ON Friday December 9, the United Nations marked the first International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide.
There was no big event, just time to reflect on the appalling fact that more than two decades after Rwanda and Bosnia, and more than a decade after the worst atrocities in Darfur, genocidal campaigns are being waged from Syria to South Sudan, from Myanmar to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Campaign group United to End Genocide has another 10 countries on its watch list: Afghanistan, Burundi, Guinea, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, and Yemen.
These conflicts have varied and complex origins, from geopolitical power struggles to elites that simply want to cling to power, but differences in ethnicity, race, nationality or religion are increasingly being exploited to further military objectives with horrific consequences.
Often it’s civilians – including women and children – who pay the price. Violent extremism also shows no sign of abating, while xenophobia and hate crimes are on the rise in Western democracies just as populism and nationalism are on the march.
It’s a deeply depressing state of affairs as 2016 heads towards a close. Let’s hope 2017 brings better news.