At the end of the global conference on genocide, young leaders of the International Young Leaders forum made a declaration titled: ‘Responsibility to Prevent’ which obligated them to work together with stakeholders to make the world ‘genocide free.’
The conference, which was envisioned along an International Young Leader forum, is the first of the Echenberg Family Conference series for Human Rights.
It is also the first non-governmental conference on genocide since the adoption of the UN Genocide Convention of 1948.
Early October, 35 young leaders disciplined in law, politics, international development, journalism and human rights activities met for a three-day conference, hosted by the McGill University Facility of Law and Center for Human Right and Liberal Pluralism in Montreal, Canada.
In his welcome address, conference chairman Professor Payam Akhavan said the conference “speaks to an urgent need.”
He sighted the horrors unfolding in Darfur adding that it “reflect a colossal failure by the international community to prevent yet genocide.”
Akhavan said, “although genocide can not be predicted with mathematical exactitude, there are early warning signs… which should trigger preventive action.’
He explained that the young leaders had taken upon themselves to face the challenge, “which he is, sure, will raise, the sense of indomitable hope and purpose.”
The conference was climaxed by narration from genocide survivors, and participants participated in a range of activities designed to foster them with skills and tools to explore the rich contributions they could make to the prevention of genocide and the promotion of human rights both in their respective countries and the international arena.
West African pride Wole Sonyika was among the 15 facilitators that facilitated the conference.
The Global Conference on Prevention of Genocide was made possible by the generous support of the Penny and Gordon Echenberg Family Foundation. It is a response to the urgent challenge confronting the present generation, which aims to bring together eminent intellectual, political, and civil society leaders from the four corners of the planet in an effort to explore means of preventing genocidal violence, rather than focusing on intervention after the fact.
The conference is intended as a platform not only for informed dialogue and academic exchange on pressing issues, but also for a broader engagement with a view to shaping public debate and policy, and building networks of solidarity and cooperation among a broad range of actors dedicated to progressive change.