In 2015, Armenia spearheaded an effort to recognize December 9 as the United Nations International Day of Commemoration of Victims of Genocide and its Prevention. On Monday, Armenia’s leadership went to Dzidzernagapert to officially honor victims of not only the Armenian Genocide but other genocides that have claimed millions of lives around the world.
President Armen Sarkissian and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, accompanied by other government officials, including foreign minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Parliament Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan headed the commemoration event at Dzidzernagapert. They laid wreaths at the eternal flame.
Later on Monday, Mnatsakanyan spoke at an event at the United Nations office in Yerevan, where he emphasized that recognition of genocide is also a step in its prevention.
Below is the text of Mnatasakanyan’s speech.
In the international arena, Armenia is the pioneer in the fight against the crime of genocide and has consistently worked and is working within the scope of the United Nations and with its several colleagues to raise awareness about the Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the ongoing risks and challenges related to crimes on the ground of hatred, as well as to build legal and institutional capacities for prevention. During its 69th session in 2015, by consensus, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Armenia’s resolution on declaring December 9th as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.
In an age of the growth of extremism and decline of the international commitment to respect human rights, education is of pivotal significance for confronting this and other serious challenges facing mankind effectively. The prevention of genocides is also pivotal. In this regard, today’s event, that is, the organizing and conduct of a speech-essay contest devoted to the prevention of genocide serves as another platform to make the voice of youth heard and raise through them the awareness of the public at large about the efforts and joint actions of the international community to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity.
Denialism and impunity are the main obstacles for prevention. For us Armenians, the fight against denialism has been and remains one of the greatest priorities. As a nation having survived genocide, we are also aware of our duty to advance the agenda of “never again”. In this context, the process of recognition of the Armenian Genocide is not only a direct step to acknowledge our justice, but also a step to prevent genocides.
One of the major goals of such forums is to explore the issues of prevention of the crime of genocide, speak out about the current challenges related to education about genocide and discussion on the steps and effective methods for resistance to those challenges through education and science.
We all have a major duty, and that is to remember. Therefore, it is important how the duty of remembering is reflected in various materials related to history, including textbooks, articles and scientific works. The days of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, as well as the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur must be days of mourning not only for the generations of the victims, but also the generations of the criminals since these days need to lead mankind towards recognition and reconciliation.