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UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser speaks on Preventing Genocide and Crimes against Humanity

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide – Mr. Adama Dieng, recently graced Strathmore Law School to speak on Preventing Genocide and Crimes against Humanity. Being the date of the entry into force of the African Convention to Prevent and Combat Corruption, he mentioned the need to reflect on the recent measures taken by the Kenyan president regarding the fight against corruption, which is also related to the theme of prevention of genocide. He mentioned that during the Strathmore Annual Law Conference, which he attended, the discussions relating to the fight against Terrorism and corruption showed how the latter has weakened the security sector when fighting against these atrocities.


He went on ahead to explain the pertinent importance of the UN Charter, which was nearing its 70th Anniversary this year. By elaborating on its history and impact during the 20th Century, Mr. Dieng underlined that it was from those ashes and dark moments that nations emerged to adopt the UN Charter which has served as a foundation of international peace and security. Global order and peace, though faced with multiple challenges, has resulted from this Charter over the past 70years, which has constituted a basis for building further global peace and stability.


One of the challenges that the UN Charter was faced with included the consensus by the world community and how unclear the definition of the rights it inferred. Thus in fulfilment of the commitment to the UN Charter, the international community adapted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the crime of Punishment, which reaffirmed the gravity of this crime.


Mr. Dieng elaborated that the importance of this convention included the definition of genocide as a crime not only in war but also during times of peace, as well as providing the definition of the elements of genocide. This was then applied for the first time during the judicial processes that followed the tragedies in Rwanda. These trials reaffirmed the duty of the state to try these crimes as well as other atrocities committed.


Mr. Dieng commended the works of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda ICTR and International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia ICTY in establishing ground breaking decisions and have contributed greatly to a body of jurisprudence that has a huge implication on the prevention and punishment of atrocity crimes. He then emphasized on the importance of detecting early implication that would result to the violation of serious human rights. This is further reflected in the Secretary General’s new and innovative approach aimed at having Human rights protection at the core of the UN through the Human Rights Affront Initiative launched a year ago. This initiative is based on the premise that the violation of human rights, particularly to a certain group is an early indication of atrocity crimes occurring.


Generally the talk invigorated the audience to a Q&A session with the Under Secretary. Mr. Dieng commended Strathmore law School on having great forums and discussions regarding the state of affairs in the world today.