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Ten years after the Nuremberg Declaration on Peace and Justice, the fight against impunity at a crossroad

Video statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

21 October 2017

Excellencies, Dear Friends,

I am so sorry I couldn’t be with you today -- ten years after we met to negotiate the Declaration in Nuremburg and settle some basic questions: whether peace should be attained at any cost? Even if it meant impunity for the perpetrators or forsaking justice for the victims of atrocity crimes. And ultimately would it even be peace?-- a sustainable peace and not some superficial peace or temporary cease-fire. And why do victims sink so quickly to the bottom of a mediator’s set of priorities, once the final peace negotiations begin?

The Declaration answers, and then settles, these issues and yet, a simple glance today at Colombia or Sri Lanka is evidence enough just how relevant the Declaration still is. Also, should we not ask: Would we have had a war in Yemen, had an amnesty not been provided to Ali Abdullah Saleh the former president of Yemen? I think not! Or, as the conflict seemingly begins to wind down in Syria -- although few doubt it will be an easy transition to a post-conflict environment -- will amnesties rear their ugly head again? Maybe yes— we human beings are still unreliable and untrustworthy.

This meeting therefore is centrally important and I look forward to hearing about your conclusions. Allow me finally to thank Ambassador Christian Much for his inspirational leadership over this initiative – his energy and passion for these issues hasn’t changed over the twenty years that I have known him. Thank you Christian and a thank you to all the governments, civil society organizations and the distinguished participants who have continued to support this crucial crucial work!