The world must be serious about saying “never again” to genocide

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A Muslim grieving over his son’s grave in Vitez, Bosnia and Herzegovina. UN Photo/John Isaac

People everywhere must be serious about saying “never again” to genocide, the UN deputy chief has warned.

Jan Eliasson shared this message on the second International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.

It’s been set aside as a day to pay tribute to the memory of the victims and reaffirm the world’s pledge to prevent such atrocities.

Andita Listyarini reports.

Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” set the tone for the solemn event to mark the 68th anniversary of the Genocide Convention, followed by a minute of silence in memory of the victims.

The Convention was adopted on 9 December 1948, following the horrors of World War II, making genocide a crime under international law.

And yet, the Deputy Secretary-General noted, individuals and communities in places continue to suffer extreme acts of violence targeted because of who they are and the circumstances into which they are born.

Jan Eliasson called on governments and people to make a pledge to break cycles of violence and build a future free of genocide as the authors of the Genocide Convention intended.

“Genocide does not happen from one day to the next, it is a process that unfolds over time with gradual deterioration and escalation. And that is why we must always be alert to early warning signs. I think of human rights abuses, I think of conflicts taking on a really dangerous trend now, taking on an increasingly racial, ethnic and religious dimension.”

These situations have occurred recently in places like the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and elsewhere, Mr Eliasson stressed.

The physical and emotional consequences of these crimes are felt for generations by the survivors, the families and the society at large, he said.

Andita Listyarini, United Nations.

Duration: 1’54”

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