Marking the 55th anniversary of the international Convention against Genocide, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the international community to strengthen its ability to prevent that horror and to take decisive measures against serious human rights violations that may foreshadow it.
“Last year, at the 2005 World Summit, world leaders collectively affirmed the responsibility of each individual State to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity,” Mr. Annan said in a message on the milestone.
“Today, as we recall our collective failures in places like Rwanda and Srebrenica, it remains my hope that we may never again be found wanting where so many lives hang in the balance,” he added.
The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, he said, has embodied the UN's aspiration to prevent serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law.
He encouraged Member States and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to work with the UN to develop the Organization’s capacity to provide early warning of potentially genocidal situations.
The Convention, a major pillar in the evolving framework of international humanitarian rules, declares genocide a crime under international law. It condemns genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, and provides a definition of this crime. The prescribed punishment is not subject to the limitations of time and place. There are currently 138 States parties to the treaty.