we wish toinform you

we wish toinform you - Today the United Nations, in its...

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Today the United Nations, in its first-ever special commemorative session, marked the 60th anniversary of the ending of the genocide under the Nazi regime during World War II ( BBC ). Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that it is easy to "say, 'never again'. But action is much harder. Since the Holocaust the world has, to its shame, failed more than once to prevent or halt genocide – for instance in Cambodia, in Rwanda, and in the former Yugoslavia." Kofi Annan should well know, as Philip Gourevitch points out in his documentary- like book on the Rwandan genocide, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda . Kofi Annan in 1994 was the chief of UN peacekeeping when that department received an urgent message from the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, indicating that the ruling ethnic Hutus were registering ethnic Tutsis, apparently in preparation for their extermination. Annan's deputy, Iqbal Riza, rejected the included proposal for action (105). Throughout the genocide that soon followed, the United Nations, the United States, France, and most other countries turned a blind eye to the slaughter that took place at a rate faster than during the Nazi killing of Jews during World War II. Three years later, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright admitted that "We, the international community, should have been more active in the early stages of the atrocities in Rwanda in 1994, and called them what they were—genocide" (350). (To her credit, Albright seemed to have received sufficient practice in apologizing for United States actions.) As Annan pointed out today, the Genocide Convention of 1948 was created to prevent the horrors of World War II from being repeated. But as the killing raged in Rwanda, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was using the term "possible genocide" to describe events, apparently afraid that calling a spade a spade would require action under the Convention. The United States didn't want even the appearance of responsibility, and the Clinton administration actually forbade unqualified use of the term, "genocide" (152). State Department spokesperson Christine Shelley explained the touchy subject in June 1994 in response to a question at a news briefing: Q: So you say genocide happens when certain acts happen, and you say that those acts have happened in Rwanda. So why can't you say that genocide has happened? MS. SHELLEY: Because, Alan, there is a reason for the selection of words that we have made, and I have—perhaps I have—I'm not a lawyer. I don't approach this from the international legal and scholarly point of view. We try, best as we can, to accurately reflect a description in particularly addressing that issue. It's— the issue is out there. People have obviously been looking at it (153). Fast forward exactly 10 years to Sudan, where militias are (to this day) targeting
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we wish toinform you - Today the United Nations, in its...

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