UN Asks: How Can We Stop Genocide, Atrocity Crimes?

The United Nations

Ambassadors, UN officials and experts from the international community have been sharing ways to better prevent genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity, at a special meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in New York on Tuesday.

The UN fears risk of these atrocities is heightened given current global crises that include conflict, soaring food and energy costs, and deepening inequalities and tensions, all exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

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As the saying goes, we will be judged in years to come by how we respond to genocide on our watch.

Let us answer again with a first – that we took a step, together, to end it.

Remarks @UNECOSOC meeting on prevention of genocide and other crimes🔗: https://t.co/9IVs8ZlzZr https://t.co/WE1vW6uKeZ

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In her opening remarks, ECOSOC President Lachezara Stoeva highlighted how the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, together with global commitment on the responsibility to protect (R2P), underscore the need to uphold the dignity and worth of every person on the planet.

Stronger UN needed

Ms. Stoeva said protecting fundamental freedoms and human rights, including socio-economic rights, underpins the 2030 Agenda, and is critical both to address the root causes of conflict and to make communities more inclusive and resilient.

However, she warned that promises were not enough in the face of current global challenges, which are undermining progress towards achieving sustainable development and reversing gains made.

“These challenges require reinvigorated multilateralism and a stronger United Nations. It requires us to engage with all stakeholders, including young people and women, to promote social progress, better living standards and human rights for all,” she said.

Rooted in discrimination

Genocide refers to acts aimed at destroying a national, ethnic, racial or religious group and “sad experience” has shown that it is a gradual process, the President of the UN General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi, explained.

Hate speech, dehumanization of groups as “others”, and recurrent violations of their rights are precursors to mass atrocities, he added.

“Like a weed, genocide has roots in discrimination and artificially aggregated ethnic, religious or social differences. The seedling of genocide breaks through when the rule of law breaks down,” said Mr. Kőrösi.

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