In 2010, Alfred de Zayas, who has served as chief of petitions at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, is the retired secretary of the UN Human Rights Committee, and former senior counsel with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke at a lecture in UCLA about the politics and laws surrounding genocides on an international level. His words, presented in full here, are laden with with excerpts from the Statute of the International Court of Justice, legitimising the claims of reparation by all those who have experienced genocide.
Every victim of genocide and crimes against humanity deserves justice. As such, every survivor and his/her descendants of the Armenian genocide deserves restitution and compensation for harms committed against the people as a whole.
One of the more interesting aspects of the article actually lies within the comments. The Armenian youth show their concern and willingness to work with an organization that unites our people as a whole, working to voice our concerns and bring justice not just in the matter of genocide, but in all issues.
“… In order to be taken seriously, we have to speak in one voice. Several different voices will undermine and weaken our case. In this respect an Armenia Diaspora Artsakh Union needs to be formed or a Universal Armenian committee should be elected and internationally recognized as the official body presenting the grievances of the Armenian people.” It’s definitely a curious idea, not one that has not been thought of before, but perhaps one that might succeed in the present where it has failed in the past. Unfortunately, there are too many headstrong Armenian organizations that would be loathe to relent their authority in favour of a higher body speaking on behalf of all of them. However, a united front by the multiple existing factions would definitely help quicken the process of achieving justice.
“…To those who would call me naive: How has realistic passivity and acquiescence worked for us? All gains we have achieved have come from activism borne of commitment to the IDEAL of justice.” These words bear the truth. We have the International Court on our side. Technically speaking, we have most of the tools necessary. What we lack in is the willpower to succeed it seems. We rather passively watch time absorb all opportunities, the strong reign over the weak and the world move on while we reflect on the past, lament and mourn. And watch. And watch. Where are the Khrimian Hayrigs of this generation? Where are the Karekin Njtehs and Trasdamad Ganayans? Where are the Tamara Atamians and Sosseh Vartanians? We applaud activism in others but forget to stand up ourselves against injustice. We despair and complain about the darkness instead of lighting a single candle to briefly lighten the oppressive presence of the lack of light.
Perhaps it’s about time for a new tactic to be utilized, one where we back our lawyers and professors, experts who can bring us forward from this standstill. Professors like de Zayas should be applauded and their words hailed from every media standpoint. Drop the passivity and adopt a headstrong proactive model!