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Report of the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide
March 13, 2009

UN Human Rights Council Tenth Regular Session

Interactive Dialogue on the Report of the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide

Statement by Mark C. Storella
Head of Delegation of the United States of America

March 13, 2009

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States wishes to thank the Special Advisor for his thoughtful and important briefing on the prevention of genocide.

Last year the Genocide Convention turned sixty.  This six-decade milestone is cause for both celebration and reflection.  We, as the international community, must reaffirm and strengthen our commitment to ending genocide, while also admitting soberly that our collective efforts continue to fall short.  A crime that breathes such a heavy toll on all of humanity has no place in a civilized world and we must work fastidiously to eradicate it.

In the Special Adviser’s report, he rightly focused on the critical role that early warning signs play in preventing genocide.  International attention to these signs is the front line in prevention.  We agree with many of our colleagues, on the importance of properly linking individual warning signs to each other.  Just as important as identifying warning signs though, is the need to link them to a reliable institutional capacity that can receive and analyze them, and recommend next steps.  A weak or failing analysis process literally deafens the international community and reduces our ability to act with success.

The United States continually examines ways in which we can improve this process internally and we encourage others to do the same.  The Special Adviser’s role includes acting as an early warning mechanism and making prevention recommendations.  What other effective early warning conduits exist within the UN and how can they better work together for a common purpose?  How do we increase the capacity of various organs – like the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Political Affairs, the Secretariat, and others – to receive, analyze, and then develop preventative steps to an evolving crisis?

Before I conclude, I wish to reiterate our concern with the Government of Sudan’s decision to expel thirteen international humanitarian NGOs and to shut down three Sudanese NGOs.  These groups seek only to assist the people of Darfur.  This action puts over a million people at grave risk.  We urge the United Nations special procedures to call for the immediate re-instatement of these NGOs.

Twenty-one years ago, the United States ratified the Genocide Convention.  Then, as now, we believe that genocide threatens our country’s most sacred values and our core national interests.  We ask our international partners to join us in renewing our fervor to combat this common threat to humanity.  Prevention, we believe, is possible.

Thank you.