UN presents new strategy to prevent genocide, human rights abuses

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The UN has launched a new initiative called 'Rights up Front' in order to respond quickly to human rights violations.

The Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, spoke to reporters during a press conference on Thursday about the six-point action plan.

The plan includes training of UN staff on human rights promotion and providing Member States with information on how to respond to violations.

Mr. Eliasson says the new strategy can be summarized in three main points.

"One is to make human rights awareness and knowledge permeates the UN system. So it's a matter of training and mentoring and putting this into the lifeblood of our UN staff – the human rights dimension. The second element is, of course, protection of civilians. Actually protection of civilians becomes an issue when we fail to take the early warning signals on human rights as seriously as we should. Because, if we do not do it, then it turns out that you need protection of civilians when the fighting goes on and when the atrocities take place. The third element is an internal issue which has to do with how we are organized and how are we prepared to deal with situations when they turn into the risk of becoming mass atrocities."

The aim of the initiative is to ensure past UN failures are not repeated, Mr. Eliasson said, pointing to the 1994 Rwandan genocide, where more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and politically moderate ethnic Hutus were killed.

He also recalled the wars in former Yugoslavia, where 6,000 Muslim men and boys in a UN protection zone were massacred in 1995, in Srebrenica.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’53”

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