26 July 2011 - A two-day seminar on preventing and responding to genocide and mass atrocities ended at The New Sudan Hotel in Juba today.
The seminar was hosted by the UNMISS Human Rights section and facilitated by Francis Deng, a Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect.
The event, opened yesterday by Hilde F. Johnson, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for South Sudan, featured two guest speakers -- cultural anthropologist Charles Mironko and Nigel Eltringham, a lecturer in anthropology at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.
Also attending the seminar were the heads of various UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, civil society groups, religious leaders and women's representatives.
"This seminar provides a unique opportunity for the participants to acquire knowledge on how to support the development of policies, institutions and the legal framework to prevent mass atrocities," said Ms. Johnson in her opening remarks.
"The Republic of South Sudan has recently joined...the community of nations as a sovereign state," she said, adding that "it was just recognized as a new member-state of the United Nations, highlighting the need for its government to exercise its responsibility to protect its own citizens from violence".
Ms. Johnson also noted the recent opening of a new UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan that has "a new mandate and a new approach" under the terms of UN Security Council resolution 1996.
"The UNMISS mandate...calls for the Office of the SRSG to support the government of the Republic of South Sudan in the areas of conflict prevention, mitigation and resolution," she said. "If civilians are under threat and there is a failure to protect them, we do have a mandate to act as a UN mission."
For his part, Mr. Deng described the seminar as "part of the awareness raising and training on genocide prevention carried out by my office in different parts of the world to acquaint the audiences to understand the nature of genocide and what kind of preventive measures can be taken by government, states and stakeholders".
"This seminar is symbolic in that we are in a country that has just been born but which has a vision, a vision which we believe we can work with in order to promote our principles of preventing genocide and mass atrocities through constructive management of diversity," he said. Also attending the seminar were the heads of various UN agencies, nongovernmental organizations, civil society groups, religious leaders and women's representatives.
A native of the disputed border region of Abyeiand author of 40 books, Mr. Deng was scheduled to give a public lecture in Juba on 28 July on the challenges of identity and nationhood.