On 11 September the UN General Assembly passed a resolution establishing 9 December as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime. The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect commends the Republic of Armenia for their leadership on this issue as well as the more than 80 member states who co-sponsored the resolution. On 9 December the Global Centre will join the international community in commemorating and honoring the victims of this most horrific crime.
As the resolution notes, the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide calls for memorialization of genocide as a means for preventing the future perpetration of this crime. This call was echoed in the UN Secretary-General’s 2013 report on the Responsibility to Protect where it was noted that many states, including Cambodia, Germany, Poland and Rwanda, have institutionalized the memory of past mass atrocity crimes as an element of preventive action, promoting greater understanding of the nature and legacy of such crimes.
During 2014 and 2015 the international community commemorated significant anniversaries of the most atrocious crimes of the last century including, the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, 40th anniversary of the Khmer Rouge’s atrocities in Cambodia and the 20th anniversaries of the genocide in Rwanda and at Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In the aftermath of these tragedies the UN and its member states have sometimes undertaken initiatives to respond to past failures, including the 2005 adoption of the principle of the Responsibility to Protect. But ongoing crises today underline the need for effective action to prevent the perpetration of genocide and other mass atrocity crimes wherever and whenever they occur.
This annual day of commemoration will serve as an opportunity for member states to annually address some of the core aims of the Responsibility to Protect – including preventing the incitement and enabling of genocide and ensuring justice for all victims of genocide. As we prepare for the inaugural day of commemoration, we also call upon all member states to sign and ratify the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.