International Judicial Forum
“Justice for Peace”
New Proposals for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
Monday, November 17, 2014
University of Buenos Aires (UBA)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Dr. William Soto Santiago
Global Ambassador of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace
“Justice for Peace”
World peace depends on the acceptance of a globalized world on behalf of the States; although, to achieve it, it is necessary to materialize a prompt and effective justice.
In the course of my speech I will emphasize details (as time permits me) the mechanisms to achieve justice for peace, and that way preserve the wellbeing of the human family.
My proposal titled: “Justice for Peace” has as its fundamental premise – to prevent crime and particularly the international crime of genocide – the importance of education founded on values and constitutional principles, whose central axis is the respect of human dignity.
I have always insisted that education cannot consist in the simple transmission of knowledge but, above all, in the awareness of the importance of respecting others with all the traces that individualize them, that differentiate them; without letting those differences let him no longer be “my fellow,” whom I must respect as a member of a single race: the human race, and as member of a single family: “the great human family.”
That fundamental premise of a single race and that we are part of the Great Human Family, was an ignored truth during World War II. By ignoring that truth of universal brotherhood, showed as consequence, around 60 million victims. And the curious and deplorable thing is that the majority of the victims were not combatants, but civilian members.
By the harmfulness and extreme grim, the Holocaust or the Shoah is identified as paradigm of genocide by historians and writers on International Criminal Law; and the crime of genocide, at the same time, is recognized as the crime of crimes or “capital crime.”
The atrocity of World War II gave rise in 1948, a Treaty of International Rights: the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; this instrument – I may add while on the subject – if it does not create a tribunal, nor does it establish penalties to be imposed on perpetrators of genocide, it does force the States to subscribe to the Convention to typify the conduct and investigate and punish its commission.
Before the punishment of the crime of genocide, it is important to display the efforts on behalf of the States to prevent its commission. To prevent genocide, we must educate on the foundation of respect of differences, the recognition of human dignity, identifying the possible catalysts that can trigger this international crime, that are – among others: hatred, intolerance, xenophobia and discrimination. And the best way to counteract those previous conditions for the commission of a genocide, it is not repression but education. But not an appraised nor neutral education, but an education based on respect of human dignity, that overcomes the simple transmission of knowledge; and in exchange, an education that has as its primordial objective: awareness about the love of life, respect of differences, mutual help and tolerance, freedom of thought, religion and freedom for the development of personality.
In the development of this policy of prevention of genocide, it is necessary to establish, in those countries where PERMANENT OBSERVATORIES have yet to be implemented to monitor the exclusion and racial, political, religious, cultural, gender identity and any other measures. The implementation of anti-discrimination measures must be accompanied by the appropriate follow-up, because in addition to implementing anti-discrimination measures, such measures must be observed and evaluated to see if they are giving the expected results in an equal, inclusive, tolerant and respectful of diversity.
The project “Justice for Peace,” besides emphasizing the importance of an education based on values, has as its resource the conformation of permanent observatories to monitor exclusion and all forms of discrimination, in those countries in which it has not yet been implemented. And in those countries in which such observatories exist, it is proposed to extend them to remote regions of the country, for it is in these geographical places where intolerance and discrimination is strongly evidenced against vulnerable groups and minorities, such as ethnic, cultural and religious groups.
By virtue of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the States are obligated to adopt measures to prevent the genocide barbarity and punish the commission of acts constituting the crime. For which they must –in the framework of their Constitutions– utter laws that include the lesson of the Holocaust in the educational programs, and supply tribunals with the appropriate tools to combat impunity.
Supporting the respect of human dignity and the need to comply with international commitments and while recognizing the autonomy of peoples, as Global Ambassador of Peace, I urge Congress and Legislatures of the different countries where genocide has not yet been criminalized, to amend the Criminal Code and this serious conduct be made punishable; just as Ecocide, another international crime against peace not yet punishable but not less harmful, because it is a serious attack against planet Earth and against everything that inhabits it.
To achieve this goal of typification and punishment of the crime of genocide and other international crimes, the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace through the Projects Board, is elaborating the corresponding law projects which will be presented before the respective Congresses for their discussion.
It is precisely through these International Judicial Forums that the discussion of those legislative projects are promoted, that seek (in the interior of certain countries in Latin America) the inclusion of the lesson of the Holocaust in the countries in which it is not foreseen, and typification, as a way of preventing and punishing the crime of genocide.
According to Article II of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (law reiterated by the Rome Statute), the crime if typified when incurred in any of the following acts:
1. Killings of a member of a group
2. Serious injury to the physical or mental integrity of the members of a group
3. Deliberately inflicting a group to
4. Measures destined to prevent births within the group and
5. Forcibly transferring children from the group to another group
The intention of the typification of genocide is the protection of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. This arbitrary selection of the groups subject to protection is not fortunate, by disregarding the principle of equality and discriminating other groups no less important, for the International Penal Rights, such as cultural, political, economic or sexual, among others.
The determination of the groups eligible for protection by the Convention, and reiterated by the Rome Statute, does not result to be lucky; rather, it is discriminatory; it only defines genocide as physical attack, marginalizing the reach of the Convention to cultural genocide or ethnocide, among others. At the same time, the forced transfer of children is the only thing described as genocide, leaving aside the crime of forced transfer of an adult from one group to another. Colombia’s example is worthy of special consideration, where forced pregnancy is typified as genocide, also politicide.
