INTERNATIONAL JUDICIAL FORUM "New Proposals for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide", Colombia - Dr. Jesus Hernando Alvarez Mora
INTERNATIONAL JUDICIAL FORUM
"New Proposals for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide"
Benjamin Herrera Auditorium
Universidad Libre of Colombia
Monday, September 22, 2014
Dr. Jesus Hernando Alvarez Mora
Dean of the Faculty of Law at Universidad Libre
Opening of the Forum
Good morning everyone, and to the members of the main panel and Dr. William Soto Santiago, Global Ambassador of Peace, we warmly welcome you to the University and express our gratitude to you and all of the members of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace for having accepted our invitation, and for joining us. We truly feel incredibly honored by your decision. A very special greeting to our Supreme Court President, Luis Gabriel Miranda, welcome, this is your home, thank you very much for being here. To Dr. Camilo Montoya Reyes, our professor, thank you very much... an organizer here in Colombia (together with his wife), of this important forum. We thank you very much. Your initiative at Universidad Libre has been most kind in making it possible for us to host this important forum. To Dr. Carlos Ubate Ortega, our Head of Criminal Law, you have been the internal organizer (so to speak), in the development of this forum, we are so grateful for your help!
Our warm greetings to all the guests, the ministers of High Courts, academics, prosecutors; to the judges, the members of human rights organizations, the teachers, professors, local guests, international guests, students, we welcome each and every one of you and express our gratitude to you for being here at this important forum on "New Proposals for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide."
Before making a few opening statements, allow me to express the apologies of the University’s National President, Dr. Victor Alvarado Hernando Ardila, and the National Rector, Mr. Nicolas Enrique Zuleta Hincapie, whom at the moment, unfortunately for us, had to attend to a visit from the Ministry of Education regarding the renewal of the accreditation of our Systems Engineering program, which prevented them from being here with you at this opening; Dr. Soto, it was their desire to accompany us. So please accept our apologies on behalf of our national directors.
The fact is that... I must say the following in three short minutes: Universidad Libre has existed for 91 years. It was founded on February 13, 1923, but this University truly began its development about two decades earlier, two decades before that. This university began in the minds of two gentlemen who, given the restrictions of the 19th century, had to resort to the hateful mechanism of weapons because there was no alternative for political participation, for economic participation, for social participation, for any type of participation in Colombia due to the government of that time, called "the conservative hegemony", which was extremely authoritarian and restrictive of freedom. And these two gentlemen, who are our idols, Mr. Rafael Uribe Uribe and Mr. Benjamin Herrera, once peace was signed, they wanted to leave to Colombia and the world an institution that would educate people regardless of their origin, regardless of their socio-economic status, that would educate people so that they might become pluralistic, democratic, tolerant individuals, committed to democracy and committed to peace.
These two gentlemen, one of them being the overseer, Rafael Uribe Uribe, who was viciously murdered in 1914, and Benjamin Herrera, were the creators of this academic project that we love so much and for which we are so grateful.
And we say this to emphasize that we, this institution, is a committed institution and has been committed to peace throughout its existence—from the classrooms, to the forums, to the debates, we have always been here. The institution was born in a post-conflict era, and now we’re going to work very hard, and we are working very hard.
Every Saturday we host a great debate at the Gerardo Molina Auditorium in favor of peace, which we are so in need of in Colombia, and in favor of a manageable post-conflict life, one that will serve to build a better country in order to restore our social fabric, which has been torn by many years of war.
For that reason, because of that same University philosophy, the very same political and academic stakes of the University, when Dr. Camilo Montoya, with his generosity–which defines him–knocked on our doors to carry out this global forum, this international forum on "New Proposals for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide", we said: "Dr. Montoya, two things: one, thank you very much; the other, this is the place for it." Because if there is an institution that is committed to peace, it’s Universidad Libre; if there is an institution committed to human rights, it’s Universidad Libre. And if it is necessary today to work for human rights, and it’s clear that it is, if it’s necessary to work for human rights, we'll be there, of course we will be there!
Because it seems, ladies and gentlemen, it seems that there are many weapons in stockpile. I think that would explain why wars don’t seem to stop, why conflicts are not stopping; manifestations of hatred are not stopping. Even now, in the 21st century, we go on as if we were at the outset of the 20th century. Look at all of the manifestations of regional conflicts we’re living through that are making an international impact; it seems as though we have not evolved in that regard, the difference being that today’s weapons are "more effective". There seems to be a great stockpile of weapons, and that seems to make hatred emerge based on different reasons to justify the "waging of war between peoples, or internal wars," which is even more cruel, because it’s between brethren.
When they invite us to talk about genocide, as Dr. Soto Santiago rightly stated, they invite us to talk about the capital crime, about the most heinous crime, about those numerous acts against peoples, against minorities, against groups… those crimes or that crime that encompasses an array of crimes, and which, for that reason, constitutes the most shameful crime of humanity.
And of course, one would think after what happened in Ukraine in the 1930’s, after World War II, that we would no longer live… that humanity would not live through these atrocities, and that this has ended, that it’s over, that we have learned the lesson after millions of people were killed because of hatred, because of race, because of ethnicity, because of religion, because of politics, but instead... due to disease, the human pathology... because we would assume that the former would’ve ended forever. After so many books have been written on the subject, by so many authors, by such intelligent people condemning these acts, we would assume that now there are not going to be any more crimes of genocide, that humanity learned its lesson, but it seems not, it seems that it hasn’t. Rwanda, Guatemala, to give some examples, are living examples of the fact that we have not learned the lesson.
And furthermore, something very serious, ladies and gentlemen, which is the technological development that we’ve seen in communication, which has been so useful to humanity, but that now stands as a means to immediately spread hatred and vengeance. This could lead to—if we do not take global action to prevent these genocides, this hatred, these vengeful acts, these deaths—us having further expressions of this human evil that we want to end forever.
For this reason, Universidad Libre feels honored, extremely honored, to serve as the academic forum for this great international event, which I understand is... not going to be the only one. I understand that there will be other forums in other parts of the world, and hopefully we will be able to be there to accompany you, Dr. Soto, on that noble path of yours. Which truly… when Dr. Camilo Montoya spoke to us about this forum, I researched you, I looked at the website, I found out about your work, and it truly is admirable; it is truly very noble. The world is already indebted to you, but it will owe you much more the day we are able to "prevent rather than punish,"—as you so well put it—the crimes of genocide.
Ladies and gentlemen, we hope you will feel at home. Universidad Libre is your home. This forum is for you, this physical space is for you, and we hope you do not forget us in your countries, in your institutions. We are always here to serve the country, committed to the post-conflict stage, committed to peace, committed to the driving force of the development of nations, which is education.
Thank you very much.