for the establishment of the
Budapest Centre for the International Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities
Dr. Istvan Lakatos
Human Rights Ambassador
Enzo Maria Le Fevre
Special Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
1. Introduction by the Hungarian Foreign Minister 2. Introduction by the Hungarian Task Force in charge of the Feasibility Study
The Human Rights Ambassador
The Special Advisor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
3. Executive Summary 4. Introduction to the Feasibility Study
Purpose of this Document
Justification - Gaps and requirements
5. The establishment of the Budapest Centre for the International Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities
The priorities of the Centre
The functions of the Centre
The mandate of the Centre
The location of the Centre
The partnerships of the Centre
The partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary
The partnership with the UN
The partnership with the EU
The partnership with the AU
The partnership with other regional and sub-regional organizations
The partnership with relevant NGOs in the field of genocide prevention
The structure of the Centre
The Advisory Board
The Executive Board
The Board of donors
The operative structure
The legal framework of the Centre
The foundation setting
The partnership agreements
The financial study for the realization of the Centre and its sustainability
The timeline of action
ANNEX 1 Letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs by the UN Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide
ANNEX 2 Letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs by the HR/SG of the European Union
ANNEX 3 Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the Five Point Action Plan and the activities of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide
ANNEX 4 The Annual report of the UN Secretary General on the implementation of the Action Plan published in 2008
ANNEX 5 Outcome Document of the High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly in September 2005 (art. 138 – 140)
At the First Budapest Human Rights Forum on the 28th of August 2008, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary announced the decision of the Hungarian Government to prepare a Feasibility Study on the possible establishment of a Centre for the International Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities in Budapest. By launching this initiative the Government of Hungary wished to promote the cause of prevention of genocide on the occasion of commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary, by submitting this Feasibility Study, wishes to present the preparation on the establishment of the Budapest Centre for the International Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities to the Governments, Institutions, Organizations and Foundations who believe in the necessity of create a tool for the prevention of genocide.
The Feasibility Study report not only assessed the needs that led to this initiative but deeply analyzed the political, legal and financial implications that the creation of the Centre will require.
Gaps in the prevention of genocide and justifications of the Hungarian initiative
The framework of the prevention of genocide has been growing since 2004 and this Feasibility Study, that empowers the initiative to institutionalize such framework, is based upon the work carried out by many dedicated experts, diplomats, and international civil servants who do their utmost in the interest of the prevention of genocide.
Despite the significant progress, the second half of the 20th century has, unfortunately, witnessed several genocides and mass atrocities even after the Holocaust. That fact stresses the need to continue the efforts to fill the gap between the political will for preventing genocide and establishing the necessary international mechanisms for effective operations.
Recent research shows and makes evident that, even if escalation to mass violence often happens swiftly, the progression of events toward genocide is gradual, and that the months from initial threat to full genocide offer ample warning time for the international community to take preventive action. It means that genocide is preventable! The international community should make use of this fact to increase the efficiency of its activities in this field.
The Five Point Action Plan to prevent genocide issued by the UN Secretary General in April 2004 and the Annual report of the UN Secretary General on the implementation of the Action Plan published in 2008 identified numerous gaps and tasks including the need for “early and clear warning of situations that could potentially degenerate into genocide” as well as “swift and decisive action along a continuum of steps” where advancement is required.
According to the UNSG Annual Report, another major obstacle in addressing the threats and risks in the context of genocide and mass atrocities is the lack of institutional capacity.
The establishment of an institutionalized mechanism able to promote and/or coordinate an international network of players and stakeholders, as well of regional focal points, closely linked to both global and regional decision making bodies would be a further requirement for progress towards effective actions.
The Budapest Centre for the International Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities could substantially narrow the abovementioned gaps for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities.
The Centre being a totally independent body should establish special links to UN institutions and agencies, in particular with the Office of the Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide, and as a European based structure should have a close relationship with the decision-making mechanisms of the European Union and its institutions.
At the same time, it should establish specific partnerships with other regional organisations, like the African Union, the OSCE, the Organization of American States and the ASEAN and sub-regional organizations such as the ECOWAS, the IGAD and the SADEC that would offer complementary strengths and cooperative opportunities. It should also develop cooperation with other institutions including international and local NGOs, which are active in the field of conflict prevention, particularly in prevention of genocide and mass atrocities.
