On occasion of the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and the Prevention of this Crime, 9. December 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres sent a message to the world:
On this day, every year, we honour the memory of the victims of genocide and other atrocity crimes, and we rededicate ourselves to preventing these horrendous acts.
The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide has given us a better understanding of early warning signs and risk factors. Yet, today, genocide remains a very real threat. The international community has repeatedly failed to respond collaboratively, swiftly and decisively to prevent genocide and related atrocity crimes.
Today, we face the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945. They are lasting longer and are increasingly complex. Impunity is rife and human rights and the rule of law are regularly ignored. Identity-based hate speech, incitement and discrimination continue to spread and are increasingly being used for political manipulation and gain. These are all alarming warning signs that should prompt action.
We know what is needed. We must eliminate identity-based discrimination and recognize diversity as a strength. We must respect human rights and the rule of law. We must ensure accountability and reparations for past atrocity crimes. And we must reconcile and restore broken communities.
States have the primary responsibility for preventing genocide, but this cannot be achieved without the participation of society as a whole. Young people, religious and community leaders, the private sector and the media — especially social media platforms — all have a responsibility to become champions of prevention.
By working together, we can avoid the egregious mistakes of the past.