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UN: world must respond to warning signs to prevent genocide

A special UN event on Wednesday warned that the world must learn from the consequences of failing to respond to the events in Rwanda that preceded the genocide [UN backgrounder] there 20 years ago in order to prevent such things from happening in the future. Speaking to attendees at UN Headquarters in New York, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson [official profile] emphasized [UN News Centre report] the importance of remembering the collective failure to prevent the Rwanda genocide, calling the phrase "never again" a sign of continued failure in itself. He went on to cite [text] Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's [official profile] "Rights up Front" Action Plan [UN backgrounder], which seeks to strengthen the UN's ability to prevent large scale violations of human rights. The concepts guiding the plan include the idea of prevention as a common responsibility of the entire UN system, the need for the UN system to operate as one, the importance of early action and the crucial nature of sharing information with member states and national actors about human rights violations. In his statement, Eliasson called the need to address current human rights violations in the Central African Republic and South Sudan particularly urgent.

Many countries have attempted to assist the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in locating and bringing to justice those responsible for war crimes committed during the Rwandan genocide. In November a French appeals court in Paris approved the extradition [JURIST report] of Claude Muhayimana and Innocent Musabyimana, two suspects wanted in connection with the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In April French law enforcement officials arrested [JURIST report] Tite Barahira, a former Rwandan leader, for conspiracy to commit genocide. In January Rwandan genocide suspect Innocent Musabyimana was arrested [JURIST report] in France on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. In December the ICTR convicted [JURIST report] former Rwandan minister Augustin Ngirabatware, sentencing him to 35 years in prison and concluding the tribunal's final trial. Ngirabatware was found guilty on charges of genocide, incitement to commit genocide and rape as a crime against humanity. In July 2012 the ICTR Residual Mechanism began its work [UN News Centre report] assisting with the winding down of the ICTR and assuring that all remaining fugitives of the Rwandan genocide face justice.

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