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It has been 19 years after the genocide in Rwanda, but Adama Dieng, UN Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the UN on the Prevention of Genocide, says that all of us must be vigilant in preventing a recurrence. Dieng understands the horrors of genocide first-hand; he is originally from Rwanda and fled the country just two days before the genocide started. As a member of the judicial committee tasked with investigating what happened, he witnessed first-hand the suffering of people who were directly affected. He said that prevention was the key to preventing it from happening again in a brief talk he gave on Youtube.

Dieng said that it was important for each of us to take a role in prevention, starting with becoming familiar with the history of what happened. In answer to a question about what states could do, he said that states needed to combat crimes based on identity, ensure human rights protections, and support human rights institutions in their country as well as fight discrimination. Also, he said that countries needed to combat hate speech as it could lead to genocide.

In answer to a question from Cameroon about what the UN was doing, he said that they provided a wide range of tools for countries to deal with human rights violators that did not have to involve the use of the Security Council. Two possibilities were the use of sanctions as well as forming international groups dedicated to the promotion of human rights. Africa, for instance, has a regional committee on human rights and there are such international committees all over the world.

Asked about the situation in Syria, Dieng said that it was saddening to see what was happening and that the UN had a joint representative whose job it was to try to bring the parties together. He said that the UN alone could not stop the violence and that it was up to all the parties as well as the countries who were aiding the conflict, including the US, to find some sort of solution, saying that these countries needed to use all their influence on the actors to bring about some sort of solution.

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