– As delivered –
Statement by H.E. Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly
9 December 2020
Mr. Secretary- General,
Today marks the International Day for the Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and for the Prevention of This Crime.
This day, which was adopted through Resolution 69/323 by the General Assembly in 2015, is devoted to remembering and honouring the victims of genocide.
Seventy-two years ago, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, became the first human rights treaty adopted by the General Assembly. Following the horror of the Second World War, and the Holocaust, the Convention signified the international community’s commitment to the concept of “never again”. Like the United Nations itself, which was established to ‘save future generations from the scourge of war’, the Convention set out to ensure humanity did not repeat the same acts that led to such horror and devastation.
The Convention is widely supported by Member States, with 152 State Parties. I encourage all States that have not yet done so to ratify or accede to the Convention and to uphold their responsibilities to prevent and ensure accountability for this crime.
Despite the wide support for the Convention and the steps taken to protect civilians, we have failed to prevent genocides in Rwanda, Srebrenica and Cambodia, as well as more recent situations of crisis, conflict and violence. This demonstrates how much more must be done to prevent genocide and related crimes.
Seventy-two years ago, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, became the first human rights treaty adopted by the General Assembly. Following the horror of the Second World War, and the Holocaust, the Convention signified the international community’s commitment to the concept of “never again”.
Genocide is not a single event. It is a process that takes time, planning and resources. There are many warning signs along the road to genocide. To prevent this egregious crime, early detection and a prompt response are crucial.
Early interventions to address risk factors and early warning can prevent risks from escalating. I encourage Member States to invest more in prevention and to build societies that are resilient to genocide, including by promoting tolerance and respect for diversity, fighting exclusion and discrimination, countering hate speech, protecting human rights and the rule of law.
Genocide has an immense impact on victims and societies that take years if not generations to overcome. Comprehensive accountability and transitional justice processes play a key role in helping both victims and societies to heal. To truly honour the victims of this abhorrent crime, perpetrators must be identified, caught and charged. I therefore recommend States adopt national action plans for prevention, which must have a guarantee of access to justice and remedy at their core.
I welcome today’s discussion and I am pleased that the distinguished panellists will discuss what more we can do to ensure that accountability is inclusive of victim’s voices and how these processes can help build towards broader prevention strategies.
I thank you very much for having me in this very important meeting.