The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide is mandated to liaise with the United Nations system on activities for the prevention of genocide. He is also mandated to work to enhance the United Nations’ capacity to analyze and manage information regarding genocide or related crimes. The Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, as part of mandated efforts to develop the conceptual, political and operational aspects of this principle, also works to build and strengthen the capacity of the United Nations to prevent and respond to these crimes. Together, they work to build the prevention, early warning and response capacity of Member States, regional and sub-regional organizations and civil society.
The Special Advisers’ Office undertakes this function in a tailored and context-specific way. This means that our capacity-building activities are tailored to suit specific contexts and participants, and to meet particular objectives. The Office also conducts general training seminars for United Nations staff, representatives of government and civil society to promote greater awareness of the causes and processes of atrocity crimes, and build capacities for prevention, early warning and the assessment and management of information. When there is a request for targeted technical assistance, the Office can design specific programs to respond to that request. The Office has in this way provided support for national or regional efforts to design mechanisms for the prevention of genocide and other atrocities, including early warning arrangements. The Office collaborates with other United Nations entities for the organisation of these activities, as well as with Member States and civil society organisations.
Check out some of the projects in which we are involved:
The Latin American Network for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention
The Latin American Network for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention was established in 2012 at the initiative of Argentina and Brazil. It includes 18 States: Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. The Network is designed as a collaborative effort aimed at building national and regional capacities for strengthening policies on the prevention of genocide and other atrocity crimes. Its institutional objectives include the development and implementation of a curriculum on mass atrocity prevention in compulsory training programmes for government officials, the promotion of regional cooperation on this topic, and the development of national initiatives for genocide prevention in each Member State.
The initiative is supported by the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) which serves as the secretariat of the Network, the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, and from the Stanley Foundation. Within the Network, each State is expected to appoint one or more focal points, who are tasked to identify areas of work and possible activities to be conducted in implementation of national agendas on atrocity crimes prevention. The Network also organises regular gatherings of focal points from all participating States. These meetings serve as an opportunity to exchange information and experiences on ongoing activities as well as to plan possible joint actions.
In his fifth report on the responsibility to protect, which was issued in 2015, the UN Secretary-General explicitly referred to the experience of the Latin American Network as a leading example of “partnership for prevention”. The Office of the UN Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect has accompanied and supported a range of activities of the Network since its inception in 2012. These include the co-organisation of the dedicated Latin American editions of the Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention.
ICGLR’s Regional and National Committees on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity and all forms of Discrimination
In 2006, the Member States of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) (Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia), adopted the Protocol for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and all Forms of Discrimination (the Protocol). Under the Protocol, Member States are required to domesticate and enforce its provisions by putting in place laws that will prevent and punish genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity; take measures that will eliminate discrimination; teach and encourage tolerance among national, racial and ethnic groups; combat impunity and extradite criminals.
The Protocol also established a mechanism for monitoring these obligations in the form of a Regional Committee composed of representatives from each Member State. The Regional Committee is mandated to regularly review situations and can alert the Summit of Heads of State or the Regional Inter-ministerial Committee to any situations where there is a threat of atrocity crimes being committed.
The functions of the Regional Committee include: (a) Regularly review situations in Member States for the purposes of preventing genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and discrimination; (b) Collecting and analysing information related to genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and discrimination; (c) Alerting the Summit of the Conference in good time in order to take urgent measures to prevent potential conflicts; (d) Suggesting specific measures to effectively fight impunity for these crimes; (e) Contributing to raising awareness and education on peace and reconciliation through regional and national programs; and (f) Recommending measures to safeguard victims’ rights.
The Protocol also requires each ICGLR Member State to establish a National Committee for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity and all Forms of Discrimination. So far, eight ICGLR Member States have established National Committees, namely the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan (which joined the ICGLR when it became independent in 2011), Tanzania and Uganda. The Office has been providing funding, technical support and training to the national committees that have been established since 2010, with the exception of Rwanda, which had a Commission in place with a similar function before the establishment of the Regional Committee. The training aims to develop the knowledge of members of national committees regarding the most serious international crimes, namely genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and how they can be prevented. The Office’s Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes is used to help members of the committees to identify elements of these crimes, the processes as well as the risk factors associated with the crimes and measures that can be taken to prevent them. The Office has also extended its support to national committees with the implementation of activities identified in the work plans established when each committee was launched, and which normally aim to contribute to preventative work within respective national frameworks.
Lemkin Seminar – Global Edition
The Global Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention takes its name from Raphael Lemkin (1900–1959), the Polish Jewish lawyer who coined the term “genocide” and spearheaded the campaign in the United Nations for the ratification of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948. The Seminar, which takes place yearly, is creating a community of government officials educated on genocide prevention policy strategies and who support each other in identifying best practices for dealing with the process of genocide and other atrocity crimes.
The Seminar is organized by the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation in partnership with the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Each week-long program brings together twenty to twenty-five government officials from at least fifteen States ranging from at-risk, in crisis, and post conflict States, to donor countries and those inactive in the international human rights arena. The Seminar welcomes participants who have professional responsibilities in relevant areas, including atrocity prevention, human rights, international criminal justice, among others.
The location of the Global Lemkin Seminar at the former German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oświęcim, Poland, allows participants to immerse themselves both emotionally and intellectually in the topic of genocide. Through the “power of place,” participants are provided with the opportunity to make a personal investment and commitment to the field of genocide prevention. Following the Seminar, there is a continuous engagement with the participants and several partnerships and cooperation projects have resulted as a result of these exchanges.