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International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
Committee On Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Prevention of Genocide PDF Print E-mail
JUAN MENDEZ, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, recalled that his mandate involved gathering information, providing early warning and presenting appropriate recommendations to prevent genocide from occurring. The creation of the post of the Special Adviser, he added, was part of the Secretary-General's Action Plan initiated at last year's tenth anniversary of the Rwanda genocide. The mandate had to be seen in the context of the United Nations' efforts to create a culture of prevention and previous discussions regarding the prevention of massive violations of human rights and humanitarian law.

Prevention required both early warning and early action, Mr. Mendez said. It was crucial not to miss important developments that may in their early stages gather broad public attention. Early warning should be clearly distinguished from early action, even though, politically, it could already be a form of early action in itself. Moreover, early warning should always be accompanied by practical proposals and recommendations that enabled the international community to act in a timely fashion. Mr. Mendez recalled that his Office had thus far issued such notes on the situations in Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cote d'Ivoire.

The impact of certain events on the prevalence of the casual factors in a particular country required thorough analysis based on the genocide literature, Mr. Mendez said. He added that his Office should act as a focal point for early warning information coming from any source inside and outside the United Nations system. The Office of the Special Adviser had agreed on how to define possible situations that merited its attention and the particular role the Special Adviser should play. Additional precipitating or external factors served to determine those countries in which immediate involvement was necessary. One precipitating factor to look for was the prevalence of expressions of hate speech directed at certain populations at risk, Mr. Mendez said.

In conclusion, Mr. Mendez said his Office could benefit from cooperation with the early warning measures and urgent action procedures of the Committee. The possibility of joint field visits in connection with the procedure could be considered as a concrete form of cooperation.

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