Site icon Diplomatie Humanitaire

Genocide, the duty of memory to action

Genocide does not only imply a duty of memory, but rather an obligation of action: legal, military, political, economic, public information and education action. Genocide news not only involved today the responsibility of States, but also intergovernmental organizations and civil society: religious leaders, universities and research institutes, media, artists, local communities and diasporas, humanitarian organizations, doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists, builders of peace and reconciliation.

The recent conviction of Radovan Karadzic for genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [1] recalled that the twentieth century Europe has experienced several genocides. It’s even in Europe the term “genocide” was used for the first time, [2] as a result of the Holocaust, systematic extermination of Jews perpetrated by the Nazi regime during World War II.

The Secretary of State, John Kerry, has declared March 17, 2016, [3] “Daesh” genocidal, guilty of genocide against Christians and other minorities. [4] He concluded his statement by saying that it is certainly important to name and define the crimes, but it is essential to make them stop. This will require, he added, to unite the United States and other countries, and determined action against genocide, "ethnic cleansing" and other crimes against humanity. [5]
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in the 2091 resolution, entitled “Foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq,”; January 27, 2016) [6] and the European Union, by the resolution adopted by Parliament European 4 February 2016 (“systematic massacre of religious minorities by the “EIIL / Daech”) [7], for their part, already recognized the genocide of Christians and other minorities “Daesh “.
Genocide is part of our history and our current events. How to avoid it at best in the future? To prevent genocide, we must adopt an approach that allows to defend in depth, multi-level, life and human dignity of every person without discrimination.


We consider three approaches:


The legal approach begins in 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted in New York at the time of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention for the prevention of genocide.

Other international instruments will follow, starting with the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 on the protection of war victims, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians, but also in 1950 the European Convention on Human Rights, in 1951 the Refugee Convention, in 1954 the Hague Convention on the protection of cultural property, in 1966 the two International Covenants on human rights, in 1994 the Statute of the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in 1995 the Statute of the International Tribunal for Rwanda, and in 1998 the Statute of the International Criminal Court, those three Statutes providing for the prosecution of war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide.

The implementation mechanisms are first States Parties to these instruments and also the United Nations [8] starting with the Security Council [9] and, in their areas of respective competences, Unesco, [10 ] the High Commissioner for Refugees, universal and regional bodies of Human Rights, ICRC, and no particular mandate but in their area of influence, the Inter-Parliamentary Union [11] and international [12 .] and national NGOs [13]

The media approach must be understood in the broadest sense: artists, filmmakers, writers, researchers, educators, historians, military experts, psychologists, psychiatrists, video game designers, journalists, all of which can influence the public opinion and decision-makers to prevent genocide. [14]

The moral and religious approach must extend beyond religious communities, and include all people with respect for life and dignity, belonging to these communities, believers or not. This requires to convince every religion to cope with their own extremists, and to consider, individually and collectively, the essential values of humanity that unite us all. As Martin Luther King said, if we do not learn to live as brothers (and sisters), we will all perish as fools [15] … an African proverb also shows the need to go to the source of our common humanity “When the branches are fighting, the roots are reconciled”

As stated by Pope François June 20, 2014 to participants of the International CONFERENCE ON “INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND THE GLOBAL CLASH OF VALUES” In place of the global clash of values, it thus becomes possible to start from a nucleus of universally shared values, of global cooperation in view of the common good.[16]

Meanwhile the necessary convergence of values and raising the public awareness, it is urgent that Governments and international organizations take protective, preventative [17] and repressive measures, in view of current phases or future reconstruction and reconciliation.

The resolutions adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament give indications of actions to be undertaken.

The resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of January 27, 2016 affirms the duty to act under the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948 and provides the following examples of actions:

And, finally, to recall the role of religious leaders as "foreign fighters actually harm the religious communities to which they claim to belong."

The European Parliament resolution of 4 February 2016 refers to the Guidelines of the European Union (EU) EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief,  the European Union Guidelines on promoting compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL), EU guidelines on violence against women and girls and combating all forms of discrimination against them, the Guidelines to EU Policy towards third countries on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the EU guidelines on children and armed conflict, the EU guidelines for the Promotion and protection of the rights of the child, the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline

It asks that :

The resolution finally instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the Governments and Parliaments of the EU Member States, the Government and Parliament of Syria, the Government and Council of Representatives of Iraq, the Regional Government of Kurdistan, the institutions of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (the Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC), the UN Secretary-General, the UN General Assembly, the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council.

Other organizations such as the African Union, could also be involved.

As for the Security Council, having acknowledged in its resolution 2249 (2015) that “Daesh” is a threat to international security, it should go beyond its resolution 2253 (2015) prohibiting any form all military and financial assistance to " Daesh "and should take effective measures to avoid falling back into passivity that allowed genocides in Srebrenica [18] and Rwanda. [19].

Michel Veuthey,
Deputy Permanent Observer
Mission of the Sovereign Military Ordre of Malta to the United Nation Office at Geneva

Exit mobile version