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Knights of Columbus CEO: UN has vital role in resolving genocide in Middle East

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The United Nations can play a vital role in helping resolve the genocide and related humanitarian crisis now unfolding in the Middle East, said Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson in a presentation at the world body’s headquarters in New York.

Anderson spoke at the U.N. as part of a panel discussion sponsored by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See that focused on human rights abuses, including the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Highlighting the evidence that led the United States to declare the situation in the Middle East genocide, Anderson noted that the United Nations can play a key role by working to secure “a future in the region that helps to preserve pluralism by protecting the victims and refugees, and by ensuring the survival in the region of ancient indigenous and religious communities, by punishing the perpetrators and by supporting the establishment of internationally agreed-upon standards of justice, equality, rule of law and religious freedom.”

He pointed out that ISIS consistently violates the four main goals found in the preamble of the United Nations Charter, which calls for the avoidance of war, the protection of human rights, the promotion of justice and international law, and the fostering of development and freedom.

In his recommendations for the international community, Anderson said the U.N. Security Council should refer key perpetrators of genocide for prosecution by the International Criminal Court and, while the substantial evidence of genocide already exists, “further action should be taken to develop additional documentation before physical evidence is lost.” The U.N. General Assembly in 2005 unanimously adopted the Responsibility to Protect, which includes the pledge of all nations and the United Nations to protect populations from genocide.

Second, he said, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees should make provisions for locating and providing relief to communities — such as Yazidis and Christians — that have been targeted for genocide.

“Those who wish to acquire official refugee status or immigrate find it difficult and often nearly impossible to do,” said Anderson. “Some improvements have been made, but much more needs to be done.”

Third, in order to check the social and legal inequality that is the breeding ground of genocide, Anderson said, “the U.N. should advocate for full and equal rights for religious minorities in the region.” He noted, “Religious hatred, discrimination and second-class citizenship too often constitute a way of life in the region — and it is a way of life that is an antecedent to genocide. We cannot accept one standard for human rights in the region and another standard for the rest of the world.”

Finally, Anderson said the world must prepare for an additional humanitarian crisis as ISIS’ controlled areas are liberated militarily. He argued that the international community should support both those who want to return home — and their legal claims — and those who wish to remain in the places to which they have fled.

Since 2014 the Knights of Columbus has raised more than $10.5 million to aid victims of religious persecution in the region and led a public awareness campaign prior to the U.S. State Department’s March 17 declaration that a genocide is taking place inIraq and Syria. The Knights also produced a nearly 300-page report on the evidence of genocide at the request of senior State Department officials.

The U.N. event launched the International Congress #WeAreN2016 that is being held in New York April 28-30 and focusing “on defending religious freedom and other human rights: stopping mass atrocities against Christians and other believers.” The events will include input from the victims of atrocities in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria and other countries. The three-day congress is being organized by CitizenGO and MasLibres and is co-sponsored by In Defense of Christians (IDC).

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