The Role of the United Nations in Stopping Genocide
University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.
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The United Nations has become more vocal in recent years on the issue of genocide, and they are speaking out and letting it be known that it’s occurring or about to occur. And that’s a good start, because what you saw in other conflicts was that genocide happened and no one in the world knew about it. So the idea is to—once you start seeing the early warnings signals, you let it be known in order to build domestic or international pressure, and hopefully that will prevent it from happening. So what we see in the United Nations is—we are seeing from the Secretary-General himself; we are seeing from other levels of delegations, the ambassadors. We are seeing people speaking out, putting countries, governments, individuals on notice that the world is watching and that these activities cannot continue. And what happens is that, at a minimum, the action is not as overt as it could have been or was in the past. It may be covert, it may still be occurring. But what that may do, that may save hundreds of lives, and that’s a start.
In the near future, genocide is a continuing threat, especially when you have nations, new nations that are trying to find their way. And what I mean by new nations, you have countries that may have been colonies just as early as—up until 1960. We have countries and newly independent states where they’re now trying to redefine their borders; they’re trying to redefine their goals, their determination, which way they are going. You’ll see a power struggle; you’ll see various vacuums and voids that need to be filled. And I think with that type of environment, you’ll see leaders that will want to use race, religion, or ethnicity as a weapon of choice in order to get their way. So we need to be watchful of that. We need to speak out, intervene if necessary, do whatever we can—not only as government, but also as individuals—in order to try to prevent this from happening. And if it does happen, we need to be vigilant about accountability. People must realize that you just cannot get away with this, you cannot stay in power; you cannot reap the benefits of power after you’ve killed a million people.