100 LIVES Joins the UN in Remembering Victims of Genocide

December 9 marks a new annual day of commemoration to remember victims of genocide and remind all nations of their responsibility to prevent and protect

Dec 08, 2015, 10:34 ET from 100 LIVES

NEW YORK, Dec. 8, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A group of organizations aimed at preventing genocide have welcomed the United Nations General Assembly's designation of December 9 as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.

On September 11 of this year, UN member states unanimously voted to establish this commemorative day and chose December 9 as it is the anniversary of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

"Slaughtering people not for anything they do, but simply for who they are - their national, ethnic, racial, religious, or political identity – is morally as bad as it gets," commented Professor Gareth Evans, President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group and former Australian Foreign Minister. "The Genocide Convention, adopted on December 9, 1948, should have been a circuit breaker. It wasn't. This commemorative day presents a moment to take stock of how far we have come – and have yet to go – in translating into reality the moral aspiration expressed seven decades ago."

To mark the occasion, 100 LIVES will publish a joint statement on Dec. 9 with leading humanitarian and human rights organizations calling on the world to remember the millions who have been affected by the crime of genocide. The statement is co-signed by fellow organizations Not On Our Watch, the Enough Project, United to End Genocide, Foundation Rwanda, Survivors Fund, International Association of Genocide Scholars, International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (a Division of the Zoryan Institute), Armenian Genocide Museum Institute, and Waging Peace.

Genocide is an issue that transcends the bounds of any one religion, ethnic group, geography or era and the effects of this crime throughout history are still felt by its victims and their descendants. This year alone, the world observed the Armenian Genocide Centennial, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, the 50th anniversary of the Indonesian massacres and the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide. 100 LIVES and its partners remember the victims of these and all atrocities, continue to demand that governments protect citizens, and use this commemoration to honor those who intervened to save lives— often at great personal risk.

"As a descendant of a genocide survivor myself, I am grateful to those that continue to dedicate themselves to saving lives," states Ruben Vardanyan, 100 LIVES co-founder. "I hope that this occasion will focus attention on the collective responsibility of governments to safeguard human lives, uphold the universal right to live with dignity, and support humanitarian work."

Chairman of the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (IIGHRS), Professor Roger W. Smith, commented, "The human cost of genocide and its wider consequences – mass migration of refugees, societal collapse and economic disruption – is far greater than the cost of early prevention. To save lives, states must expand their concept of national interest and act on their responsibility to protect." IIGHRS is a signatory of the joint statement.


About the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime
On September 11, 2015 the General Assembly adopted unanimously resolution 69/323 in which it proclaimed December 9 as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime. The resolution encouraged all Member and observer States, all organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations and individuals to observe the International Day in order to raise awareness of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and its role in combating and preventing the crime of genocide, as well as to commemorate and honor its victims. December 9 also marks the day the Genocide Convention was adopted in 1948.

Further information is available at www.un.org/en/events/genocidepreventionday.

About 100 LIVES
100 LIVES is a new global initiative rooted in the events of the Armenian Genocide, during which hundreds of thousands of Armenians were saved by the courageous and heroic acts of individuals and institutions. A century later, 100 LIVES seeks to express gratitude, to share remarkable stories of survivors and their saviors, and to celebrate the strength of the human spirit.

Photography, videos and press release for media use: http://edelman.isebox.net/100lives.

The joint statement to mark December 9 is available to view here: http://bit.ly/1NfyG6W   

Further information is available at www.100LIVES.com.

About the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity
The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity was developed as part of the 100 LIVES initiative, it is a new global award that will be given annually to people who put themselves at risk to enable others to survive.

Recipients will be recognized for the exceptional impact their actions have made on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes. Every year, the winners will be honored with a US$100,000 award as well as the unique opportunity to continue the cycle of giving by nominating an organization which inspired their work for a US$1,000,000 grant.

The Aurora Prize Selection Committee includes Nobel Laureates Elie Wiesel, Oscar Arias, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee; former President of Ireland Mary Robinson; human rights activist Hina Jilani; former Australian Foreign Minister and President and CEO of the International Crisis Group Gareth Evans; President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian; and Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian George Clooney.

The Aurora Prize will be awarded annually on April 24 of each year in Yerevan, Armenia.

Further information is available at www.100LIVES.com/Prize.