Conference Proceedings
 

Global Conference on the Prevention of Genocide

Thursday 11th October

1a. Special Opening Night Plenary: Introductory Remarks
1b. Speaking the Unspeakable: Listening to the Voices of Survivors

Friday 12th October

Saturday 13th October

9.00-11.00am
2. Genocide in History: The Onward Progress of Civilisation?

9.00-10.30
8. The Future of Prevention: Overcoming the Fear of Quagmire

9. Facing History and Ourselves: Imagining a World Without Genocide

COFFEE BREAK

11.30-1pm
3.  Accountability for Genocide: Does Criminal Justice Prevent Future Atrocities?

4. Is Genocide Preventable?  The Foreseeability of Mass Violence

11.00-1.00pm
10. The Seeds of Genocide: Hate Propaganda and the Banalization of Evil

11. Can the ICC help stop the atrocities in Darfur? 

LUNCH

2.00-3.30pm
5. Early Warning: Triggering the UN into Action

2.00-3.30
12. Inducing the Will to Act: Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility to Protect Against Genocide

13. Shaping Public Opinion: The Role of the Media

COFFEE BREAK

4.00-5.30pm
6. Public Initiative: The Role of Civil Society

7. Economics and Genocide: Reconciling Profit and Prevention

4.00-6.00pm  Closing Session
14.The Challenge of Moral Leadership: Lessons from the Past, Visions for the Future

 15. Towards a World Without Genocide: Closing Session of the International Young Leaders Forum

 


Thursday, October 11, 5pm
1. Special Opening Night Plenary: Speaking the Unspeakable: Listening to the Voices of Survivors

The Global Conference begins by listening to the stories of four survivors, who will speak of their experiences in the Jewish and Roma Holocausts, and Cambodian and Rwandan genocides.  These stories are the essential starting point for our exploration of why good people allow evil to happen, and how it is possible to awaken the sense of moral urgency that will make prevention of genocide a reality.

Chair: Professor Payam Akhavan, Faculty of Law, McGill University

Introductory remarks:
Heather Munroe-Blum (Principal, McGill University)
Professor Nicholas Kasirer (Dean, McGill Faculty of Law)
Gordon Echenberg (Conference founder/donor)
Professor René Provost (Director, McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism)

 

Panelists:

  1. Hédi Fried - Jewish Holocaust survivor
  2. Marika Nene - Roma Holocaust survivor
  3. Youk Chhang - Cambodian genocide survivor
  4. Esther Mujawayo - Rwandan genocide survivor

Respondents:

  1. Wole Soyinka - Nobel Laureate in Literature
  2. Lt. General (ret.) Roméo Dallaire - Member of Canadian Senate, former commander of UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda
  3. Sir Shridath Ramphal - former Secretary-General of the British Commonwealth

Musical Performances by:
     Aditya Verma (sarod) and Sanjay Verma (tabla)
     Niky Kamran (violin) and Syd Bulman-Fleming (piano)

Friday, October 12, 9 – 11am
2. Genocide in History: The Onward Progress of Civilisation?

Is genocide an expression of residual barbarity or a reflection of the unprecedented violence of modernity?  Is there a common element characterizing different genocides or is each unique?  How do historical conceptions of genocide shape our contemporary understanding of whether it is possible to effectively confront this scourge?  This panel explores four notorious genocides, the Armenians in 1915-17, the Holocaust, Cambodia 1975-79, and Rwanda 1994, and relates the historical lessons learned to our current reality and future challenges. 
Chair: Professor Douglas Greenberg - Director of USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education
Panelists:

  1. Professor Taner Akçam - Department of History, University of Minnesota; author of A Shameful Act: the Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility (2006)
  2. Professor Yehuda Bauer - Holocaust historian and scholar, Yad Vashem and Hebrew University
  3. Professor Ben Kiernan - Professor of History and Director of the Cambodian Genocide Program, Yale University
  4. Dr. Gérard Prunier - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris; Director of the French Centre for Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa; author of The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide (1995)

Friday, October 12, 11:30 – 1pm
3. Accountability for Genocide: Does Criminal Justice Prevent Future Atrocities?

Sixty years after the Nuremburg Tribunal, the international community has established an International Criminal Court and other tribunals with a view to punishing and deterring genocide.  How is it possible to effectively prosecute culpable leaders if there is no willingness to intervene with force?  Is justice a contribution to or impediment to a peace process where power realities require negotiations with leaders implicated in genocide?  Do perpetrators of genocide engage in a cost-benefit calculus such that punishment can deter those contemplating crimes in the future?  Or is it a futile attempt to make overwhelming evil more manageable to create the illusion of progress?  This panel will consider these questions through the prism of practitioners and academics, and the perspectives of both law and politics. 

Chair: Professor William Schabas - Director of Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland
Panelists:

  1. Professor Catherine Lu - Department of Political Science, McGill University
  2. Professor Gary Bass - Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs and Politics Department, Princeton University
  3. Justice Richard Goldstone - former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa; first Prosecutor of the United Nations Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia

Friday, October 12, 11:30 – 1pm
4. Is Genocide Preventable?  The Foreseeability of Mass Violence

In order to prevent genocide, it must be predicted.  What are the ingredients of genocide?  Is it possible to predict with any degree of precision whether tensions will escalate into genocidal violence?  When is the appropriate time for intervention?  What are the modalities of intervention?  This panel will speak about situations such as Rwanda and Burundi to consider where and how early intervention was possible and whether it is capable of successfully preventing genocide. 

Chair: The Rt. Hon. Joe Clark - former Prime Minister of Canada; Professor, McGill Centre for Developing-Area Studies
Panelists:

  1. Alison Des Forges - Human Rights Watch
  2. Dr. Howard Wolpe - Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, Washington D.C.
  3. Dr. Gregory Stanton – President of Genocide Watch
  4. Ms Gay J. McDougall - United Nations Independent Expert on Minority Issues

Friday, October 12, 2 – 3:30 pm
5. Early Warning: Triggering the UN into Action

How is it possible to expeditiously trigger the UN into action considering both the bureaucratic inertia and political reticence that characterizes the decision-making process?  Are behind the scenes initiatives preferable to public advocacy?  Which are the most significant points on contact within the UN Secretariat in terms of information flow and policy prescriptions?  How can the Secretary-General influence the Security Council and other UN bodies?  What is the role and record thus far of the UN Special-Advisor on Prevention of Genocide?  How is the Responsibility to Protect perceived within policy-making circles within the UN system?  This panel of eminent diplomats and experts will consider these questions in light of their experience within the UN system over the past few years.  
Chair: Professor Peter Leuprecht - Director of the Montreal Institute of International Studies, Université du Québec à Montréal
Panelists:

  1. Professor Francis Deng – Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide
  2. Juan Mendez – Former Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide; Director of the International Center for Transitional Justice
  3. The Hon. Gareth Evans - Director of the International Crisis Group
  4. HRH Prince Zeid Al-Raad - Ambassador of Jordan to the United States

Friday, October 12, 4 – 5:30 pm
6. Public Initiative: The Role of Civil Society

Civil society has become an increasingly important stakeholder in the prevention of genocide, not least where governments are unwilling to take action.  How has the role of non-governmental organizations evolved and what does the future hold?  Are effective partnerships with governments and business desirable or is there a danger that mainstreaming of human rights will dilute the independence and effectiveness of civil society?  What strategies have worked in the past in order to mobilize public opinion?  How much can civil society achieve absent action by governments?  This panel will reflect on both the practice and theory of such social movements and their potential and limitations in making the prevention of genocide a reality.

Chair:  Dr. Razmik Panossian -  Director of Policy and Programmes, Rights and Democracy, Montréal
Panelists:

  1. Rebecca Hamilton - Harvard Law School and Kennedy School of Government
  2. Professor Frédéric Mégret - Faculty of Law, McGill University
  3. Dr. Ali B. Ali Dinar - University of Pennsylvania, President of the Darfur Alert Coalition
  4. Salih Mahmoud Osman – Lawyer and human rights activist, Sudan
  5. James Smith – co-founder of the Aegis Trust

Friday, October 12, 4 – 5:30 pm
7. Economics and Genocide: Reconciling Profit and Prevention

Genocidal regimes are often sustained by economic relations including foreign trade and investment.  What is the role of governments and corporations in ensuring that they are not complicit in genocide?  What should be the criteria for determining whether economic sanctions or divestment are necessary and desirable?  What are the institutions that can facilitate such policies?  This panel brings together perspectives from government, business, and academia, focusing in particular on the situation in Darfur. 

Chair: Tony ComperImmediate Past President and CEO of BMO Financial Group

Panelists:

  1. Professor Audrey Macklin - Faculty of Law, University of Toronto
  2. Christian Mumenthaler - Chief Risk Officer of Swiss Re Group (SUBJECT TO CONFIRMATION)
  3. Justice Richard Goldstone - former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa; first Prosecutor of the United Nations Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia
  4. Professor Wenqi Zhu - Law School of Renmin University, China

Saturday, October 13, 9 – 10:30am
8. Making Prevention Feasible: Overcoming the Fear of Quagmire

Governments are often reluctant to intervene against genocide because there is no viable “exit strategy”.  How can such fears be adequately addressed?  Beyond activism aimed at getting governments to act, what are strategies and policies that are likely to mitigate the political burden of intervention?  This panel will consider how decision-makers assess such situations and the factors that shape policy with a view to devising strategies that will facilitate prevention.

Chair: Professor Stephen Toope - President of the University of British Columbia

Panelists:

  1. Dr. Howard Wolpe - Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington D.C  
  2. Professor Peter Langille - Department of Political Science, University of Western Ontario
  3. Dr. Jerry Fowler – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Saturday, October 13, 9-10.30am
9. Facing History and Ourselves: Imagining a World Without Genocide

In the aftermath of genocide, survivors, perpetrators and outsiders are left at an historic crossroad.  Can they imagine a new world rebuilt from the rubble of mass violence?  This panel includes an interactive session with a videolink to the Kigali Memorial Centre in Kigali, Rwanda.  Survivors of the Rwandan genocide and General Roméo Dallaire, a witness, discuss the event and its continued impact on them and their ability and desire to participate in a nation rebuilding itself ten years on.

Chair: Professor René Provost - Director of the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism
This is an interactive session with a videolink to the Kigali Memorial Centre in Kigali, Rwanda

  1. Professor Martha Minow - Harvard Law School
  2. Lt. General (ret.) Roméo Dallaire - Member of Canadian Senate, former commander of UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda
  3. Esther Mujawayo - Rwandan genocide survivor, author and founder of AVEGA widows organization in Rwanda

Saturday, October 13, 11am – 1pm
10. The Seeds of Genocide: Hate Propaganda and the Banalization of Evil

How is it possible for ordinary people to rationalize mass-murder of other human beings?  What is the process of dehumanization that justifies, indeed compels such violence?  What has been the historical role of the media in banalizing evil to the point where savagery is glorified as an expression of heroism?  What lessons can we learn from the past about the use of hate propaganda and the prevention of genocide?  Should hate speech be banned or confronted with competing messages from other actors in society?  This panel will consider these questions based on political and academic perspectives, and through multi-media illustrations of hate propaganda in past genocides.

Chair: Professor David Scheffer - Northwestern University School of Law; former U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues
Panelists:

  1. Professor Frank Chalk - Director, Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, and Professor of History, Concordia University
  2. The Hon. Irwin Cotler - Member of Parliament, former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada; McGill University, Faculty of Law (on leave)
  3. Mark Thompson - journalist and author of Forging War: The Media in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Hercegovina (2003)

Saturday, October 13, 11am – 1pm
11. Can the ICC help stop atrocities in Darfur?

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, will discuss the ICC’s role in stopping atrocities in Darfur.  The ICC arrest warrants against Sudanese leaders have been issued during an on-going conflict.  How has this influenced the actions of the Sudanese government, the UN or other international actors?  The Prosecutor will reflect on the ICC’s experience thus far and consider the future of international criminal justice in terms of prevention of atrocities. 

Moderated by Professor Payam Akhavan.

Saturday, October 13, 2 – 3:30pm
12. Inducing the Will to Act: Humanitarian Intervention and The Responsibility to Protect Against Genocide

The doctrine of a ‘right to intervene’ has evolved into a ‘responsibility to protect’.  But there is a considerable gap between the lofty aspirations and the narrow political interest that often shape the decision-making process.  How can self-interested governments and other actors be persuaded to take costly political action to intervene against genocide?  Had the emergence of the Responsibility to Protect made an appreciable difference in how action against genocide is considered?  This panel includes leaders that have been intimately engaged in promoting this concept and will consider these questions through the prism of both practice and theory.

Chair: The Hon. Gareth Evans - Director of the International Crisis Group

Panelists:

  1. Dr. Michael Ignatieff - Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada; former Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights, Harvard University
  2. Jan Pronk - former Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Darfur
  3. Wiebe Arts - former Dutch UN peacekeeper in Srebrenica

Saturday, October 13, 2 – 3:30pm
13. Roundtable: Shaping Public Opinion: The Role of the Media

The media plays a central role in ensuring that the wider public is aware of on-going atrocities.  But genocide in distant lands has to compete with other often trivial interests that the public is interested in.  And the horrors of genocide are so overwhelming that the public feels powerless to do anything.  What is the role of the media in prioritizing and conveying such realities to the public?  How is the line between objective reporting and mobilizing public opinion reconciled?  This panel of eminent journalists will discuss the challenges confronted in dealing these dilemmas.

Chair: Professor Allan Thompson - Carleton School of Journalism and Communication

Panelists:

  1. Mark Doyle - BBC World Affairs Correspondent
  2. Colette Braeckman - Author and Staff Writer, Le Soir, Belgium
  3. Brian Stewart - CBC Senior Correspondent
  4. Roy Gutman – Correspondent for Newsday, and Director of Crimes of War Project
  5. Mary Kimani – Africa Section of the United Nations Department of Information

Saturday, October 13, 4 – 6pm
14. The Challenge of Moral Leadership: Lessons from the Past, Visions for the Future

What does leadership mean in the context of confronting genocide?  How can moral vision and power realities be reconciled?  What lessons can future leaders learn from the recent past in order to transform the political culture that has so often failed the victims of genocide?  This discussion with eminent leaders will include a dialogue with the Young Leaders Forum and a reflection of how the experiences of the past should shape our strategies and vision for the future.

Chair: Professor Payam Akhavan - Faculty of Law, McGill University

Panelists:

  1. Sir Shridath Ramphal - former Secretary-General of the British Commonwealth
  2. Salih Mahmoud Osman – Sudanese lawyer and human rights activist
  3. Lt. General (ret.) Roméo Dallaire - Member of Canadian Senate, former commander of UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda

     In conversation with the Young Leaders 2007


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