Republic of Slovenia GCO – Presentation of the ICD Initiative on the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) at the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly
PM Mustering Support for Upgrade of Genocide Convention
New York – Prime Minister Janez Janša is heading the Slovenian delegation at the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly, but he also came to New York as the head of an initiative pushing for an upgrade of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, for which he will try to muster broad support.
Janša has taken over the presidency of the initiative under the auspices of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy and has already discussed it with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during his recent visit to Slovenia as well as with a number of other heads of state or government.
In a letter that he sent to leaders last week, Janša urged support for an upgrade of the UN’s legal instruments and the creation of a system of preventive action and measures to efficiently prevent genocide and other mass atrocities.
The UN convention was adopted in 1948 and came into force in 1951, largely as a result of the campaigning of Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin. Attempts have been made to upgrade it, but the convention has often been criticised as being ineffective due to the lack of an enforcement mechanism.
Speaking to reporters in New York on Monday, Janša said the initiative he now heads attempts to formalise years of discussions by the civil society and law experts in the form of a protocol to the convention that would improve the effectiveness of the UN and other organisations in preventing atrocities.
“We want to expand the definition of genocide to include all mass atrocities; we want to enhance the preventing mechanisms of the UN and regional organisations; and we want to limit the influence of countries that are subject to procedures – this is the hardest part of the project,” he said.
However, he was quick to point out that the initiative did not deal with the past and no country whose previous governments had perpetrated atrocities would be rejected. Janša is convinced that the majority of UN members will join.
Although the draft protocol has been written, Janša did not wish to go into details “so that we don’t discourage any countries in advance”. “The draft has been made, but a lot of time will pass before its final adoption.”
Aside from being “a good thing”, Janša said the initiative could also benefit Slovenia’s candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council for the period 2016-2018. “This initiative makes it easier to defend the candidacy,” he said.
Janša will present the initiative as part of his address to the General Assembly on Thursday.