The second observance of the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime was held at the United Nations in New York on 9 December 2016.
The observance of the International Day commenced with a minute of silence in honour of the memory of the victims of Genocide. Opening remarks were delivered by Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr. Jan Eliasson and Vice-President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN Mr. Harald Braun. The UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Mr. Adama Dieng delivered keynote remarks on the role of National and International actors on prevention.
The panel featured Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Armenia to the UN Mr. Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN Mr. Martin Garcia Moritan, Deputy Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN Mr. Olivier Zehnde, the Executive Director of the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, Mr. Tibi Galis. The panel concluded with accounts of genocide survival and tragic experiences in the face of atrocities.
In his remarks, Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan welcomed the second observance of the Day by the United Nations and its member States to commemorate the victims of past genocides and to honour their dignity. The Armenian Ambassador noted that 9 December is a reminder of a collective guilt for past inaction, adding that the only guarantee against the actual perpetration of such crimes is the resolve to build solid foundations of early prevention, to raise awareness and educate about the risks of deep and lasting social and political disintegration as a result of genocide. “We cannot possibly diverge from our commitment to prevent lest we forget that we are duty bound before the victims and before our collective conscience”, stated Ambassador Mnatsakanyan.
Representatives of UN member states, academic institutions, civil society organizations and media, as well as representatives of the Armenian-American community and school children attended the observance of the International Day. The event was widely publicized in the UN, including through social media campaign conducted by the UN Department of Public Information under “#GenocideVictimsDay” and “#PreventGenocide” hashtags and featuring specific visual signs and messages.
Background: Upon the initiative of Armenia, in September 2015, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted resolution 69/323 proclaiming 9 December as an International Day in order to raise awareness of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and its role in combating and preventing the crime of genocide, and to commemorate and honour its victims. This landmark resolution followed up on resolution 28/34 of the UN Human Rights Council initiated by Armenia. The resolutions, which have lead to the establishment of the Day, as well as the events held in its observance add to the continued efforts of Armenia to promote consolidated international action against the crime of genocide.