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Denmark delivers JST on behalf of GAAMAC steering group at HRC intersessional on prevention of genocide

Joint statement by Argentina, Costa Rica, Denmark and Switzerland 
Panel 1: Strengthening national capacities for the prevention of genocide

Thank you, Mister Moderator. 

It is my privilege to speak on behalf of Argentina, Costa Rica, Switzerland and my own government. Together with Tanzania and key partners from civil society, our governments form the steering group of GAAMAC – the Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes. GAAMAC is an open platform that aims to support states in establishing and strengthening national architectures and policies for the prevention of atrocity crimes – and this confluence with today’s topic is why we chose to speak at this very timely intersessional.

Every two years, GAAMAC convenes global meetings gathering more than 200 participants from over 50 states and over 60 civil society organizations to discuss issues facing national architectures and facilitate new ideas and initiatives regarding the national level. This domestic focus is one element that sets GAAMAC apart from other existing networks. After the first global meeting in Costa Rica in 2014, GAAMAC met in 2016 in the Philippines, in 2018 in Uganda and will organise its fourth global meeting in The Hague, The Netherlands, in November this year.

The upcoming meeting will focus on how to address at the national level hate speech and prevent discrimination that ultimately can lead to atrocity crimes. A special focus will be the recent rise of hate speech and hate crimes across Europe. We invite the participants of this intersessional to join us in November to share their experience and good practices with us. 

GAAMAC creates a unique, open space for governments, civil society, international and regional organizations and the business community to interact and produce new ideas which help to generate concrete initiatives in the field of atrocity prevention and to come together on a difficult topic to advance the goals of prevention. 

By way of example, allow me to highlight the work of the African Regional Initiative that emerged from the global meeting GAAMAC held in Manila in 2016. The African Regional Initiative, with government and civil society participants from over 10 African countries, has elaborated a manual on the work of National Mechanisms for the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. The Manual has since been translated into French and Spanish and disseminated through workshops in a number of African countries. Currently training material is being developed for the manual’s implementation at the national level.

As governments, we know that atrocity prevention at the national level can be a difficult task. It requires a readiness to acknowledge issues, to identify atrocity risk factors and to address them. It requires political and financial support to those working on atrocity prevention. It requires long-term engagement and continuous attention. In our view, GAAMAC can be a platform that can foster a strengthening of national efforts to prevent atrocity crimes.  

As governments, we welcome today’s intersessional as an important and timely opportunity to speak about the prevention of atrocity crimes in Geneva. As we speak, in a number of countries in different regions, men, women and children are suffering unimaginable atrocities because of their ethnic, religious or other affiliations. 

The Human Rights Council and its mechanisms have a crucial role to play in the prevention of human rights violations, including gross and systematic violations and atrocity crimes. We welcome ongoing efforts to further strengthen the prevention mandate of the Council and appreciate the support given by the Joint Office for the Responsibility to Protect and the Prevention of Genocide in this regard. We call on the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms to regularly consult with the Joint Office and to make use of the UN Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes.  

In closing, we invite other governments to join us in strengthening national architectures to prevent atrocity crimes: establish or reinforce a national mechanism, appoint a focal point for the responsibility to protect or become a partner to GAAMAC. We look forward to working with you.