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Statement by Mr. Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, on the situation in Syria
The Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect
8 July 2013
Special Adviser Adama Dieng is deeply concerned by the escalating use of rhetoric by political and religious leaders in a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa regions, in the context of the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic. In recent statements, certain religious leaders have portrayed the conflict in Syria as a religious conflict and have denigrated the beliefs of parties to the conflict and their allies.
“History has shown that exploiting religious tensions in the context of a political and armed struggle may incite violence and could lead to large scale atrocities,” stated Special Adviser Adama Dieng. “Such rhetoric, when it constitutes incitement to violence on religious grounds, could exacerbate the already disastrous violence in Syria, lead to further war crimes and crimes against humanity and fuel tensions between different groups both in Syria and elsewhere in the region.”
All leaders – whether religious, political or military – have a responsibility and a crucial role to
play in speaking out against any hate speech that encourages intolerance or discriminatory
stereotyping, or that constitutes incitement to violence. (…) Advocacy of hatred that constitutes
incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is also prohibited under international human
rights law.
“I urge all leaders in the wider region to act responsibly and refrain from using or condoning any
language that may escalate sectarian tensions. The consequences of rhetoric that inflames these
tensions will be felt by populations across the region,” said Mr. Dieng. (…)
“All States must refrain from contributing to such crimes, including by tolerating hate speech
and incitement to violence against particular populations,” stated Mr. Dieng. “If we do not act
now, there is a serious risk that sectarian violence could spread across the region.”
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