GAAMAC participates in Human Rights Council intersessional meeting on the prevention of genocide

17 February 2021
The Human Rights Council convened a one-day intersessional meeting on the “prevention of genocide” in Geneva

On 10 February 2021, the Human Rights Council convened a one-day intersessional meeting on the “prevention of genocide” in Geneva (and online) to bring together “States, relevant United Nations and regional human rights mechanisms, United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, national human rights institutions and other stakeholders, including academic experts and civil society organizations” as requested by the Council in resolution 43/29 adopted on 29 June 2020.

The meeting consisted in a dialogue on cooperation in strengthening capacities for the prevention of genocide with a view to sharing good practices, achievements, challenges and lessons learned. Several members of GAAMAC’s community participated in the meeting in different ways, including GAAMAC’s Chair Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, GAAMAC Steering Group members, as well as GAAMAC partners and members of the Africa Working Group.

In the first session on “Strengthening national capacities for the prevention of genocide”, Denmark delivered a joint statement on behalf of Argentina, Costa Rica and Switzerland as GAAMAC Steering Group members. GAAMAC’s role as a unique space “to interact and produce new ideas which help to generate concrete initiatives in the field of atrocity prevention” was highlighted, as well as the crucial role of the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms in the prevention of human rights violations.

The statement concluded with an invitation to other governments to join “in strengthening national architectures to prevent atrocity crimes: establish or reinforce a national mechanism, appoint a focal point for the responsibility to protect or become a partner to GAAMAC”. The first panel included remarks by Africa Working Group member Judge Jamila Mohamed, Chairperson, National Committee on the Prevention of Genocide in Kenya and Ms Velma Saric, President, Post-Conflict Research Center, a GAAMAC partner.

“By focusing on prevention as a permanent endeavour, GAAMAC seeks to contribute to move from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention” – Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, GAAMAC Chair

The second session on “Promoting States’ participation in regional and sub-regional initiatives for the prevention of genocide” was moderated by Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, GAAMAC Chair. In her introduction, she gave the example of GAAMAC’s Regional Initiatives in Africa, the Americas and Asia Pacific as “complementary and supportive of prevention efforts deployed by existing regional mechanisms”.

In the panel discussion, Ms Julissa Mantilla, Commissioner, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Organization of American States; Ms Yuyun Wahyuningrum, Representative of Indonesia, ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights; and Ms Kristin de Peyron, Director, Deputy Managing Director, Human Rights, Global and Multilateral Issues, European External Action Service recalled among other issues the importance of remembrance, transitional justice and addressing the precursors of violence such as the need to fight against intolerance and hate speech. “Prevention needs to start at home and it is also the responsibility of the community as a whole”, concluded Judge Fernández.

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