The Centre will concentrate its efforts on bridging the gap between early warning and early action in the context of genocide and mass atrocities by providing the international political actors with comprehensive political and technical recommendations
The Centre will set up and apply an integrated warning-response support system which will formulate policy recommendations and generate political consensus for early action at international and regional level. After collecting, thoroughly cross-checking and further processing the huge amount of available information and risk assessments related to genocide and mass atrocities, the Centre will inform "in advance enough" on the evolving threats the international decision making mechanisms to become aware of the threats and start shaping policies, elaborating projects and strategies as well as undertaking preventive actions. Moreover, the Centre will - in close cooperation with the concerned regional and sub-regional organizations, NGOs and other stakeholders - elaborate and put tailored and viable options and recommendations at the disposal of the decision-making bodies. The special and regular dialogue with the main decision making mechanisms at all levels would also enable the Centre to call the attention in an operative way to the possible threats occurring in short-term and requiring urgent responses.
The function and actions of the Centre
The main function of the Centre and its efforts to bridge the gap between early warning and early action will be carried out with the support of some specific activities.
The Centre should monitor sensitive and volatile situations from the perspective of genocide and mass atrocities, including ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. It will apply a specific early warning aggregator mechanism based on reliable quantitative data measured by the same indicators over a long period of time, combined with qualitative analysis.
The aggregator mechanism should primarily rely on the tools and results of activities carried out by numerous organizations and institutions specialized on various models detecting genocide and mass atrocities, it should also use specific tools of open-source-intelligence. The Centre should constantly monitor the work of international organisations and NGOs acting in the field and reporting on specific conflict situations. It should analyse each report with respect to its own mandate and formulate specific early warning analysis in response. In order to increase its reliability, the information will be checked, processed and analysed by experts stemming from the relevant continent/region and employed by the Centre. The assessments of the Centre should also be shared with the relevant regional organizations, including the African Union, ECOWAS, IGAD, SADEC, ASEAN, Arab League, OAS, OSCE, CoE, and with specialized bodies such as the Joint Situation Centre of the European Union and the Crisis Room of the European Commission as well as with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of some States being active in the concerned region and country.
Based on the assessments elaborated on individual countries the Centre should generate a specific “Watch list” on countries threatened by genocide and massive and serious human rights violations. This main product of the Centre should contribute to the elaboration of an early warning protocol for countries, regions and specific institutions for the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities.
Between the updates of periodic assessments the Centre should systematically track the events, monitor the situations in the countries on the list and assess the signs of escalation through applying tools of open source intelligence, organizing regular visits in the field and consulting with regional organizations and other partners focusing on genocide and mass atrocities which have reliable information on the evolvements.
In case of need it should prepare ad hoc risk assessments and analyses with a view to early alert policymakers in the global and regional organizations.
In order to institutionalize its international cooperation, the Centre should undersign bilateral Memorandums of Understanding or arrive at any political agreement with the organizations and institutions mentioned above which will allow for exchange of information, consultation and interaction on regular basis. The set of agreements and MoUs should constitute the basis for creating an international network focusing on prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. At the same time, it will serve as framework for a multilateral anti-genocide partnership that should try to promote sharing of information and facilitate synchronized interaction.
Through intensive networking, the Centre should facilitate cooperation among global and regional organizations, as well as international and national public and private bodies to deal with prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. Moreover, it should foster cooperative networks of like-minded institutions—scientific and academic communities, educational and religious organizations, businesses, and the media.
The Centre should provide analysis, recommendations, methodology and support on mediation efforts in situations of instability that could lead to genocidal actions.
The Centre should try to centralise and improve the quality of information, and map existing competence in the field of genocide prevention. It should establish an inventory of the different agencies involved in genocide prevention at international and regional level, as well as within civil society organisations, academic centres and corporations. In this way, it will be possible to mobilize capabilities beyond anything ever done before.
Moreover the activities of the Centre should try to connect academics and experts in the field of prevention of genocide and mass atrocities contributing to the consolidation and expansion of a theoretical framework capable of contributing to the mission of the Centre.
In carrying out these activities, the Centre should rely on the capabilities and experience of the numerous governmental agencies and NGOs as well as academic circles that focus on the subject of genocide and mass atrocities.
