Video message of H.E. Mr. Ara Aivazian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, at the virtual event entitled “Mass Media in Genocide Prevention: The Promise and Peril of the Digital Age”

09 December, 2020

Excellences, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

Today marks the 72nd anniversary since the adoption of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which empowered the international community with legal framework to prevent and punish what used to be a “crime without a name” and came to be codified as the acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.

Adopted a day before the landmark human rights document – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Genocide Convention thus comes to represent the first international agreement on human rights.

Since 1998, Armenia has been leading the international efforts within the United Nations to underpin the significance of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, as well as to construct solid foundations for prevention.

In 2015, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution initiated by Armenia, which proclaimed the 9th of December as an International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of that crime.

The establishment and the regular observance of the International Day of the 9th December adds to the continued efforts of Armenia to promote consolidated international action against the crime of genocide.

Today, I am honoured to reconfirm, in my capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Armenia’s firm resolve to continue to support the mutually reinforcing agendas of genocide prevention and the promotion and protection of human rights.

As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, Armenia has declared its strong commitment to prevention of identity-based hate crimes. We all know it too well, that, as an ultimate crime, genocide is preceded by discrimination, exclusion, intolerance, persistent violation of human rights and freedoms, incitement of hatred on ethnic and religious grounds.

The frequent lack of understanding of the importance to timely detect early signs, such as manifestations of hate speech and incendiary rhetoric amplified by the modern means of mass media, and often politically motivated reluctance to address them properly and in timely manner has limited the collective ability to undertake early action and deliver adequate response to promotion and cultivation of hatred and intolerance.

Dear Colleagues,

2020 will go into history as a year of major grievances and vulnerabilities. It is been particularly challenging for Armenia and Armenians all over the world. As the world was focused on fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, Azerbaijan, with direct involvement of Turkey and foreign terrorist fighters and mercenaries from the Middle East, launched a large-scale military offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh with a clear genocidal intent. State-led policies of denigrating and insulting the victims of past atrocities and construction of distorted historical narratives that seek to justify the deliberate destruction of the Armenian cultural heritage in the region fuel inter-ethnic tensions and undermine prospects of reconciliation.

Dear friends,

Today, more than ever, we need genuine commitment and unity of the entire international community to develop a strong and effective system of risk assessment and early warning mechanisms. We need to promote education of human rights, tolerance and a culture of peaceful co-existence. Here, I would like to emphasize the role of media and communications workers: their influence and responsibility are becoming increasingly significant in the modern world of information technologies. They stand at the heart of early warning mechanisms to detect and prevent crimes against humanity. The resolution on Genocide Prevention adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2020 highlights that “, diverse and independent media able to operate freely would significantly reduce the risk of genocide”. 

This is a crucial time for all of us, time to fully assume our responsibility to prevent and to protect, time to act. This year has shown how fragile and endangered are human life, human identity, human heritage.

We are grateful to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for his commitment to sustain focus on the prevention agenda and for supporting the critical functions of early warning and early action, including the commitment to address hate speech at the national and global levels.

I want to welcome Ms. Alice Wairimu Nderitu, in her new capacity as Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and to thank her and her predecessors for the consistent action towards driving forward the prevention agenda.

I also thank Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, Ms. Melissa Fleming for her participation and for supporting efforts aimed at raising awareness about the importance of remembrance and prevention of atrocity crimes.

Finally, I want to thank our Permanent Mission in New York for bringing together an exceptional panel of humanitarians as part of the annual observance of the Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and the International Human Rights Day.

I thank you. 

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