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UN Special Adviser on Genocide welcomed, but more is needed

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Minority Rights Group International (MRG) welcomed the announcement by the UN Secretary-General today that he would launch an Action Plan to Prevent Genocide, to involve the whole United Nations system. MRG has been campaigning for two years for the establishment of a special representative on minorities and the prevention of genocide, and it welcomed in particular today the creation by the Secretary-General of a Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.

‘The Special Adviser will put a spotlight on the gravest rights violations’, said MRG. ‘By providing an early-warning mechanism to the UN Security Council, he or she will be able to shame the international community into taking preventive action before a genocide occurs, rather than trying to pick up the pieces afterwards.’

However, with the exception of the post of Special Adviser, the Secretary-General’s speech today was short on details. MRG’s research shows that it is minorities that are overwhelmingly likely to be the victims of genocide. Minority communities are the targets of policies of social and economic exclusion, humiliation and repression in which the roots of conflict and genocide lie. But the only UN body specifically addressing minority issues is severely under-resourced, and UN capacity to collect and analyse information which could sound alarms and help protect vulnerable groups is limited.

‘Too much of the debate on stopping genocide focuses on the moment when genocides have already begun,’ said MRG. ‘What is needed is preventive diplomacy at an early stage to address the root causes of tensions between majority and minority communities and promote cooperation. The UN’s capacity for protecting the rights of minorities needs an urgent upgrade.’

Notes for editors

For more information, contact the MRG Press Office on press@minorityrights.org.

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