Montreal, 10 October 2007 (FH) - A global conference on the prevention of genocide gathering historians, lawyers, diplomats and members of civil society concerned with the various genocides of the 20th century begins Thursday in Montreal.   

1 min 40Approximate reading time

This conference "must be used as a platform, not only for expert debates and academic exchanges on important subjects, but also for a broader engagement in order to influence debate and public policies, and for the establishment of solidarity networks and co-operation between a great number of progresses", explained its president Pay am Achaean, law professor and first legal advisor to the prosecutor of the two international tribunals (ICTY and ICTR) from 1994 to 2000.
Organized by McGill University's Faculty of Law, this Conference will be held from 11 to 13 October at a hotel in Montreal. On Thursday evening during the opening ceremony, survivors of the Holocaust and the Kampuchean and Rwandan genocides will testify alongside Sir Striate Raphael (former secretary-general of the Commonwealth), Whole Soninke (Nobel Prize of literature 1986) and Romeo Dallier (former UNAMIR commander).
On Friday, a debate will be held on the role of the international community in the prevention of genocide. The first prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and Yugoslavia (ICTY), Richard Goldstone, will speculate about the ability of criminal justice to prevent future atrocities. The former Prime Minister of Canada, Joe Clark, and the American historian Alison Des Forges will also give their thoughts on "the ability to foresee mass violence".
Then the debate will turn to the "early warning signs and triggering the United Nations into action". The special adviser of the Secretary General of the United Nations on the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities, the Sudanese Francis Deng, his predecessor Juan Mendez, the director of the NGO International Crisis Group, Gareth Evans, as well as the ambassador of Jordan to the United States, Prince Zed Al-Read are awaited.
The following day, Saturday, a debate that is already at full capacity: "Imagining a World without Genocide? " For the occasion, a video connection will be established with the Kigali Memorial Centre in Kigali, Rwanda.
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, will then come to say if "the ICC can help stop atrocities in Darfur?". Lastly, the question of the role of the media in the formation of the public opinion will be tackled by Allan Thompson, professor of journalism at Carleton University (Ottawa), who had already organized in 2004 a conference on this subject. Several reporters having worked in war zones will take part in the debates.


© Hirondelle News Agency