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Twitter Campaign: What Should the United Nations be Doing to Help Prevent Genocide?

During his visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. on 28 February 2011, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon resolved to work harder to help prevent genocide. At the Museum’s display on contemporary genocide, From Memory to Action, he made a written pledge to "write a new history for all mankind" by helping to ensure that future generations will not experience the horror of genocide. The Holocaust Programme is asking students to share your ideas on Twitter on what the UN should be doing to help prevent genocide. If you would also like to send more details on your suggestions, please email us at holocaustremembrance@un.org.

Following the tragedy of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, the United Nations issued a public statement of regret for not having done more to prevent the massacre. This violence was followed by the killing of 8000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995. In 2004, a Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the prevention of genocide was appointed. UN Secretary-General Ban took one step further by appointing Francis Deng as his full time adviser at the level of Under-Secretary General, whose office was strengthened this past year with the addition of Edward Luck, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the responsibility to protect.

The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide acts as a catalyst to raise awareness of the causes and dynamics of genocide, to alert relevant actors where there is a risk of genocide and to advocate and mobilize for appropriate action. The responsibilities of this office, as outlined in a 2004 letter to the President of the Security Council (S/2004/567) are as follows:

- Collect existing information, in particular from within the United Nations system, on massive and serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law of ethnic and racial origin that, if not prevented or halted, might lead to genocide;
- Act as a mechanism of early warning to the Secretary-General, and through him to the Security Council, by bringing to their attention situations that could potentially result in genocide;
- Make recommendations to the Security Council, through the Secretary-General, on actions to prevent or halt genocide; and
- Liaise with the United Nations system on activities for the prevention of genocide and work to enhance the United Nations’ capacity to analyze and manage information regarding genocide or related crimes.

More information on the work of the Special Adviser.