“Never again!”, the world said in unison, after the horrors and the trauma of the Second World War. Humanity then made a promise to itself, to that and future generations.
And yet, it has continued to happen – in the systems and governments, the countries and societies that followed. One Hitler was not enough. One Holocaust was not enough.
As the world was reeling from the genocide the Nazis had committed, the UN was established – lest such horrors happen again, in the history of the world; the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide agreed on, ratified, acceded to, by the nations of the world.
‘Never again! – must such evil be allowed to occur; humanity, henceforth, shall have the collective responsibility, to protect any society, any group, any ethnicity, from any attempt to destroy it, whether in whole or in part, and no matter where in the world.’
This then was these generations’ promise – as relevant now as in 1950 – to a future humanity, a future world, the promise of the civilised world, forged out of the horrors of an unprecedented genocide.
And yet, it would occur – again and again – in different regions, under different governments and systems, in many societies.
In the decades after the Second World War, humanity did not keep its promise. The ‘civilised world’ has not been able to adhere to its own rules, or to fulfil its own, self-defining aspirations.
Over 70 years ago, the international community finally agreed that there exists such a crime as ‘genocide’; many countries then ratified the convention on the prevention of that crime – its definition since long established, so well laid out, so clearly outlined.
Yet, according to that definition, genocides have continued to happen.
Humanity has not learned lasting lessons; that promise of “Never again!” – made to us, the current generations, by generations passed – is broken, has been broken, decade after decade. The Convention itself now, too, stands as a symbol of a promise – unfulfilled, a standard of international law – unattained, justice – undelivered, protection – unachieved.
And once again, indisputably faced with yet another genocide, yet another dictator, this time in Ethiopia, the world still will not intervene, not politically, not economically, not militarily, hardly, it seems, even just morally.
As if to underline the relevance and accuracy of the definition of the crime of genocide as stated in the Convention, it is estimated that, in the Tigray war, more than 800,000 civilians have been murdered, over 120,000 girls and women raped; infrastructure, industries, historic artifacts – either looted, or intentionally damaged or destroyed, livestock slaughtered, wild animals killed, arable land and the once so lush vegetation alike – burned and vandalised. And still, the suffering continues, day by day; despite the signing of a ‘peace deal’, the blockade continues to exact its relentless toll on the once so prosperous, flourishing and stable region. Ethiopian society has essentially collapsed, as the country has turned into an autocracy, where neither human lives nor facts matter.
One Hitler, one Third Reich, many genocides – it still was not enough. The lessons humanity could have learned, has attempted to learn since, have not been learned. That solemn promise, yet to be fulfilled.
Manipulative autocrats succeed in their devious plans; duplicitous dictators continue to mislead and cheat, to lie and deceive. Disinformation, regime propaganda – obvious to all, rational-thinking and familiar with that society – continues to be effective, so that the international community does not recognise the urgency, or understand that what is taking place fits their definition of genocide, as described in that convention, all these generations, all these eras, all these political changes, all these systems ago.
At this very moment, humanity is failing itself – these generations, future generations, and the generations to which that promise was first made, in the language of a long bygone time.
The shame of this belongs to all of humanity – a lasting shame that it will, it seems, never be free of.