Honouring victims of genocide, UN chief decries attempts to separate people into ‘us and them’

9 December 2016

Marking the second International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime, United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon today urged Member States to honour those victims by “working even harder against expressions of hatred, intolerance, racism and xenophobia.”

Recalling that while the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted on 9 December 1948, Mr. Ban stressed that “we continue to be confronted with extreme acts of violence against individuals and communities simply because of their national, racial, religious or ethnic identity.”

In his message on the Day, the Secretary-General paid tribute to the memory of the victims and encouraged the international community to reaffirm its pledge to prevent such atrocities.

“I am gravely concerned about the rising hostility and prejudice against immigrants and those labelled outsiders. There can be no place for exclusionary or superior views of identity, or for divisive attempts to separate people into ‘us and them,’ stated the UN chief, warning: “We have seen in the tragedies of history where this dark path can lead.”

As such, he called on the international community and Member States to “spare no effort to uphold our moral and legal responsibility to protect populations against genocide.”

The purpose of the International Day is to raise awareness of the Genocide Convention and its role in combating and preventing the crime of genocide, as defined in the Convention, and to commemorate and honour its victims.

Through the consensus adoption of the resolution that established the Day, the UN General Assembly reiterated the responsibility of each individual State to protect its populations from genocide, which entails the prevention of such a crime, including incitement to it.


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