UN rights expert calls for greater efforts to prevent genocide News
UN rights expert calls for greater efforts to prevent genocide

[JURIST] As part of the 70th anniversary commemoration [official website] of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp (USHMM backgrounder), UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson [official website] on Wednesday called for an examination of why genocide continues to be perpetrated in some parts of the world. Titled “Why Have We Failed in Preventing Genocides and How to Change That?,” the panel discussion was held at UN Headquarters in New York and hosted by the Permanent Mission of Poland to the UN [official website]. During his opening remarks [text], Eliasson urged those in attendance to reflect on past genocides [activist organization backgrounder] and “how we can better prevent and protect our world from becoming, once again, the setting for the kinds of horrific crimes we witnessed during the Holocaust, in the killing fields of Cambodia, and during the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica” and also to consider why “we continue to fail to prevent mass atrocities.” As part of his plea, Eliasson urged the nations in attendance, including the US, Russia, the UK, Germany and Israel, to observe warning signs, to educate youth to reject discrimination and to support fellow States in reacting to and preventing such atrocities. The keystone of the commemoration, the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, will take place on January 27.

Genocide [JURIST news archive] continues to be a reality in various locations throughout the world. Earlier this month the UN published a report [JURIST report] stating the acts committed in the Central African Republic constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity but not genocide. Also earlier this month the war crimes division of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina confirmed the indictment [JURIST report] of Dragomir Vasic on charges of genocide. In October a special tribunal in Bangladesh sentenced [JURIST report] Jamaat-e-Islami leader Motiur Rahman Nizami to death for crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War with Pakistan. The former cabinet minister was tried on charges that included genocide, rape, murder and torture, and was accused of personally carrying out or ordering the deaths of nearly 600 Bangladeshis while serving as supreme commander of the Al-Badr militia. Also in October the first trial judging charges of genocide against Cambodia’s 1970s Khmer Rouge regime opened [JURIST report] with the prosecutor saying it will show that Cambodians were enslaved in inhumane conditions that led to the deaths of 1.7 million people from starvation, disease and execution.