Annan establishes prominent advisory group on genocide prevention

Annan and Desmond Tutu (file photo)

3 May 2006 – Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu of South Africa and the former United Nations Force Commander in Rwanda are among the seven diverse experts appointed today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to provide support to his Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and to contribute to the broader efforts of the UN to prevent such massive crimes against humanity.

The Advisory Committee on Genocide Prevention, composed of senior personalities with backgrounds ranging from conflict prevention to human rights, peacekeeping, diplomacy and mediation, will be chaired by David Hamburg, President Emeritus of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and meet at least twice during this year, with its first meeting scheduled for 19-20 June.

Mr. Annan named Juan Méndez the first Special Adviser on genocide prevention in July 2004, with a mandate to collect existing information on massive and serious violations of human rights that could lead to genocide and to bring potential genocidal situations to the attention of the UN Security Council.

Among his activities, Mr. Méndez has made repeated visits to Darfur, resulting in varied recommendations to the Secretary-General and to the Security Council about what needs to be done in the strife-torn region.

On the 12-year commemoration of the Rwanda genocide, Mr. Mendez wrote an Op-Ed published by several European and Asian newspapers in which he stressed that despite international obligations – such as the 1948 Genocide Convention – the global response against genocide continues to fall short of what is required.

“We cannot claim to have learned the lessons of the 1994 Rwandan genocide if our action in the face of genocidal violence remains half-hearted. Action is particularly needed in Darfur, where the threat of genocide continues to loom large,” he wrote.

Other members of the Advisory Committee include:

  • Monica Anderson, of the Department for International, Human Rights and Treaty Law of Sweden's Foreign Ministery
  • Zackari Ibrahim, former Foreign Minister of Nigeria
  • Romeo Dallaire of Canada, former UN Force Commander in Rwanda
  • Gareth Evans, President of the International Crisis Group and former Foreign Minister of Australia
  • Roberto Garreton of Chile, former representative for the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Latin America and Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Sadako Ogata of Japan, former High Commissioner of Refugees, currently co-chair of the Commission on Human Security.

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