On December 9, a concert, dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime, was held in Yerevan at Aram Khachaturian Hall. The event was organized by the Foreign Ministry of Armenia within the framework of the 3rd Global Forum “Against the Crime of Genocide”. The concert was sponsored by the Armenian General Benevolent Union. The work “Requiem” of renowned composer Antonin Dvořák was performed by the Armenian State Academic Choir and the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra.
Acting Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan in his opening remarks noted that the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was adopted 70 years ago, was the first international treaty on human rights and greatly contributed to the development of international criminal law. “Since 1998, Armenia, together with its partners has been working within the UN towards enhancing the legal norms and institutional structures of genocide prevention. Early prevention mechanisms are aimed at rapidly identifying and responding to those impulses and warning signs that, if ignored, may result in large-scale human losses.”
“The universal ratification of the Convention on Genocide is yet another step towards guaranteeing its implementation Armenia, as a country that has consistently pushed forward the genocide prevention agenda, including within the framework of the United Nations, has heeded the call of the UN special counsel on the universalization of the Convention and, using a range of UN procedures, including the opportunity for universal periodic review, has raised this issue, inviting the attention of UN member states to the importance of this question.”
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan stressed that Armenia is obligated and resolute to make its input in collective efforts of the international community to prevent future genocides by reiterating the “never again”.
Adama Dieng, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, also delivered opening remarks and noted that prevention is better than cure and this is especially true for the crime of genocide, where people are targeted simply because of who they are or because of the religion they practice. He further noted that it takes generations to overcome and to heal from the disaster wrought by this crime. “We must become better at preventing genocide, we owe this to the millions that have perished as a result of this crime and to the populations that remain at risk today. We must act early and decisively when we see the warning signs.”
The UN Special Advisor noted: “ As we pay tribute to the victims of genocide, we must recommit to our pledge to prevent. That is the basis of the activity of the United Nations, to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. It is part of the raison d’être of the United Nations – “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. This commitment remains more relevant than ever at a time when we are seeing increasing disrespect for fundamental principles of international humanitarian law in places of conflict and a rise in expressions of hatred, intolerance, racism and xenophobia around the world. Preventing these crimes is a priority for all of us. It is our moral duty, our responsibility and our obligation”.
President of AGBU Armenia Vasken Yacoubian also underscored the importance of Armenian representation in the United Nations’ genocide prevention efforts. “Given the history of the Armenian nation, it is our obligation to shine the light on the horrors of all genocides as well as the ongoing injustice of genocide denial in the face of well-documented history. The notion that one genocide denied is another in the making is not just a catchphrase, it’s a cautionary tale that early actions must be taken to bring genocidal tendencies to world attention before it’s too late. AGBU is proud to help carry the mantle of human rights advocacy by organizing and participating in international symposia and panel discussions in major capitals like New York, Paris and Beirut. Today, we can do so not just as survivors of genocide but as champions of humanity.”