Monday, 14 June 2010

African and Asian nations are most at risk for genocide, international forum is told By Amiram Barkat

African and Asian nations are most at risk for genocide, international forum is told
By Amiram Barkat

STOCKHOLM - The danger of genocide exists in five countries in Africa and Asia, according to an American expert who yesterday addressed the Stockholm International Convention on the Prevention of Genocide.

Barbara Harp, of the U.S. Center for Conflict Management, said there was a high risk of genocide in Sudan, Myanmar, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

She told the forum that eight other countries - Somalia, Uganda, Algeria, China, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Ethiopia - were also at risk.

Asked by Haaretz about the dangers in Israel, Harp said that experts at the center did not believe there was a strong likelihood that Israel would carry out genocide against the Palestinians. Some of the central indications for genocide and, in particular, the ideological basis, did not exist in Israel, Harp said.

"Israel behaves badly at times, and even very badly," she said, "but it is a normal country."

Zimbabwe is the most likely candidate

The question of where genocide was likely to take place in the world today was the main concern of the experts at the Stockholm meet. Samantha Powers of Harvard University and the U.S. Center for Conflict Management said that in her opinion, the most likely candidate was Zimbabwe. Most of the experts agreed that at present, the African continent was the most likely breeding ground for genocide.

The international forum concluded its deliberations yesterday with a resolution taken by the 55 participating countries.

At Israel's request, incitement to genocide was added to the phenomena mentioned in the resolution on the prevention of genocide. Israel did not object to the Swedes' request to include Islamophobia alongside anti-Semitism and xenophobia in the resolution.

The Swedish media reported yesterday that the United States and Israel had prevented an initiative to have the resolution include a mention of the International Criminal Court at The Hague as the main body designed to prevent genocide. Israeli delegation sources denied this.

The court was currently studying complaints of genocide in five countries, its chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, told the gathering. He said one of the countries was Congo, but refused to reveal the other names.

Israeli delegates expressed satisfaction with the international forum's outcome. The fact that there was no criticism of Israel at such a large international gathering was unusual, Foreign Ministry official Nimrod Barkan said.

Ministry officials also praised the Swedes for not inviting prominent pro-Palestinian speakers such as Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.

Israel was especially pleased that Prof. Yehuda Bauer, the academic adviser to the forum, and Dr. Yigael Carmon had been invited as genocide experts.

A call by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to set up a special UN supervisory mechanism to prevent genocide was not included in the final resolution, which spoke in general terms of examining the various options to prevent genocide, including the one raised by Annan.


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