As the 10-year anniversary of the Rwandan genocide approaches, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today proposed the establishment of a Special Rapporteur or Adviser on the prevention of genocide.
In an address to both houses of the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, Mr. Annan said "we can no longer afford gaps in existing capacity to provide early warning of genocide or comparable crimes."
He said a rapporteur would "compel us to reflect on how to avoid similar atrocities [to Rwanda in 1994] in the future," adding the post would make clear the link "between massive and systematic violations of human rights and threats to international peace and security."
In a wide-ranging address, the Secretary-General issued a plea for a long-term commitment to help Haiti and its people, called for a new global consensus on the threats and challenges ahead, and said the affluent nations of the North "will have to do their fair share" of support if developing countries are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
Mr. Annan also praised Canada as "a pillar of support for the UN," saying it has a deserved reputation as an exemplary international actor and has long played a role in promoting peace and development.
The parliamentary address by Mr. Annan followed meetings with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and with members of his governing Cabinet. The situation in Haiti was discussed during the talks.
When he arrived in Ottawa yesterday, Mr. Annan told Canada's Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson that the country's diverse, multilingual society "forms a kind of UN of its own."
Today the Secretary-General also laid a wreath at Canada's memorial to fallen UN peacekeepers. Mr. Annan returns to New York tomorrow.