at risk, to challenge the polarization that is affecting our societies and to provide effective justice to victims. 


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Author: Alessia Rossinotti

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