I am honoured to join, on behalf of GAAMAC, all those who raise their voice today to commemorate and pay tribute to the victims and survivors of genocide.
On this day, we mark the 72nd anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, a milestone for the international community in its commitment to “never again” allow atrocities.
This landmark convention laid the foundation of modern international criminal justice as it recognized genocide as an international crime for the first time and built upon the statement famously included in the Nuremberg judgment that “crimes are committed by persons, not by abstract entities.”
The Convention, adopted in the aftermath of the Second World War, is inextricably linked to the creation of international courts and tribunals at the end of the 20th century. It took many decades to implement the Convention and it has not yet attained universal ratification. Still, there is indeed much to celebrate in the quest for accountability for the gravest international crimes since its adoption by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948.
However, despite the peremptory nature of the prohibition to commit genocide and the general recognition of the need to prevent and suppress it, atrocity crimes continue to happen today, at this very moment, in various regions of the world and structural vulnerabilities continue to put our societies at risk.
The Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to exposing such vulnerabilities and has exacerbated social, economic and political divisions in our communities. Xenophobia, discrimination and other forms of intolerance and exclusion are on the rise and their dissemination is being facilitated by digital technologies.
It is clear that much more needs to be done to prevent genocide and other atrocity crimes effectively. It is crucial that we redouble our efforts to promote the universal ratification and implementation of the Genocide Convention. It is also essential that we also identify, understand and address in each of our countries the underlying causes and processes that may result in atrocity crimes on a permanent basis, through education, remembrance and appropriate policies and mechanisms, before they escalate into conflict and violence.
Effective action against genocide and massive crimes requires collaboration and coordination of the global community as a whole. It requires effective action by states, international and regional organizations as well as civil society organizations, including the private sector and academia.
GAAMAC, together with its partners and friends, reiterates its commitment to engage with and contribute to the efforts of all those who undertake initiatives, at the international and national level to prevent massive crimes against populations.
Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi