Cornelio Sommaruga on high-level panel at the UN

IofC Caux

On Wednesday March 25, Cornelio Sommaruga was invited to participate as the honorary President of Initiatives of Change International (IofC) at side-event during the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.  The event was entitled, From early warning to early action: how to make early warning mechanisms more effective.

It was co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of Italy and Sierra Leone as well as the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect.  UN was launching a new early warning mechanism against atrocities which will be accompanied by seminars and training sessions in various parts of the world to put it into good use.

The other speakers included International Law Professor Marco Sassoli, Mr. Adama Dieng, Special Advisor of the United Nations Secretary-General on the prevention of Genocide (who presented his office’s new Framework of Analysis) as well as representatives from Human Rights Watch, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the two Ambassadors of the co-sponsoring missions.

During the introductions, Mr. Sommaruga was referred to as the “Godfather” for all his important contributions to humanitarian work, not least of which being on a panel, led by Ambassador Sahnoun, that produced the original Responsibility to Protect concept.  All of the panelists were asked to comment on the new Framework of Analysis, and Mr. Sommaruga made reference to the work of IofC globally and to the Caux conferences with a special mention of how the work has built trust between people of different religions. He explained how IofC was actually made up of people of many different faiths and since it worked on the link between global and personal change naturally worked with different religions and the understanding between them all while remaining neutral and open to people of all backgrounds including those not adhering to any religion.  He mentioned the work in Lebanon and across the Middle East, in the UK, the work of the Imam and the pastor and the use IofC makes of their film, and of course mentioned some of the various inter-religious moments at Caux.

In the full room, a lively question and answer session followed the various presentations and copies of the new UN tool were made available. Though a small step, it is a step forward for the UN to produce hands-on practical tools and of course. IofC is of course delighted that to help promote this new tool through this side-event but has also been asked to see how it help promote it on the ground. 

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