Close Cooperation Between UN Special Advisor for Prevention of Genocide and the EU is Vital

Chairwoman Hautala met on 17th of November with Mr Francis Deng, UN Special Adviser for Prevention of Genocide. The meeting was held to discuss the numerous activities of the Special Advisor and to explore ways the European Parliament Subcommittee could cooperate with his office.[:] 


European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights held a hearing on prevention of mass human rights abuses and mass atrocities, together with the European Parliament Development Committee, on 18th of March 2010. The meeting with Special Advisor was held on 17th of November to continue the excellent discussion with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which was commenced at the Subcommittee hearing in March.


Prevention of genocides has been one of the most challenging tasks of the UN. Special Adviser Deng told Chairwoman that despite his mandate foresees him determining whether there may be a risk of genocide, much of his activities are focused on taking steps to prevent genocides or mass atrocities in several different ways. In particular, his office collects information and analyses it in order to function as a so called early warning mechanism on the possibility of genocide or other grave abuses. Chairwoman furthermore appreciated that navigating this field at times within the UN framework can be challenging as this type of violent outbreaks most often carry heavy political undertones.


It is most important to note that the mandate of the Special Adviser instructs him to focus exclusively on prevention of genocide, not on judging whether genocide has or has not taken place. Instead, focus is given to the longer period of time surrounding the events. Indeed, Special Advisor considers that genocide can be a long progression of negative events instead of only one distinct instance. During period of negative developments it is for him to create space to halt such tendencies. Cooperation with all officials and UN Member States is vital in this process, he stressed.


Chairwoman noted that in a fast moving world the mandate of Special Advisor should be adaptable in the best possible way to prevent genocides and mass atrocities. It is crucial to remain open to different ways the early warning signs could be responded to and in this effort partnerships are vital.


In the new Post-Lisbon structures it is legally foreseen that the EU promote international law in its external relations. While EU has been vocal supporter of universal human rights norms, much remains to be done in the performance of the Union in its bilateral relations and at the international fora. To look into this performance, further discussion at the Subcommittee will take place in the future. Chairwoman assured the Special Advisor of her commitment to ensure best possible cooperation between his office and the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights.