UN speech denounces genocide

Stephen DeFilippo, Stephen DeFilippo, and Stephen DeFilippo

“We are here for a very somber topic this morning,” Dr. Robert Orr said as he introduced his preventable genocide speech to a packed Fé Bland Forum Saturday.

Orr, the assistant secretary general for policy coordination and strategic planning for the United Nations, was keynote speaker for the Santa Barbara Coalition for Global Dialogue sponsored fall forum, “Preventable Genocide: Who speaks for Humanity.”

He talked about the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Africa, the UN’s involvement, and the actions needed to prevent genocide.

Orr noted the media’s neglect in covering the events in Darfur and stressed the hidden urgency of the matter. He called for “collective action,” saying that there are many ways people could get involved.

“Let representatives know how you feel,” Orr said. “Let them know you care about Darfur.”

Orr also made the UN’s global function clear.

“The UN was not made to create heaven. It was made to keep us from going to hell and genocide is the ultimate hell,” he said. Though Orr admitted that the UN is imperfect, he argued that it was also indispensable.

Orr emphasized the importance of supporting UN efforts, Humanitarian workers, and the African Union.

After speaking for 35 minutes, Orr’s closing words reinforced the idea of responsibility. “Who speaks for humanity?” he asked. “We do, we must.”

A panel comprised of public relations and educational representatives of the UN sat to Orr’s left and offered complimentary commentary after he spoke.

The four panelists were Marie Clarke Brill who is the acting co-executive director and director for public education and mobilization for Africa Action. City College teachers Manou Eskandari and David Morris were also present. And from Princeton University, Richard Falk, currently the Visiting Distinguished Professor of Global Studies at UCSB, rounded out the group.

The panel added to the discussion, noting larger-scale genocide happening across our planet in the form of global warming.

Orr, along with the panelists, answered questions submitted by the audience before the event concluded.

Outside the Fé Bland Forum, tables for various groups ranging from the Santa Barbara County United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation offered their support for the cause.

The Bush administration acknowledged that there is indeed an ongoing genocide in Darfur over 790 days ago.

The administration has yet to take the urgent action necessary for stopping the genocide, Brill said.

The speakers implored the audience to visit africaaction.org to help further efforts to prevent genocide in Darfur.