Remarks by Zohrab Mnatsakanyan at the concert dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

09 December, 2018

Your Holiness,
Your Excellencies,
Dear friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen

Today is a very important day for Armenia. The people are currently making their decision and electing our new Parliament of the 7th convocation. At the same time, this is also a very important day for Armenia and for the international community because today we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The Convention, which was the first international agreement on human rights, greatly contributed to the creation of international criminal law. Genocide was qualified as a crime worthy of condemnation by the civilized world and for which both the criminals who carry out this atrocity and those who are complicit shall be punished.

We are honored today by the presence of genocide scholars from the world’s foremost institutions, universities, scientific centers and museums dedicated to the prevention of genocide. We are also honored by the presence of the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng, the President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars Henry Theriault, the Chair of Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes Mô Bleeker, and other prominent representatives of the field.

Since 1998, Armenia together with its partners has been working within the UN towards enhancing the legal norms and institutional structures of genocide prevention. Early prevention mechanisms are aimed at rapidly identifying and responding to those impulses and alarming signs, whose ignorance may result in large-scale human losses. The number of such threats remains high, there are increased cases of grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law which cause civilian deaths. All this demonstrates that the world has entered a period where states more and more frequently violate international obligations.

Manifestations of hate, extremism, racism, xenophobia and discrimination continue to shake the world, by primarily targeting national and ethnic minorities. Denial and impunity are the main obstacles to prevention. Denied justice continues to pursue generations of Genocide survivors and hinders real reconciliation. We know this from our own experience.

The 70th anniversary of the Convention is an opportunity to once again turn the international community’s attention to the fight against genocide and the importance of prevention. Armenia has indeed been at the forefront of this undertaking. Today we paid tribute to Raphael Lemkin, a prominent lawyer and the author of the notion “genocide” and the Convention on Genocide who dedicated his life to the fight against this atrocity.

The universal ratification of the Convention on Genocide is yet another step towards guaranteeing its implementation. Armenia, as a country that has consistently pushes forward the genocide prevention agenda, including within the framework of the United Nations, has heeded the call of the UN special counsel on the universalization of the Convention and, using a range of UN procedures, including the opportunity for universal periodic review, has raised this issue, inviting the attention of UN member states to the importance of this question.

Based on the initiative of Armenia, in 2015 the UN General Assembly declared December 9th, the day the Genocide Convention was adopted, as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.

As long as we continue to hear the stories of survivors of genocide and as long as we have the will to preserve our collective memory and identity, the remembrance of the victims of genocide will be in our hearts.

Armenia is obliged and resolute to make its input in continuous collective efforts of the international community to prevent future genocides by continuously stating the “never again”.

Armenia, by founding back in 2015 the Global Forum “Against the Crime of Genocide”, provides a firm platform for international cooperation on Genocide prevention.  With this concert, I declare the Yerevan Third Global Forum, dedicated to the issue of preventing genocide through education and culture, to be open.

Before concluding my remarks, I would like to thank you all for your participation, I want to express my gratitude to the Armenian General Benevolent Union for sponsoring this concert and for supporting this endeavor from the beginning, to our musicians for their participation, and to my colleagues, who put much effort so we can organize this Third forum. Moreover, I would like to express my deep appreciation to my good friend Adama Dieng, UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser, for being with us today and for participating in the Forum.

Thank You.

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