The goal of these International Judicial Forums is to build constructive critical thinking about the advantage of reviewing the 1948 Genocide Convention, and the Rome Statute of 1998, to expand its range of protection to other groups not included in these international instruments, whose members hold - among others - the rights to human dignity and to exist and live in peace.
The international community lost a great opportunity to update their legislature to the changing realities of this globalized world, when in 1998 nothing was said regarding the protected groups and the scope of the crime of genocide. Apparently, the concept of genocide has remained static since 1948, as if the world and expressions of violence have not acquired other manifestations.
My proposal as Global Ambassador of Peace, is that the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Rome Statute, be revised. I consider these instruments of International Rights, currently have a restricted reach, given the progress of globalized society, dynamic and constantly changing.
It is necessary that in this 21st century, where violence, discrimination and intolerance have not reached their end point, the Amendment of the Convention and the Rome Statute are promoted, to include political and economic groups as potential taxpayers of genocide; to contemplate as a crime the cultural genocide or ethnocide, just as the forced transfer of adults. All of these events are perpetrated with the aim of fully or partially destroying the group.
In turn, it is necessary to establish as a crime against Peace: Ecocide, serious attempt on the life of the planet, and therefore against all human beings. Ecocide, typification that has been proposed over time, taking into consideration that the Earth has life and is the habitat par excellence of the human being, it consists of the serious damage caused by humans to ecosystems and nature reserves. If Ecocide is typified, this would be the fifth international crime against the peace of the nations. Its investigation and prosecution would be competence of the International Criminal Court.
The democratization of the UN
The project of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace for the amendment of the Convention of Genocide in the indicated terms, is accompanied by the proposed reform of the internal operations of the Organization of the United Nations.3
It includes the provision that, in the case of measures taken by the UN to prevent, counteract or punish genocide, none of the five permanent members of the Security Council can exercise the right to veto. And failing that, if it ultimately is decided that the right of veto in the case of measures to fight genocide survives, then at least it should be required that the veto is adopted by the majority of the five permanent member countries of the Security Council of the UN. It is inconvenient and undemocratic that when it comes to prevent or fight genocide - the capital crime - only one country can veto decisions adopted by the majority of the representatives of the United Nations. Such possibility of a veto, besides unfair, it threatens democracy and disregards human dignity and the right of existence of people as members of a group. That is a form of discrimination of the countries member of the international community.
Also, with this project, it is promoted that at least one of the States of Latin America and the Caribbean (which could very well be Brazil, another one from Europe for example, Germany, and another from Asia, where India stands out) form part as permanent members of the Security Council of the UN.
I am aware that a project of such magnitude as the amendment of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, as well as the updating of the Rome Statute and the structural reform of the Security Council of the UN, can only be achieved with the support of all sectors in charge of interpreting and applying Rights in a national and international level.
It is necessary that the International Judicial Power has adequate legal instruments to administer justice in all cases of commission of international crimes, such as genocide. It is a constitutional mandate, in a Social State of Law, respect for human dignity for the sake of the common good.
Truth is the budget of justice; justice brings peace; peace is our right as a human family and is the foundation of happiness.
Today I have brought twelve conclusions. The following are the conclusions of this dissertation:
- The atrocities committed during World War II show of the need to typify genocide as an autonomous crime and international law.
- The Holocaust or Shoah, as indoctrinators' criteria of International Criminal Law, is the paradigm of genocide. In turn, genocide considered in the abstract, is recognized as the crime of crimes or "capital crime."
- The Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide emerged in 1948.
- The best way to counteract the previous conditions for the commission of a genocide is not repression but education. Not a neutral education or without values, but an education based on respect for human dignity, the love of life, respect for difference, mutual help and tolerance, and freedom of thought, religion and free development of personality.
- The Constitutional State of Law, multiethnic and intercultural, should enshrine and implement affirmative actions against discrimination as a prerequisite to guarantee the right to equality; and thus prevent the realization of degrading acts of the human condition, which may well lead to the commission of a genocide and many other serious offenses against Human Rights.
- In furtherance of this policy of prevention of genocide, it is necessary to establish, in those countries that do have not yet implemented them: Permanent observatories to monitor racial exclusion, political, religious, cultural, gender identity and any other nature of discrimination.
- The criminalization of genocide is the State's obligation.
- For the crime of genocide to be committed, it is necessary to identify the victim group. The criminalization of genocide seeks to protect a national, ethnical, racial or religious human group.
- The Convention of the Crime of Genocide, as well as the Rome Statute, restrict political and economic groups from their scope of protection as victims of genocide; they do not typify cultural genocide or ethnocide, among other shortcomings, solution that I am currently working on carrying out the International Judicial Forums in the framework of the project "Justice for Peace."
- It is necessary to criminalize ecocide, which consists of serious damage caused by humans to Earth, destroying ecosystems and nature reserves, among other possible modes of ecocide behavior. Ecocide would be the fifth international crime against the peace of nations. Its investigation and punishment would be jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
- It is necessary to democratize the UN. When dealing with adopted measures taken by the UN to prevent, deter or punish genocide, none of the five permanent members of the Security Council powers should exercise the right to veto. And failing that, if it is ultimately decided that the right to veto survives in the case of measures to fight genocide, its must be established that the veto is adopted by the majority of the five permanent member countries of the Security Council of the UN.
- With my proposal, I intend that at least one of the Latin American and Caribbean, another one from Europe and one from Asia, form part as permanent members of the Security Council of the UN.