International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of the Crime

9 december 2023

On the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and the Prevention of this Crime, NPWJ remembers and pays tribute to all victims and survivors of genocide perpetuated against them and their community.
 
This day is to remember all those children, women, and men whose fate has fallen into the hands of those who hate, reject, discriminate, and deliberately kill for identity reasons. Identity and belonging to a group, which are the root cause of genocide that has seen the destruction of those considered different and “inferior”, must never be a reason for violence. Acts that destroy, erase and eliminate a culture or a group violate the most basic human rights: the right to express one-self, the right to be part of a group, the right to live. Any violations of these rights must be prosecuted and condemned regardless of the context in which they were committed.
 
The term genocide was coined in the Genocide Convention, signed in 1948 after the Second World War. That convention defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such”; this specific intent is what sets genocide apart from other crimes against humanity. The same definition is included in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, whose mandate includes investigating and prosecuting individuals who, with the specific intent to destroy a group in whole or in part, commits one of the following acts: killing members of the group, causing them serious bodily or mental harm, imposing living conditions intended to destroy the group, preventing births and forcibly transferring children out of the group.
 
The legal framework is there to prevent and punish genocide, yet it continues in several parts of the world today. As we remember the victims, we call on States that have not yet joined the Rome ICC Statute to do so without delay, to expand the territory in which the Rome Statute is applicable, thereby reducing safe havens for perpetrators of genocide. We urge the ICC and national jurisdictions to fulfil their obligations to investigate and prosecute all crimes under international law, particularly genocide. In doing so, we must ensure that the voices of the victims and survivors are listened to, especially vulnerable groups such as children. It is only by hearing their stories and their needs that justice can truly be serverd. NPWJ will never forget but will continue to fight for the justice that is necessary to restore the peace of those who were targeted simply for being who they are.
 
We will continue to promote and protect human rights and the rule of law everywhere. We will continue to support the ICC and its work in prosecuting genocide. We will continue to work towards a path in which all communities, cultures, religions and people live together in dignity and respect for our commonalities and our differences.