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World must address racism now to prevent new genocide, massacres – UN panel

World must address racism now to prevent new genocide, massacres – UN panel

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has opened its new session with an urgent call to address current manifestations of racism and xenophobia in order to prevent a recurrence of the terrible massacres that marked the last decade.

“We must never forget such tragedies as that of Rwanda in 1994 and the horrifying drama and the massacre in Srebrenica one year later, both largely driven by racial and ethnic intolerance and hatred,” the Chief of the Treaties and Commission Branch of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Maria-Francisca Ize-Charrin, said, referring to the genocide that killed up to 800,000 people in the central African country, and the slaughter of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Bosnia.

Those events remind the international community in all their brutality that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance were not vanishing phenomena, and that vigilance was never exaggerated in such cases, she declared.

The importance of addressing the current and most acute manifestations of racism and xenophobia by focusing on steps that could prevent situations of discrimination, including their escalation to some of the worst forms of human rights violations, could not be over-emphasized, she added. Preventive measures were one of the most useful tools in dealing with the dangers posed by racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.

The Committee, beginning its session in Geneva yesterday, will consider country reports from several nations and may also decide to take early warning measures or initiate urgent action procedures with regard to situations in States parties.