The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR), in its capacity as Technical Secretariat, co-organized the VIII Focal Points Meeting of the Latin American Network for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention in collaboration with the Stanley Foundation and the United Nations Office of the Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect (OSAPG). The meeting, which took place October 16 and 17, 2017 in New York City, maintained its standard dynamic of work and dialogue while also incorporating a spirit of assessment relative to the Network’s advances and the objective of providing visibility for the Network’s progress and accomplishments in such a relevant international forum as the United Nations.
Convened on the occasion of the Network’s fifth anniversary, the VIII Focal Points Meeting served as an opportunity to promote the collaborative efforts undertaken between member states and to present national initiatives originating from the previous Focal Points Meeting (Quito, November 2016) that are being planned and implemented. The VIII meeting also worked to reinforce the momentum of long term projects being carried out within the context of the Network.
During the meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Auschwitz Institute and the Office of the Ombudsperson and the Ministry of Education of El Salvador. The MOU was signed by Raquel Caballero de Guevara, the Ombudsperson of El Salvador, Dr. Carlos Canjura, Minister of Education of El Salvador and Dr. Tibi Galis, the Executive Director of AIPR. Since July of 2015, AIPR has been developing this project, entitled “Education, Human Rights, and Prevention,” in collaboration with the Salvadoran Office of the Ombudsperson with the objective of designing an education initiative that will contribute to reinforcing democratic values and a culture of peace in light of the country’s historical and social realities.
At the margins of the Focal Points Meeting, two events were organized to further discuss prominent issues on the Network’s agenda and to raise visibility of its ongoing efforts to prevent genocide and mass atrocities. On the afternoon of October 16, a panel discussion entitled “Current challenges in matters of mass atrocity prevention in Latin America” was held. The panel was composed of Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Mr. James Turpin, Chief of Prevention and Sustaining Peace of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, Dr. Galis of AIPR, and was moderated by Ms. Jai-Ayla Quest, Program Officer at the Stanley Foundation.
The following evening, AIPR, the UN OSAPG, and the Argentinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship organized a side event that was held at United Nations Headquarters to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Latin American Network. A panel discussion opened the event, featuring remarks from three Focal Points of the Latin American Network: Maria Gabriela Quineteros, Director for Human Rights at the Argentinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship, Marlon Weichert, Deputy Federal Ombudsman in Brazil’s Office of the Ombudsperson, and Mariana Salazar, Director of International Humanitarian Law in Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They were joined by Dr. Galis of AIPR, Ms. Quest from the Stanley Foundation, and Ivan Šimonović, the United Nations Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect. Following remarks from the panelists, Focal Points and those involved in supporting the Network’s consolidation and initiatives made interventions reflecting on the successes of the body’s successes over the past five years and their hopes for the future.