"Never Again", the world vowed as it reeled from the horrors which came to light after the Holocaust - never again would we let human actions sink to such a vile depth as that of attempted extermination of an entire people. It was a promise brimming with resolve and unanimity, but a promise which would go on to be broken again and again.
In December 1948, the then members of the United Nations General Assembly, without contention, passed the Convention on Genocide. It defined what the crime of genocide entailed and that it was an act to be prevented and its perpetrators punished. It has been 66 years since then and we have not been able to fulfill this promise - shattering its very principles time and time again - in places such as Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda or Darfur. Man - a supposedly civilized species - has not been able to resist the urge to systematically destroy the 'undesirable' members of a society. There has been and always will be characteristics which define and divide us - race, religion, caste and culture, among others. Classification is the first and ever-present stage of genocide - there will always be an "us" and a proverbial "them". Although prejudice is human nature and may be pardonable, acting upon prejudice is not.
Various schools of thought exist as to why genocide continues at this deplorable rate and what must be done in order to uphold our promise. There are those who believe it is inaction by the international community which allows for massacres and tragedies to occur - equating apathy or neutrality with complicity to evil. Although other nations may play a part in the solution to genocide, the absolute reliance on others is part of the problem. No one nation or group of nations can be given such a respo...
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...y the best antidote to genocide is popular education and the development of social and cultural tolerance for diversity... Finally the movement that will end genocide must come not from international armed interventions, but... must rise from each of us who have the courage to challenge discrimination, hatred, and tyranny."
Our promise of "Never Again", though made in good faith, was destined to be broken. "Never Again" should not only be a promise we make to others, but a promise every individual, group and society makes to itself - to not only prevent the committing of such a crime, but to never commit it ourselves. It remains to be seen whether this utopian vision will materialize, but until then, as Stanton said, "we must never let the wreckage of our barbaric past keep us from envisioning a peaceful future when law and democratic freedom will rule the earth."
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