I wish to thank Mark Donfried, Dr. Separovic, and everyone else who has worked to make this conference happen. I appreciate the opportunity you have given me to speak today.
The UN Genocide Convention defines genocide as “a certain act undertaken with the intent to destroy, in whole or in substantial part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such”.
Despite the clarity of this definition, genocides in the 21st century require an enhanced approach to prevention. Often, genocide is perpetrated for multiple reasons, including a mixture of supposed racial, ideological, and religious justifications.
Nazism mixed racism and ideology; Janvedis in Darfur mix racism and religion; and Mladic in Srebrenica mixed ideology and racism to justify their mass killings.
It is against all of these professed justifications that we must fight in order to prevent such atrocities—against racism, totalitarian ideologies, and militant religious conceptions without exception.
The most important tool that we have in order to do this is education. We must know what has happened in the past, and we must know the reasons for such acts, as well as their consequences. For instance, it is of great importance that everyone knows of the injustices currently taking place in the Sudan, and in Congo, and in Syria. Educating ourselves and others is imperative to ending such instances, and bringing about the eradication of genocide around the world.
The greater the number of individuals who are informed of said events, the greater the collective public opinion, and this is of grand importance when it comes to influencing government intervention and bringing about an end to genocide. YOUR VOICE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Do not be silent.
Although we can do much as individuals, humanity collectively can achieve much more. Collective effort and unity have led to technological advances beyond our wildest dreams, and have allowed the formation of international organizations which have reshaped international relations and cooperation.
So what is the next step?
So far we have the UN Charter of Human Rights. It formally guarantees equality and human rights to all people without exception.
The problem, however, lies in the regular enforcement of this protection. There currently exist great differences between different continents, between different states, and even between different regions.
We also have the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was the result of years of tireless campaigning by lawyer Raphael Lemkin in order to prevent the atrocities of World War Two.
Adopted at the United Nations General Assembly on December 9 1948, the law decided upon by the convention went into effect on 12 January 1951. It was ratified initially by the necessary twenty signatories and is currently observed by 140 states.
Although the convention laid the groundwork for the definition of the crime of genocide and put in place a legal framework to help guide the work of its prevention through the mechanisms of international law, the definition of genocide itself in the convention has remained relatively narrow.
Only with the creation of the International Tribunal for Crimes in former Yugoslavia in 1993 and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1994 was the UN able to secure the first ever conviction for the crime of genocide.
The current framework is equally slow. A major criticism of the response to the Rwandan and Bosnian Genocides was that they were reactive rather than proactive in addressing the conflict. The international community has not developed an effective process for halting genocide as or before it occurs.
Our priority must surely lie in preventing genocide in the first place rather than waiting to prosecute the perpetrators once the irreversible damage has been done.
As a continuation of the historic work of the Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin, the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy launched in 2010 an initiative focused on achieving “a fast-track”, concrete legal resolution to halting current instances of Genocide taking place in conflict zones across the world.
The aim of the initiative is to garner support for a concrete legal resolution among legal experts, NGOs, former and current politicians, and the general public. By raising global awareness, we will have the energy and momentum to seriously confront the issue in an unprecedented way.
In September of 2012, the ICD published “A Call to Strengthen the Enforcement of the UN Genocide Convention” and received massive support. The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy has gained hundreds of supporters of this initiative from a wide range of backgrounds and origins, including distinguished individuals from the fields of international relations, economics, diplomacy, the private sector, and civil society.
As chairman of the initiative and as Prime Minister of Slovenia, I sent a letter to world leaders in which I asked for their support.
A week later, we presented the initiative to the UN General Assembly and joined forces with the Global Centre for R2P.
Responsibility to protect, also known as R2P, is a new concept for the 21st century that was established at the 2005 UN World Summit. Its main goal is to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.
Responsibility to protect is composed of 3 pillars. The first pillar states that every country has the responsibility to protect its populations from mass atrocity crimes.
The second pillar states that the wider international community has the responsibility to encourage and assist individual states in meeting that responsibility.
And the third pillar states that if a country fails to protect its populations that the international community must be prepared to take appropriate collective action in a timely and decisive manner and in accordance with the UN Charter.
In order to fulfil the promises of R2P, institutional capacities need to be developed at regional, national, and international levels.
In September 2010 the R2P Focal Points initiative was launched by the governments of Denmark and Ghana and today 24 countries representing all regions of the world have implemented R2P Focal Points within their governments.
Additionally, the EEAS has established Conflict Prevention Board which includes peace-building and mediation instruments.
And simultaneously, two new tools have been developed: Early Warning Risk Matrix (EWRM) and the Country Conflict Assessment (CCA). The objective of the Early Warning Risk Matrix system is to anticipate conflict risks in order to enable EU actors to prioritize and deploy resources in a way that mitigates those risks and prevents conflicts. The Country Conflict Assessment tool is relatively self-explanatory: it uses a number of factors to determine the risk of conflict and specifically genocide in any country at any given time. These two new tools will be of great use in the continued prevention of genocide across the world.
Nonetheless, states should consider appointing national R2P focal points in order to foster international dialogue and state-to-state cooperation concerning R2P situations.
Regions and regional organizations should also consider appointing regional R2P focal points in order to enable better regional assistance and cooperation, including region-to-region cooperation.
It is recommended, furthermore, that state leaders convene to discuss R2P so that political dialogue is enhanced and consensus on the R2P concept is established.
On a regional level, states and organizations ought to meet on a regular basis in order to assess possible situations and share information on regional developments.
Along with state support, our efforts at preventing mass atrocities will be most successful if they are coordinated in conjunction with civil and private organizations. As I said earlier, civil society has a huge role to play. By demonstrating widespread outrage at acts of genocide and insuring that all of society is informed of such atrocities, governments can be pressured into placing greater emphasis on genocide prevention measures and helping us in our cause.
The international community should gather as well to share the insights and lessons learned from working with R2P.
In conclusion, these activities are helping us to draft a “fast track” and concrete legal resolution aimed at halting current instances of genocide that take place in conflict zones all across the world, and to create a supportive climate for the adoption of such a resolution in the United Nations.