The Secretary-General arrived in Stockholm from Davos in the afternoon of 25 January, to attend the Stockholm Forum on Preventing Genocide.
In the late afternoon on the 25th, he met with the Prime Minister of Sweden, Goran Persson. At a press encounter afterwards, the Prime Minister said that they had discussed the situation in Europe, and particularly Cyprus, in light of the Secretary-General’s meeting the previous day with the Turkish Prime Minister; they also touched on United Nations reform and the United Nations role in Iraq.
In response to a question, the Secretary-General said that since his meeting the previous Monday with representatives of the Iraqi Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority, the United Nations had been conducting its own analysis of whether elections by the end of June were possible and, if not, what were the alternatives. Regarding the joint request of these two parties that the United Nationssend in a fact finding team to assess the possibility of elections, the Secretary-General said, “I expect to make a decision between now and Tuesday about our action.”
On 26 January, the Secretary-General addressed the Stockholm Forum on Preventing Genocide as one of the keynote speakers. He said that the prevention of genocide may be considered one of the original purposes of the United Nations. At the time of its founding, the words “never again” were on everyone’s lips. Yet despite the coming into force of the Genocide Convention in 1951, he said, genocide happened again in Rwanda and Yugoslavia, “and States even refused to call it by its name, to avoid fulfilling their obligations” (SG/SM/9126).
“Those memories are especially painful for the United Nations, he said, adding: “and painful and traumatic for me personally”. In both cases, the gravest mistakes were made by Member States, he went on, particularly in the way decisions were taken in the Security Council. “But all of us failed”, he asserted. He added, “there should be no bystanders”.
In response to this failure, efforts have been made to change the culture of the United Nations, from one of reaction to one of prevention. But he offered suggestions of new ideas that should be explored.
First, he proposed that the parties to the Genocide Convention set up a committee to review reports and recommend action, as is currently done for other international treaties.
Second, he recommended establishing a Special Rapporteur on the prevention of genocide, who would report directly to the Security Council, to make clear the link between massive violations of human rights and threats to international peace and security.
He also praised the Commission set up by Canada that in 2001 produced the report “The Responsibility to Protect”, which, he said, had altered the terms of the debate over humanitarian intervention “in a most creative and promising way”.
“This nascent doctrine”, he declared, “offers great hope for humanity”.
He concluded, “I long for the day when we can say with confidence that, confronted with a new Rwanda or a new Srebrenica, the world would respond effectively, and in good time”.
“That day has yet to come”, he said. “We must all do more to bring that day closer”.
The Secretary-General then attended a luncheon hosted by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden in honour of the heads of State attending the Forum.
In the afternoon, he had a private meeting with the former United Nations chief weapons inspector for Iraq, Hans Blix.
Afterwards he saw Vidar Helgesen, the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Norway. They discussed the efforts of Norway to strengthen the peace process in Sri Lanka. They also discussed the prospects for peace in the Sudan and the Secretary-General’s high-level panel on change.
In the late afternoon, he left for Paris.