Remarks by Zohrab Mnatsakanyan at the opening session of the Third Global Forum Against Crime of Genocide

10 December, 2018

Your excellency President of Armenia, Mr. Armen Sarkissian,

Your grace Archbishop Natan Hovhannisyan,


Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

Many warm welcome to Armenia,
Many warm welcome to the first morning post-election Armenia.

Welcome to the Third Global Forum. Welcome to Matenadaran, the institute and museum of ancient manuscripts, a monument of knowledge, idea, creation and education, a legacy of Armenia’s centuries-old contribution to world civilization and the bastion against the darker side of the human nature, against discrimination and hatred and intolerance - the very root causes of what we are gathered together to elaborate the ways to prevent.

Welcome also to Armenia at a time when the international community commemorates the 70th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. 72 years ago the UN adopted a landmark resolution 96/1, which was tabled by, at a time, India Cuba and Panama and which endorsed the term “genocide” and which opened the way for the subsequent adoption two years later, on 9th december in 1948, of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It was obviously a day of triumph for one particular man, Raphael Lemkin, who dedicated his entire life to addressing this crime, which rattles the conscience of humanity - the crime of genocide.

Also welcome to Armenia on a day when the international community commemorates the 70th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights which is exactly today. Again 70 years ago in 1948 great panel of experts have gathered to draft an important document, which became a foundation of what in subsequent seventy years have been the construction of the machinery of human rights protection globally, internationally. And again a good day to recognize and celebrate the legacy of those experts under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt and such prominent lawyers as Charles Malick, William Hutchison, Fernand Santa Cruz, John Humphrey, René Cassagne, Peng Chun Chang, Alexander Bogdanov․

Over the seventy years UN has been quite successful in building considerable foundations, considerable pillars to bring nations together to work against discrimination, against violations of human rights for the protection of human dignity and human rights. It took two world wars to recognize the devastation of human distraction, the distraction of human identity.

In seventy years we have both solid body of law and practical machinery of addressing collectively the issue of human rights. Twenty years ago Armenia initiated a process to take a level up the international cooperation, international effort to strengthen the concept of prevention against atrocities. At the time of the 50th anniversary of the Convention, Armenia tabled a resolution to remind the international community that there is such document, which is  still as relevant as ever and which requires recognition, effort, implementation, especially at the national level, the primary level of protection and promotion of human rights. Subsequently we have developed further the international soft law on prevention.

We have celebrated and supported the effort of UN Secretary General at a time in 2004 to create a special body within the United Nations. His ambitions were a bit higher but the members of the UN have lowered those ambitions unfortunately. We have what has been created as the Office of Special Adviser of the Secretary General for the Prevention of Genocide. I think we within the UN have created quite sound foundations of raising awareness of the risks of genocide in the international community and consolidating international efforts against this crime. And I particularly want to thank Mr. Adama Dieng for all his strong efforts in promoting this agenda.

In 2015 the UN adopted a resolution in the General Assembly to pronounce the 9th december as the international day of the commemoration and dignity of the victims of genocide and for the prevention of this crime. Since 2005 until 2018 we have been promoting the method of prevention against the crime of genocide and it’s an ongoing effort.

In 2015 Armenia made another contribution to this collective effort by way of establishing this very global forum. And I am so profoundly grateful to all of you for gathering today here in Armenia - a group of prominent scholars, prominent representatives of the academia, of the professionals of law, practitioners, to elaborate the method of prevention with a special focus on education.

Seventy years on, with the seventieth anniversary of the Convention we have been uttering the words “never again” unfortunately too often. The crime of genocide has not disappeared from the international agenda. The risks of Genocide have not disappeared from the international agenda. We live in a turbulent world, we live in a world of rising radicalism, populism, discrimination, intolerance. We live in a dangerous world where human rights are pushed in the backseat and this is very dangerous.

We know that in the era of rising social media and the proliferation of ideas - unfortunately it is a channel of all ideas including those who cultivate intolerance, discrimination, glorification of hatred - that is a challenge. Challenge at the national, regional, international level. This is the idea of the Third Global Forum today.

I am very keen to see an outcome, a generation of ideas and thoughts about the ways in which we can benefit from these discussions over the next two days, and take it up a level and bring in to the agenda within the UN, at regional level and at national levels, so that we can contribute in further institutional strengthening of our capacity to resist genocidal tendencies which cultivate the risks of mass atrocities.

Once again I welcome you very much to this Third Global Forum․ I look forward for the fruitful discussion and practical outcomes of this conference.

Thank you!

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