The director of Sudan efforts at the United States Institute for Peace and a scholar associated with several universities has been named by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as his new Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities.
Francis Deng also served as the Secretary-General’s Representative on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from 1992 to 2004, after holding a range of positions in the UN and the Sudanese Government.
Mr. Deng succeeds Juan Méndez of Argentina, the first Special Adviser on genocide prevention who was appointed in July 2004 with a mandate to collect existing information on serious violations of human rights that could lead to genocide and to bring potential genocidal situations to the attention of the UN Security Council.
Among his activities, Mr. Méndez has made repeated visits to Darfur, resulting in varied recommendations to the Secretary-General and to the Security Council about what needs to be done in the strife-torn region of Sudan.
On the 12-year commemoration of the Rwanda genocide, Mr. Méndez wrote an op-ed published by several European and Asian newspapers in which he stressed that despite international obligations – such as the 1948 Genocide Convention – the global response against genocide continues to fall short of what is required.
In May 2006, Secretary-General Kofi Annan established a prominent group of experts – including Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu and the former United Nations Force Commander in Rwanda Romeo Dallaire – to support the Special Adviser and contribute to the broader efforts of the UN to prevent such massive crimes against humanity.
According to today’s announcement, Mr. Ban has asked Mr. Deng to devote himself full time to the genocide advisory post, and is looking for additional ways to strengthen the office.