News

ON RWANDA GENOCIDE ANNIVERSARY, UN LEADERS ASK: CAN WORLD MUSTER THE WILL TO PREVENT ATROCITIES?

As the world officially remembers the genocidal murder of 800,000 Rwandans in 1994, United Nations leaders warn that ethnic cleansing and mass atrocities continue to blight humanity and call for sharper action to prevent such wholesale violations. Read More >>

A 14-year-old Rwandan boy from the town of Nyamata, photographed in June 1994, survived the genocidal massacre by hiding under corpses for two days.

VISIT OF SPECIAL ADVISER ON PREVENTION OF GENOCIDE TO BANGLADESH

From 7-13 March 2018 the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide visited Bangladesh to assess the situation of the Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar following incidents of violence in October 2016 and August 2017. His visit focused on what lies ahead for the Rohingya population; how to ensure that the crimes committed against them are not repeated; and how to hold accountable those responsible for the crimes that have been documented. During his visit, the Special Adviser met government officials, the diplomatic community, civil society actors and United Nations colleagues, as well as refugees and members of the host community in Cox’s Bazar.

Read the statement of the Special Adviser
Read the news about the Special Adviser’s mission
Watch the news about the Special Adviser’s mission
Listen to the interview with the Special Adviser about his mission

Newly arrived Rohingya refugees who came to Bangladesh by boat to Shah Porir Dwip, walk with their belongings to the refugee registration and aid distribution point at the Cyclone Centre in Teknaf, Cox's Bazar region.

Vienna meeting on implementation of Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence that Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes

From 12 to 15 February 2018, at the United Nations Office in Vienna, the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect organized a meeting to discuss the implementation of the Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence that Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes. The meeting was attended by more than 200 people, including some 150 religious leaders and actors and over 50-Member States. The meeting resulted in the identification of short and medium-term priorities for implementation of the Plan of Action, including: the establishment of a Global Steering Committee and regional coordination committees; the development of a resource bank and of a Covenant that would highlight religious leaders’ moral responsibility to implement the Plan of Action; and the prioritization of initiatives with a focus on education.

Read: Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence that Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes
Watch the video about the meeting

VISIT OF SPECIAL ADVISER ON PREVENTION OF GENOCIDE TO WESTERN BALKANS

On 12 February, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide concluded a twelve-day visit to the region of the Western Balkans that included Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he explored existing challenges for reconciliation as well as opportunities to overcome them. He expressed concern at the presence of a number of factors that could lead to scenarios of further polarization unless serious and concerted efforts are taken to address them, primarily by political leaders but also by civil society actors and by the international community. Concerns include political polarization across identity lines and politicization of events in the past, including glorification of war criminals, contestation of court decisions and limited engagement in transitional justice and national reconciliation. He also expressed concern at the absence of shared narrative of events in the past and what he considered as limited political interest in promoting such understanding. In these four States, the Special Adviser met high level government officials, including cabinet members, heads of parliament and national prosecutors; religious leaders; representatives of civil society organizations; members of the diplomatic community, as well as United Nations colleagues.

Read the statement of the Special Adviser
Read the news about the Special Adviser’s mission

Launch of appeal for universal ratification of the Genocide Convention at 69th Anniversary of the Genocide Convention and International Day of the Victims of Genocide

On 8 December 2017 (in lieu of 9 December 2017), the Office of Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility Protect organised an event to mark the 69th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention), as well as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime. The event took place at the Trusteeship Council Chamber in the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, seized the opportunity to launch a one-year appeal for the universal ratification of the Genocide Convention by 9 December 2018, when the Convention will mark its 70th anniversary. As of today, a total of 149 States (including one non-member observer State) have ratified or acceded to the Genocide Convention. Another 45 United Nations Member States have yet to do so.

Read the Special Adviser key note speech launching the appeal.
Watch the event launching the appeal.
Read the UN News Centre story.

Implementing the Responsibility to Protect: Accountability for Prevention Report of the Secretary-General (Advanced Copy)

There is a gap between our stated commitment to the responsibility to protect and the daily reality confronted by populations exposed to the risk of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. To close this gap, we must ensure that the responsibility to protect is implemented in practice.

One of the principal ways in which we can do so is by strengthening accountability for the implementation of the responsibility to protect and by ensuring rigorous and open scrutiny of practice, based on agreed principles. Accountability ties authorities to their populations and individual States to the international community.

This report outlines practical steps that can be taken by Member States, intergovernmental bodies and the United Nations system to strengthen accountability for atrocity crimes prevention. It begins by outlining the relationship between the legal, moral and political responsibilities associated with the responsibility to protect and different forms of accountability. It goes on to identify steps that can be taken to strengthen accountability for atrocity crimes prevention at the national level, to enhance the role of intergovernmental bodies and to improve the accountability of the United Nations system to those it serves...

