New York

06 April 2022

Note to Correspondents: Statement from the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide

The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, expressed her dismay and condemnation at the disturbing event at Bucha, which point to very serious signs of possible commission of war crimes. The Special Adviser echoed messages by the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Ukraine for an immediate ceasefire and an effective and independent investigation leading to criminal accountability over the killing of civilians in this location.  

At the same time, the Special Adviser alerted on the impact of this crisis in other regions in Europe. Specifically, she called on all actors in position of responsibility to strengthen efforts for prevention in the region of the Western Balkans, in light of existing concerns and grievances from the painful legacy of the past being exacerbated by dynamics of deterioration associated to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.  

The Special Adviser noted that in her visits to the region, many interlocutors have alluded to serious absence of trust, insufficient commitment to healing and trust-building by political leaders, dynamics of division being exacerbated for political purposes, and insufficient space for the work of local peace champions. In the last six weeks, the conflict in Ukraine has deteriorated some of these dynamics, with displays of hatred including open vindication of violence against members of one national group, appeal to religion as a source of legitimacy for violence, or alignment of national pursuits to the cause of warrying parties in the Ukraine conflict.  The Special Adviser notes that the Western Balkans remain of critical significance for key players whose geo-strategic interests meet in this region, and that it is not surprising that anxiety raises when disputes over geo-strategic interest are generating insurmountable suffering in Ukraine.  

At the same time, the Special Adviser emphasized that the main source of division in the region continues coming from the inside rather than the outside, and that therefore the most solid risk mitigation efforts will also need to come from the region itself.  In this respect, she underlined the need to prioritize reinforcing initiatives aimed at bringing people together in a region where they are often pulled apart.