Date:                           December 7, 2023


Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) observes the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime, and the 75th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. These important milestones draw attention to the heinous crime of genocide. USCIRF notes with deep sadness that since the convention’s ratification, millions of people, including those targeted on the basis of religion, have been killed in genocidal campaigns by states and nonstate actors alike.

The heinous crime of genocide is far more than a violation of international law – it is a scourge on humanity that must be prevented completely. ‘Never again’ must be a policy, not merely a slogan,” said USCIRF Chair Abraham Cooper. “On this somber anniversary we call upon the U.S. government to support the survivors of the Yazidi genocide, including working to return approximately 2,700 missing Yazidi women and children. The United States must also ensure the perpetrators of genocide against Rohingya Muslims are held fully accountable. Finally, it should take all possible measures to hold accountable officials perpetrating the ongoing genocide against Uyghur Muslims in China.”

The 1948 Genocide Convention originated in the tireless efforts of Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew whose family was murdered in the Holocaust for being Jewish. The Convention makes genocide a crime under international law. Since 1989, the United States government has recognized the Armenian genocide as well as those that occurred in Bosnia, Rwanda, Iraq, Darfur, Burma, China, and territories in 2016 and 2017 that were under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In many of these cases, the affected population was targeted on the basis of their religious identity. Since 2015, the international community has observed the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.

The Genocide Convention punishes not only perpetration but also complicity. As such it is a stark reminder of the duty all states have to actively prevent this horrific crime,” said USCIRF Vice Chair Frederick A. Davie. “The U.S. government must continue its efforts to prevent genocide against religious minorities and all peoples. It should also call out publicly statements by governments and non-state entities that incite genocide, deploy genocidal rhetoric, or serve to deny the perpetration of genocide after the fact.”

Today, USCIRF held a hearing on religious freedom conditions in Iraq which noted the ongoing challenges facing the Yazidi community. USCIRF also recently released a report documenting ongoing challenges facing survivors of the Yazidi genocide. Last month, USCIRF condemned United States businesses for operating in China while an ongoing genocide against Uyghur Muslims is taking place. In August, USCIRF called for the U.S. government to fulfill its obligations under the Burma Act of 2022 to support survivors of the Rohingya genocide in Burma.


The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a commissioner, please contact USCIRF at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..