Read full report

 

INTERVIEW: Amid increased suffering, responsibility to protect all the more necessary – UN Special Adviser (UN News Centre)

24 March 2017 – In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the outcome of the World Summit in which it, inter alia, underscored that each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

In addition to the State’s responsibility, the General Assembly also highlighted that the international community, too, has the responsibility to use appropriate means in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the UN Charter – the chapters dealing with peaceful settlement of disputes and regional arrangements – to help to protect populations from such crimes.

Within the UN system, the Secretary-General has designated a senior official to serve as his Special Adviser and to support both the organization and UN Member States in implementing the principle as well as in fulfilling the obligation.

The current Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect is Ivan Šimonović who assumed the office in October last year.

Prior to his appointment, Mr. Šimonović served as the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, heading the New York office of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (July 2010 to September 2016). He has also published extensively in the fields of law and human rights.

UN News spoke with Mr. Šimonović on the progress made by the international community since the adoption of the principle of Responsibility to Protect, the challenges it is facing at the moment, and his role.

Read full article

 

Religious leaders deserve full support in quest for peace, says UN Adviser on Genocide Prevention (UN News Centre)

Religious leaders and faith-based organizations have a responsibility to contribute to peaceful societies and the international community must support these grassroots peacemakers in their daily activities, the United Nations official mandated to fight genocide today told an international meeting on religion...

Addressing the third annual symposium on ‘The Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organizations in International Affairs,’ now under way at UN Headquarters in New York, Adama Dieng, the UN Special Adviser for Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, said that religious leaders “have a responsibility to contribute to the building of peaceful, inclusive and cohesive societies that are resilient to conflict, violent extremism and atrocity crimes.”

The Office of Mr. Dieng is one of the sponsors of the symposium, along with the UN Inter-agency Task Force for Engagement with Faith-based Organizations and the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN. This year’s thematic focus is on just, inclusive and sustainable peace.

Mr. Dieng, who is currently in Doha participating in a meeting on the responsibility to protect, delivered his address via a video message. He said the primary responsibility for creating sustained peace lies with States, who must promote the values of diversity and manage diversity constructively – however, “collaboration” with religious leaders remains vital.

“They can reach out to and influence large numbers of people,” Mr. Dieng. He added that religious leaders “provide support during emergencies, respond to the needs of marginalized communities, as well as address grievances as soon as they emerge and advocate for the rights of their communities.”

Last year, the UN Security Council passed resolution 2282 (2016) , which calls for a comprehensive approach to transitional justice and accountability to consolidate peace, reduce poverty and prevent countries from relapsing into conflict.

In his video message, Mr. Dieng discussed his recent work with religious leaders on the Fez Plan of Action on the role of religious leaders and actors in preventing incitement to violence that could lead to atrocity crimes. The Plan was named after the Moroccan city where the first steps on a strategy on the role of religious leaders were taken in 2015.

According to Mr. Dieng, the Plan will be launched in New York during the first quarter of this year, followed by meetings on its implementation.

“Implementing the Fez Plan of Action will be a good starting point in enhancing religious actors’ engagement in the prevention of atrocity crimes, as well as enhancing collaboration among religious leaders, Member States and civil society to prevent incitement to violence,” he said.

Link to the Office’s project on “The role of religious leaders in the prevention of incitement to violence”

Visit of Special Adviser on Prevention of Genocide to South Sudan

The United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide visited South Sudan from 7 to 11 November 2016 due to growing concern at developments there, including reports of violence targeting different ethnic groups. The aim of the visit was to carry out an assessment of the situation from the perspective of his mandate in order to better understand the landscape of ethnically-fuelled violence – including hate speech and incitement to violence – and the risk that this violence could lead to further atrocity crimes, including genocide...

The United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide visited South Sudan from 7 to 11 November 2016 due to growing concern at developments there, including reports of violence targeting different ethnic groups. The aim of the visit was to carry out an assessment of the situation from the perspective of his mandate in order to better understand the landscape of ethnically-fuelled violence – including hate speech and incitement to violence – and the risk that this violence could lead to further atrocity crimes, including genocide.

He met with United Nations colleagues, senior government officials, civil society groups, religious leaders, community members and diplomatic representatives in Juba. He also visited a “protection of civilians” site in Juba and travelled to Yei town in Yei River State to meet with members of the community and government. Yei, which until recently had been spared the violence seen in other areas, has now been identified as a conflict “hot spot” with escalating violence against multiple tribal groups in Yei and in the Central Equatorian State, of which Yei River State is a part.

Following his visit he gave a media briefing and delivered a statement to the United Nations Security Council.

  1. Media Briefing by Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, on his visit to South Sudan (11 November 2016)
  2. Statement to the Security Council by Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, on his visit to South Sudan (17 November 2016)
  3. Video programme on the Special Adviser’s visit to South Sudan, produced by UNMISS
United Nations Special Advisor on Prevention of Genocide Visits Yei, South Sudan