13 January 2006

On Anniversary of Genocide Convention, Secretary-General Stresses Importance of Strengthening International Community's Capacity for Preventive Action

NEW YORK, 12 January (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of a statement by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide:

Fifty-five years ago, on this day, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide entered into force. Ever since, it has embodied the United Nations' aspiration to prevent massive and serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law.

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.  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.

That is why I encourage Member States and non-governmental organizations to work with the United Nations, and with my Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, to develop the Organization's capacity to provide early warning of potential genocidal situations. Simultaneously, the international community's capacity for preventive action must be strengthened, as should its ability to take timely and decisive measures in the face of serious human rights violations that may degenerate into genocide.

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