On December 9, a concert took place in the Aram Khachatryan Concert Hall in Yerevan dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide as well as the international day of commemoration and dignity of the victims of the crime of genocide and of the prevention of this crime. The concert was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, within the scope of the Third Global Forum Against the Crime of Genocide. The event was sponsored by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU). The concert featured Antonín Dvořák’s Requiem, performed by the State National Academic Choir of Armenia and the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra.

The acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, gave an opening speech, where he made particular mention of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted 70 years ago, which became the first international contract in the area of human rights and had a major role in developing international criminal law. “Since 1998, Armenia and its partners have been working together at the UN to strengthen the legal norms and institutional structures for the prevention of genocide. Mechanisms aiming at the early prevention of genocide seek to quickly detect and respond to signals and warning signs that, if ignored, could lead to large numbers of human losses.”

“The universal ratification of the Convention Against Genocide is another important step to secure its implementation. Armenia, as a country that has consistently pushed forward its agenda of genocide prevention, including within the scope of the United Nations, has heeded the Special Adviser’s call for the universal ratification of the Convention and used various UN procedures, including the Universal Periodic Review, to raise this issue and focus the attention of UN member countries on its importance.”

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan emphasized that Armenia had the duty and conviction to contribute greatly to the international community’s joint efforts to prevent genocides, advocating the credo of “Never Again.”

A speech was also given by the Special Adviser to the UN General Secretary on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng, who noted that it was well known that prevention is better than cure. This concept is even more relevant when it comes to the crime of genocide, when people end up as victims simply because of their identity or religion. Several generations must change for the tragedy of these crimes to be overcome and replaced by healing. There must be more coordinated action when it comes to genocide prevention, this is our duty towards the millions of people who have fallen victim to this crime and to those who are threatened by it. We must act quickly and decisively when we see the warning signs.

The Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General made special mention of the fact that paying tribute to the victims of genocide must be part of a renewal of our commitment to prevention. This is the cornerstone of the activities of the United Nations – “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” This duty is more than relevant today, when we see the violation of the basic principles of international humanitarian law in conflict zones and a considerable increase in cases of hatred, intolerance, racism, and xenophobia in the world. “Preventing these crimes is a priority for all of us. This is our moral duty, our responsibility, and our commitment.”

President of AGBU Armenia Vasken Yacoubian also underscored the importance of Armenian representation in the United Nations’ genocide prevention efforts. “Given the history of the Armenian nation, it is our obligation to shine the light on the horrors of all genocides as well as the ongoing injustice of genocide denial in the face of well-documented history. The notion that one genocide denied is another in the making is not just a catchphrase, it’s a cautionary tale that early actions must be taken to bring genocidal tendencies to world attention before it’s too late. AGBU is proud to help carry the mantle of human rights advocacy by organizing and participating in international symposia and panel discussions in major capitals like New York, Paris and Beirut. Today, we can do so not just as survivors of genocide but as champions of humanity.”