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Recognition of Genocide

Volume 724: debated on Tuesday 13 December 2022

9. If the Government will take steps to recognise (a) the Holodomor and (b) the events of 1915-16 in Armenia as genocide. (902765)

The long-standing position of the UK Government is that genocide recognition is a matter for competent courts, rather than Governments or non-judicial bodies. Our position in no way detracts from our recognition that the Holodomor is an appalling tragedy and an important part of the history of Ukraine and Europe. Similarly, although the massacres committed against Armenian people in the early 20th century were a tragic episode in that country’s history that should never be forgotten, the Government have no plans to recognise these appalling events as genocide.

November’s Holodomor Memorial Day to remember Stalin’s enforced starvation of millions of Ukrainians with the intended purpose of wiping out their entire culture and society particularly resonated in this 90th year, given what Putin is doing at the moment in that country. Every March, the Armenian diaspora solemnly commemorates the systematic extermination of more than 1 million of their forebears over an eight-year period, and there is also trouble in that region now in Nagorno-Karabakh. Our closest ally, the US, recognises both of these as genocide. Given the painful reverberations today, why can’t we?

As I have said, our consistent view across successive Governments—not just this one—is that the recognition of genocide is a matter for judicial bodies, not Governments. However, we take allegations seriously, and we work hard to end violations of international human rights law, to prevent escalations of such violations and to alleviate the suffering of those affected.