Genocide is the intentional and systematic eradication of an ethnic, racial or religious group. 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the Genocide Convention. Still not all member States of the Council of Europe have ratified the convention. The timing is right for the Parliamentary Assembly to follow up on the status of the convention in member States and push for ratifications.
Genocide is an unconceivable crime for a society founded on tolerance and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Early prevention of such crimes can surely stop the escalation of conflicts, tragedies and humanitarian catastrophes. The absence of unequivocal and timely condemnation of the genocide on Armenians, Assyrians/Syriacs, Chaldeans and Pontic Greeks – known as SEYFO – largely contributed to the failure to prevent future crimes against humanity, such as the Holocaust and other genocides.
Since 2015, the 9th of December is the World Genocide Commemoration day. This is a global event instituted by the United Nations to commemorate victims of genocide and highlighting humanity’s responsibility to prevent future genocides. To commemorate the dignity of the victims of genocide we must make sure that all member States commit to ensuring that affected communities, even of historic genocides as mentioned here, are able to tell their stories and get recognition; even if those responsible have died a long time ago and even if the country concerned no longer exists.
The Assembly has an important role to play within the international efforts in contributing to the prevention of crimes against humanity. The Assembly should develop a process for encouraging member States to come to terms with their own past and prepare the ground for reconciliation. To protect and promote human rights within Council of Europe member States, the Assembly should make sure that we reflect on and raise awareness of historic genocides, such as SEYFO.