Today, on this first International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime, I join people all over the world in commemorating and honouring the victims of genocide.
We must always face up to the past and in particular acknowledge those who suffered. Only by remembering can we strengthen our collective resolve to prevent such crimes from ever happening again. Whether committed in time of peace or war, genocide is a crime under international law which we have collectively undertaken "to prevent and to punish."
The primary responsibility lies with the state in which the crime is committed. But we also have a collective responsibility. Today's ongoing crises in various parts of the world underline the imperative to prevent genocide and other mass atrocity crimes in line with the Responsibility to Protect, which was agreed, as a principle, by world leaders 10 years ago at the 2005 World Summit, in which States committed to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
In particular, we must stay focussed on identifying early signs. Genocide and other mass atrocities crimes are not single events but deliberate actions which evolve over time and require planning and resources to be carried out. Going from early warning to early action is essential.
The EU is committed to atrocity crime prevention as an integral part of our conflict prevention work, including the EU early warning system. We also support the fight against impunity on many fronts, also in the framework of our Common Security and Defence Policy missions. The EU human rights and development policies enhance the protection of civilians by building capable institutions and promoting the respect of the human rights of all, including of persons belonging to minorities.
So today, more than ever, we must turn our longstanding commitment to Responsibility to Protect into collective action. The 9th of December commemoration should serve as a reminder and a platform for collective action, to ensure that we come together with determination and resolve to prevent and halt mass atrocity crimes once and for all.