NEW YORK, 10th December, 2015 (WAM) — The United Nations on Wednesday marked the first International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and the Prevention of this Crime to remember what it calls the victims of the “crime of crimes”, and to call for action against the rise of hostility, xenophobia and intolerance across the world.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message that “there is a need to pay more attention to the warning signs, and be prepared to take immediate action to address them.

“After all, genocide does not just happen; it unfolds over time. It is not part of the accidental ‘fallout’ of conflict; most often, it is systematic, planned, with precise targets, and it can also take place outside of conflict situations,” he said.

The UN chief warned there is a dangerous “us versus them” dynamic that is often being exploited to justify the exclusion of communities based on different forms of identity such as religion, ethnicity or ‘other,’ and to deny assistance, restrict human rights and perpetrate atrocious acts of violence.

“On this new international observance, let us recognise the need to work together more concertedly to protect individuals from gross human rights violations and uphold our common humanity,” he said.

At UN Headquarters in New York, the world body marked its first-ever commemoration of the International Day, designated as 9th December by the UN General Assembly, with a performance by the UN Symphony Orchestra and a minute of silence in honour of all those people around the world who have perished through the crime of genocide.