Remarks by Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan in the framework of International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims09 December, 2019
Dear Mr. Sharp,
I would like to welcome you all to this event, organized jointly with the UN Office in Armenia on the occasion of the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Armenian Genocide.
On December 9, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which clearly stated the commitment of the international community not to allow this crime to happen again. Armenia is determined to contribute to joint efforts of the international community to develop measures aimed at preventing future genocides.
Armenia is an international leader in the fight against genocide and has been consistently working and working with the United Nations and its many partners on the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, on raising awareness of the continuing dangers and challenges of hate crimes, as well as on legal and institutional capacity building.
Many of the resolutions sponsored by Armenia on the Genocide Prevention agenda have made their contribution to the coordination of international efforts on that agenda in terms of coordinating international efforts. In 2015, during the 69th session, the UN General Assembly, at the initiative of Armenia, adopted a unanimous decision to declare December 9 as International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.
Nowadays, in the face of the rise of extremism, when international commitment to respect for human rights is declining, education is central to the effective confrontation with this and other serious challenges humanity faces. Prevention of genocides is also crucial. In this regard, education should be the driving force that unites and guides the political, diplomatic, socio-economic and cultural prevention efforts of societies and states.
In this context, Armenia has consistently voiced the importance and priority of early prevention, which requires sufficient capacity to detect, study, and respond to early warning signs of situations that, if not resolved, could lead to uncontrolled deterioration, even mass crimes. Early prevention means early action, the focus of which is awareness. Prevention begins at the national level.
With this regard, organizing of essay competition on "Genocide Prevention" is yet another platform to make the voices of the youth heard, and through them, educate the general population about efforts and joint actions of the international community aimed at preventing genocide and crimes against humanity. And this indicates the importance of young people's readiness to preserve the memory of genocide and pass it from generation to generation to prevent new genocides.
Denial and impunity are the main obstacles for prevention. Denied justice pursues generations of genocide survivors and hinders genuine reconciliation. Combating denialism has always been and remains one of our biggest priorities. As a nation which has survived a genocide, we also acknowledge our commitment to promote the "Never Again" agenda. In this context, the process of recognition of the Armenian Genocide is not merely a step to accept our justice, but also a step towards preventing genocides, because it is a message that impunity does not work. Nowadays, it is necessary not only for history or historians but for all humanity and particularly for the potential victims of the identity based crimes.
It is essential for overcoming genocidal perceptions and for the universal protection of human rights. Strengthening genocide prevention tools in the international system, developing legal and practical opportunities is a constant challenge and function. It is a continuous process, and we will keep working in that direction.
Armenia has been organizing Global Forums “Against the Crime of Genocide” since 2015 in order to commemorate the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day and to raise this issue. On December 9-11, 2018, Yerevan hosted the 3rd Global Forum “Against the Crime of Genocide”, dedicated to prevention of genocide through education, culture and museums, implemented with the active support of the UN Secretary General's Office on Genocide Prevention and personally Special Adviser Mr. Adam Dieng. It is planned to organize the 4th Global Forum “Against the Crime of Genocide.”
One of the most important goals of such forums is to study the issues of genocide prevention through education and science, to raise awareness on the challenges of genocide education and to discuss steps to be undertaken and effective methods to address those challenges.
We all have one important responsibility - responsibility to remember. And therefore, it is important how the responsibility to remember is reflected in various historical materials - textbooks, articles, and scientific work. Commemoration days of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, as well as in Cambodia, Rwanda, and Darfur should be declared as mourning days not only for descendants of victims but also for descendants of criminals, as these days should lead the humanity to recognition and reconciliation.
I would like to once again express my gratitude to you for your participation, to highlight the need and effectiveness of such events in genocide prevention, I express our determination to maintain the continuity of the efforts on this issue and look forward to your continued involvement in these activities. I wish the winners and other participants of the competition new achievements and success in their further work.