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  • Writer's pictureMariana Goetz

World leaders fail in their obligation to prevent as we commemorate 75 years of Genocide Convention

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

Banner with candles for the 75 Anniversary of the Genocide Convention

As we commemorate 75th years of the UN Convention Convention to Prevent and Punish The Crime of Genocide, world leaders are failing to meet their obligation to prevent. Failure to secure a Resolution imposing a Ceasfire to protect civilians in Palestine at the Security Council this week follows a decision not to extend the mandate of UNITAMS, the UN Mission in Sudan. The current lack of world leadership needed to protect civilians, echoes genocides of the past, where leaders stood by and then vowed "Never Again."

Darfur's Shadow Lingers: The 20th Anniversary of Genocide

Two decades ago, the international community witnessed a Genocide in Darfur —a campaign of destruction that claimed the lives of at least 300,000 people, displaced over two million, and inflicted widespread sexual violence. Today, 6.6 millions have been displaced since the outbreak of the new war that started on 15 April, with civilians in Darfur enduring mass atrocities. While the l context while the UN Security Council decided to terminate the UN mission UNITAMS on 1 December.

The violence that erupted on April 15 has escalated with alarming speed, with ethnically targeted mass atrocities being cited as genocide. The echoes of history are loud and clear, reminding us that the obligation to prevent genocide is an immediate and pressing responsibility.

"Never Again?" A Lack of Leadership and Moral Courage Prevail

We once heard leaders vow "Never Again" after the horrors of the past, yet today, the world witnesses a troubling silence and lack of leadership whilst mechanisms to prevent do exist. Article VIII of the Genocide Convention emphasises that:

"any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide."

While much attention is given to the nuanced considerations of thresholds and intent as to whether a series of acts can be called genocide, there is an immediate obligation to prevent. The lack of sufficient active bystanders able or willing to influence and take action to protect civilians is normalising mass atrocities and eroding our belief in universal principles.

The Ongoing Battle Against Identity Violence: Our Commitment to Change

In the face of this grim reality, Rights for Peace remains dedicated to countering identity violence. Our current project and workshop on Countering Identity Violence in North Darfur has brought leaders together, crossing divides, to identify common strategies to strenghten resilience to genocide. By fostering understanding of the steps that lead to genocide and their possible reversal concrete initiatives were planned to counter hate speech and engage community leaders.

As we remember the 75th anniversary of the UN Genocide Convention, let us not only honour the past but also act decisively in the present to prevent the repetition of history. The commitment to "Never Again" requires action, solidarity, and a collective voice that resounds against hate and division.

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