UN Secretary-General António Guterres marked Genocide Prevention Day on Saturday, with a message that the international community ”must do more” to prevent genocide from occurring, rather than reacting.
“Genocide does not happen by accident; it is deliberate, with warning signs and precursors,” said the secretary-general, in a statement to mark the day. “Often it is the culmination of years of exclusion, denial of human rights and other wrongs. Since genocide can take place in times of war and in times of peace, we must be ever-vigilant,” he added.
He went on to call on member states to ratify the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
“We are still reacting rather than preventing, and acting only when it is often too late,” he said. “We must do more to respond early and keep violence from escalating.
At an event in New York to mark the day, Adama Dieng, the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, said that “it is our inaction, or our ineffectiveness in addressing the warning signs, that allows it to become a reality”.
“Throughout history there have been many events that could have been qualified as genocide, “he added. “Even now we are confronted with some situations that, if put to the test in a court of law, could also be labelled as such.”
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