Every year, the GAAMAC Steering Group convenes a retreat to engage in reflection and strategic planning. This October, the Steering Group gathered in Geneva and virtually in discussions around the Vision 2022-2024 implementations. The gathering marked the last retreat for the outgoing Chair of GAAMAC at that time, Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, and was the platform for the introduction of the Chair-elect, Christian Guillermet Fernández, and Mr. George Amoh, representing Ghana, the newest Steering Group member.
On the first day of the retreat, the Steering Group members discussed strategies for broadening the network and engagement among States. The Co-chairs of the Asia Pacific Working Group and the Chair of the Africa Working Group build-on the discussion by showcasing the impact accomplished in increasing awareness of and support for early and permanent atrocity prevention. Some highlighted activities towards this goal included the successful regional dissemination of the report Preventing Hate Speech, Incitement and Discrimination, launched by GAAMAC’s Asia-Pacific Working Group in 2021, and the First Regional Forum for Atrocity Prevention by the GAAMAC Africa Working Group in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in September 2023. The session allowed to share experiences and ideas, and so to enhance the connections between the Working Groups. The session on showcasing results and forecasting activities and synergies culminated with the presentation of the activities organized this year by GAAMAC’s partner, the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, under the umbrella of the Thematic Initiative.
The last session of day one welcomed Karine Sujayan, the Head of the Human Rights and Humanitarian Issues Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, a GAAMAC partner, who provided updated information to the Steering group about the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh. In the following, Mario Buil-Merce, from the UN Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect, presented to the group the activities and initiatives around the 75th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
The first day was concluded with a reception to thank the outgoing Chair. The reception also allowed the diplomatic and international communities in Geneva to continue their interactions and discussions with the Chair and the Steering group members.
On day two, Mr. Karel Fracapane, Program Specialist at UNESCO, an Informal Alliance of GAAMAC, participated virtually and shared with the Steering Group updates about the initiatives of UNESCO on genocide education. He reinforced the need for strengthening the connection between education and atrocity prevention.
The Steering group concluded its deliberations with the adoption of a roadmap of benchmarks to be accomplished next year to further concretize GAAMAC’s impact on the ground.