Proxmire Honored for Struggle to Outlaw Genocide in the U.S.

Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wis.) was honored Thursday night for his long personal struggle to obtain Senate ratification of the U.N. Convention Against Genocide and the adoption by Congress of legislation making genocide a crime in the United States.

Seymour Reich, president of B’nai B’rith International, which sponsored the Capitol Hill reception, noted that Proxmire had “never stopped talking” about the treaty, making more than 3,300 speeches in support of its ratification.

He called this effort “a kind of moral filibuster to inform the Senate and the American people to come to grips with their responsibilities to both the dead and the living.”

Proxmire is retiring this year after 30 years in the Senate. Reich suggested that “maybe it was prescience that he stayed just long enough to see” his effort realized.

The 40-year struggle over the treaty ended last Tuesday, when the House approved the implementing legislation, named the Proxmire Act. The Senate approved the bill, which is required by the U.N. treaty, Oct. 14.

The congressional action came more than two years after the Senate ratified the treaty on Feb. 19, 1986. President Reagan, who supported the bill, is expected to sign it shortly.

Representatives of the American Bar Association, Amnesty International and the Armenian Assembly of America participated in the ceremony.

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