On International Justice Day, Survivors of Mass Atrocities Join Human Rights Leaders and Governments at U.N. for Discussion on Accountability and Justice

Press Release
July 16, 2013

On International Justice Day, Survivors of Mass Atrocities Join Human Rights Leaders and Governments at U.N. for Discussion on Accountability and Justice

Global leaders unite in support of atrocity prevention through justice and accountability

Media Contacts:
Suzanne Trimel, Amnesty International USA, ssingh@aiusa.org
Kristin Rosella, International Justice Project, krosella@internationaljusticeproject.com
Vesna Jaksic Lowe, Physicians for Human Rights, vjaksiclowe@phrusa.org
Niemat Ahmadi, United to End Genocide,nahmadi@endgenocide.org

(NEW YORK) – To mark the Global Day for International Justice on Wednesday July 17 a group of global human rights organizations will join the permanent missions to the United Nations of the Netherlands, Liechtenstein and Costa Rica, to sponsor a roundtable discussion with human rights leaders and survivors of mass atrocities in Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The event will take place on Wednesday, July 17 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. EST in Room #3 of the North Lawn Building of the United Nations headquarters in New York. To RSVP, email: broozen@endgenocide.org.

Keynote remarks will feature the Ambassadors of the sponsoring missions, alongside Adama Dieng, Undersecretary General and U.N. Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention, and Stephen J. Rapp, Ambassador of the US Department of State Office of Global Criminal Justice.

"Mass murder, mass rape, and mass mutilation are not acts of spontaneous violence,” said Ambassador Rapp. "They are planned and executed as means to gain or retain power. These wrongs will end when we assure that their perpetration will lead not to power but to prosecution and punishment."

In recent history, millions of individuals have been the victims of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, yet only very rarely have those responsible been held accountable. In the last two decades, however, notable progress has been made towards reversing this trend of impunity; with the establishment of the International Criminal Court in 2002, a clear message was sent around the world that failure to investigate and prosecute such crimes at the national level will not be tolerated.

Yet, every hopeful step is met with new and compelling challenges. Political alliances sometimes supersede international legal and moral obligations, shielding indictees such as Omar al-Bashir, the sitting President of Sudan, from appearing before a court of law to answer for their alleged crimes.

"The price of impunity for atrocity crimes, more than any other crimes, is too high," said Adama Dieng. "It fragments the social fabric of societies and perpetuates mistrust among communities or towards the State. A fragmented or frustrated society is a society that cannot live in peace."

Yet, the ongoing crises in Sudan, the crisis in Syria and the ongoing impunity for atrocities committed in Kenya, DRC, Cote d’Ivoire, Sri Lanka and Yemen, to name just a few of the countries impacted by the gravest crimes under international law – continue to elude the moral conscience and legal obligations of the UN Security Council and far too many member countries.

On International Justice Day, the sponsors of the event, the American Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Amnesty International USA, the International Coalition for the ICC, the International Justice Project, Physicians for Human Rights and United to End Genocide and countries from around the world, stand in solidarity to represent a global constituency. They demand that survivors of mass atrocities have access to justice, truth and full reparations - and call for an end to the impunity that allows the perpetrators of these grave crimes to remain free.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists, and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied.