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UN chief stresses need of detecting early warning signs of genocide

UN chief Antonio Guterres.

United Nations | Xinhua | UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday stressed the need to detect early warning signs of genocide.

Genocide never fails to shock the world when it occurs. But it is never committed without clear, multiple warning signs. The victims are often early targets of hate speech, discrimination and violence, said Guterres.

“One of our remaining challenges, 72 years after the Genocide Convention’s adoption, is to promptly recognize and act on these warning signs,” he told an event for the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.

“We need to remain constantly vigilant of key political, human rights, humanitarian, social and economic developments worldwide to identify early the risks of genocide and other atrocity crimes.”

Hate speech is one of these warning signs, and there is a need to do better in rejecting it in all its forms, he said.

This includes ensuring that technology companies and social media platforms play their part. The power of social media in disseminating hate speech and polarizing communities cannot be underestimated, he said.

Genocide is the most heinous of crimes, encompassing all it touches in a tsunami of hate and destruction. It is an assault on humanity’s most fundamental shared values, said Guterres.

The imperative to prevent genocide lies at the core of the purpose of the United Nations. This is evidenced by the adoption of the Genocide Convention in December 1948 in the aftermath of the Holocaust and World War II. The Genocide Convention was the first human rights treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly, he noted.

Guterres asked for a renewed focus on national, regional and international prevention strategies that address, in particular, the incitement of violence against groups or individuals.

Religious leaders and civil society also have a key role to play in preventing and mitigating its risk. Governments need to guarantee civic space for human rights institutions and defenders to do their essential work and they need to protect the rights of those at risk, he said.

To prevent genocide, it is also essential to pursue credible and effective accountability. The link between systemic impunity and atrocity crimes is clear, he said.

The answer lies in impartial investigations backed up by prosecutions. It also means access to justice and effective remedies for victims. Although accountability processes acknowledge the suffering and courage of victims, they rarely address their psychological and material needs. Victims have rights to truth, justice, reparation and a comprehensive package of guarantees of non-recurrence, he said.

Preventing genocide ultimately involves all of society, which must always remain committed and vigilant, he said. “It is crucial that we all join hands to defend the principles of equality and human dignity.”



One comment

  1. We pretend to be independent ;but when there are issues that we are defeated with! We tend to rush to USA than solving it within Africa.So i request USA and their friends Who have interest in dis-organising our Peace ; to also begin appreciating the good things done by the ruling Government to it’s citizens; not always commenting in fevar of opposition. Thanks.

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