New York, Jan. 20, 2012 – In a major speech this week on the international community’s efforts to combat mass atrocities, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for 2012 to be the Year of Prevention.
Ban, delivering the keynote address on Wednesday at a conference marking the 10th anniversary of the concept of Responsibility to Protect , told the audience of policymakers, diplomats, academics, and journalists, “the key to preventing genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity lies within each society. These crimes occur far less often in places where civil society is robust, where tolerance is practiced, and where diversity is celebrated. Political figures cannot incite mass violence for their own ends where the rights of minorities and the rule of law are respected.”
Ban’s words were fully in line with the philosophy behind the Auschwitz Institute’s core program on genocide prevention, the Global Government edition of the Raphael Lemkin Seminar series , for government officials from around the world.
Emphasizing what some refer to as ” upstream ” or ” structural ” prevention, Ban noted: “Prevention does not mean looking the other way in times of crisis, vainly hoping that things will get better. We have done that too often. Nor can it be just a brief pause while Chapter VII ‘enforcement measures’ are being prepared. Prevention means proactive, decisive and early action to stop violence before it begins.”
This is the mission of the Auschwitz Institute: to prevent genocide before it occurs. We look forward to sharing our experience and insights with the rest of the genocide prevention community in 2012.