December 12, 2008

Rafael Lemkin remembered


The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation has celebrated this week the life of Rafal Lemkin, the acclaimed Polish lawyer who first coined the term Genocide, back in the 1930’s.

Plaque at the foreign ministry, unveiled, dedicated to Lemkin by the then Minister of Foreign Affairs Adam Daniel Rotfeld, 2005

The Wallenberg Foundation celebrates Lemkin’s life and achievements this week as on December 9th., 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Lemkin (1901-59) was the main driving force behind this important resolution.

The former UN Secretary General – Mr Kofi Annan, who is married to Nane Annan (Raoul Wallenberg’s niece) – said that Lemkin ”gave a new name to an old crime”.

One of the founders of the Wallenberg, Mr Baruch Tenembaum, says that ”Lemkin’s legacy is very relevant in our time since crimes of genocide are still being perpetrated. Through Lemkin we not only remember the millions of human beings who have been persecuted throughout history, up to these very days, but also the courageous rescuers who risked their own lives to save fellow human beings in plight”

Rafal Lemkin was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and published in 1944 his most widely known work, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe (pg)