By Kate Nahapetian
Founding Executive Director, Armenian Legal Center
for Justice and Human Rights (ALC)
— Darfur Women Action Group Brought Together Diverse Speakers Including international criminal prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo and former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp
Washington, DC – Kate Nahapetian, Founder of the Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights (ALC), spoke on October 28 on effective strategies for genocide prevention at Georgetown University’s Law School. The 7th annual symposium organized by the Darfur Women Action Group entitled Women and Genocide in the 21st Century: The Case of Darfur brought genocide survivors, atrocity prevention advocates, and international criminal lawyers together to discuss strategies for genocide accountability and prevention.
Discussions focused on how stop the ongoing genocide in Darfur and find lasting solutions. Survivors of the genocide in Darfur provided powerful testimony of the searing scars they endured from watching family members killed in front of them or the use of rape as an instrument of genocide. They called out for justice for atrocities that are still ongoing from an international community that is failing to notice.
“The similarities between the Armenian and Darfur genocides remind us that the mechanisms we have created so far are woefully inadequate. The conference was an excellent opportunity to try to develop new strategies and connect with atrocity prevention and human rights advocates from across disciplines, cases and countries,” said Nahapetian.
During her presentation, Nahapetian discussed the flaws in an international justice system that relies heavily on state actors for enforcement, noting the Treaty of Sevres and the initial pledges to bring perpetrators to justice and pay reparations after the Armenian Genocide. Nahapetian recommended strengthening justice mechanisms that allowed for victim communities and human rights advocates to be in the driver’s seat or have more influence. She highlighted the 2007 Genocide Accountability Act, which allows for US criminal prosecution for genocide irrespective of where the genocide was committed. Nahapetian also outlined possibilities for victim groups to bring civil cases in US courts under the Torture Victim Protection Act and Alien Tort Claims Act. Yet another avenue for redress explained Nahapetian is the possibility of suing a foreign state for the taking of properties, when it violates international laws, as Armenians are currently pursuing against Turkey in US courts.
During his keynote address, the International Criminal Court’s founding Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo recounted the international community’s failure to follow through on pledges to punish genocide perpetrators in Darfur. Nahapetian and Ocampo discussed the lessons to be learned and the calls for justice from the Armenian and Darfuri communities following his presentation.
Niemat Ahmadi, Founder and President of the Darfur Women Action Group, made an impassioned plea to never give up exclaiming, “Immunity for genocide is not an option. No matter how long it takes!”
The Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights fights to redress human rights violations emanating from the Armenian Genocide that continue to this day and undermine stability in a region that has for far too long been marred by policies founded on genocide, not human rights and justice. ALC promotes scholarship on the legal avenues for addressing the challenges emanating from the Armenian Genocide, in addition to pursuing cases in national and international courts, while promoting the protection of Armenian cultural heritage through the return of stolen properties and artifacts.
Video of Nahapetian’s presentation is available here: https://www.facebook.com/DarfurWomenActionGroup/videos/2364681220227690/