The Centre should also facilitate meetings and workshops aimed at enhancing cooperation among the stakeholders, actors, donors, NGOs and representatives of media at regional level where the concrete tasks and challenges could be set on the agenda from the perspectives of genocide and mass atrocities.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs firmly believes that the main function and the activity fields of the Centre are interconnected one to the other and will be integrated progressively into its work. This suggests that there will be a gradual expansion of the Centre’s activities and personnel.
The location of the Centre in Hungary
In 2008 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary has adopted a human rights concept for a more visible and efficient human rights diplomacy. This new concept tried to be adapted to the fact that in 2004 Hungary became member of the European Union, which requires a much broader scope of activities in the field of human rights. Besides our traditional human rights priorities, like minority protection, or civil and political rights, genocide prevention should have an important place on our human rights agenda.
The fact that several humanitarian organizations (UNHCR – Regional Office and Global Service and Learning Centre, IOM – Regional Office, IFRC – European Zone Office) have decided to establish or outpost their regional, or administrative centres to Budapest provides an important network for the Centre to receive first hand information and to mobilize the international community about urgent cases. The fact that most of these humanitarian organizations are covering the countries of the Balkans as well, makes their possible role even more important.
The fact that Hungary does not have the burden of a colonial past and it has a good or at least neutral relationship with countries in Africa, Asia or Latin America would facilitate the acceptance of the Centre in these regions. The above-mentioned facts ensure that the Centre could work as an independent institution without any interference by the government.
The Centre can have a very positive effect on the whole region, by disseminating the culture of dialogue, the importance of knowing each other’s history, culture and tradition and by this it can contribute to the strengthening of tolerance and mutual understanding in our societies where political extremism is spreading.
The legal and financial framework of the Centre
The legal framework of the Centre should ensure the transparency, and accountability about the work of the Centre, which is of paramount importance for donors. The Centre should be established as an independent legal entity. For the legal form of the Centre the foundation seems to be the best solution under the Hungarian law. Taking this into consideration, the Centre either will be established by eminent human rights experts or/and by internationally recognized Institutions. This would ensure the Centre’s independence of governments, so that it could operate as a real non-governmental organization. The Centre should be established as an open foundation so that it could receive donations from anyone who would like to support it.
The foundation should be registered as a public benefit organization according to the Hungarian Act on public benefit organizations. Besides the fact that non-profit organizations, which have been registered as public benefit organizations, enjoy some advantages of tax allowances and exemptions in many fields, they have to comply with the stringent conditions of the Act which are stipulated in order to ensure transparency through the strict rules of publicity, state supervision and conflict of interest. Meeting the requirements of transparency is the precondition of the registration of the foundation as a public benefit organization and of the beginning of its public benefit operation.
The Ministry envisages an approximate budget for the Centre between 2 and 2,5 million € for its yearly functioning. The Feasibility Study recommends the Centre to foresee the collection of funding necessary to cover at least the first three years of functioning of the Centre before its full operability. The funding should be based on a wide range of donors to assure the internationalization of its mandate.
The structure of the Centre
The Feasibility Study foresees the Centre to be composed of four major bodies: an Advisory Board, an Executive Board, a Board of Donors and the Operative Structure.
The Advisory Board will be composed of 15 prominent experts devoted to the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. The Advisory Board will be empowered to recommend the Executive Board and the Executive Director on the Strategic planning of the Centre’s activities as well it will elect the Director of the Centre to ensure its independence. The members of the Advisory Board will meet at least once a year in Budapest.
The Executive Board will be composed of 5 prominent experts in the field of genocide prevention. The Executive Board will prepare the decisions of the Advisory Board and will contribute to their implementation in collaboration with the Director of the Centre.
The Board of Donors or Supervisory Board will gather representatives of States, institutes or foundations who financially contributed to the budget of the Centre. They will receive annually a briefing about the work of the Centre. It is our hope that this Board will provide a forum to strengthen the cooperation among countries that consider genocide prevention as a high priority on their agenda.
The Centre and its Operative Structure will benefit from the work of a team of political analysts, genocide prevention experts of all regions, giving them the chance to deal with their own regions as a member of a global staff dedicated to genocide and mass atrocities prevention.
The Task Force in charge of the Feasibility Study on behalf of Government of Hungary would like to take this opportunity to express its gratitude for all those dedicated experts, diplomats, international civil servants and members of NGOs and Academia who do their utmost in the interest of the establishment of the Centre.