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GENEVA - United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan will unveil a plan of action on Wednesday to prevent acts of genocide like the one in Rwanda in which 800,000 people were killed, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

"The risk of genocide remains frighteningly real," Annan said on the eve of an event in Geneva marking the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide at which he will announce the plan.

"The world must be better equipped to prevent genocide, and act decisively to stop it when prevention fails," he said in a statement.

Critics charge that international bodies like the United Nations remain ill-equipped to detect, let alone deal with, wholesale ethnic violence and calculated massacres such as the one in Rwanda that stunned the world.

"We cannot afford to wait until the worst has happened, or is already happening, or end up with little more than futile hand-wringing or callous indifference," Annan said.

Two weeks ago, Annan accepted institutional and personal blame for the Rwandan slaughter that was initially ignored by world leaders. Annan was head of the UN peacekeeping department at the time.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Canadian commander of the small UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda at the time said Western powers bore "criminal responsibility" for the genocide because they did not care enough to stop it.

"The international community didn't give one damn for Rwandans because Rwanda was a country of no strategic importance," Romeo Dallaire told a conference in the Rwandan capital Kigali.