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Annan honours legacy of Raphael Lemkin, key advocate of anti-genocide pact

Annan honours legacy of Raphael Lemkin, key advocate of anti-genocide pact

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today honoured the legacy of Raphael Lemkin, the man credited with coining the term 'genocide' and drafting an international treaty to combat it.

In a message to a ceremony held at United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General said Mr. Lemkin's life offered "an inspiring example of moral engagement." Mr. Annan's message was delivered by his wife Nane.

The Secretary-General recalled that as a young man, Mr. Lemkin had petitioned the League of Nations to outlaw acts of barbarism, became a guerrilla fighter against the Nazis, and rendered advice that played a crucial role in the Nuremberg trials. After coining the term genocide, Mr. Lemkin "almost single-handedly drafted an international multilateral treaty declaring genocide an international crime, and then turned to the United Nations in its earliest days and implored Member States to adopt it."

Calling on governments and non-governmental organizations to carry on Mr. Lemkin's spirit, Mr. Annan said, "We must, together, work harder to create the culture of peace, law and respect among all human beings that will strengthen our defences against genocide and the impunity with which destruction is inflicted on others."

Today's ceremony, which was organized by the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, also marked the 50th anniversary of the entry-into-force of the Convention against Genocide.