“We honour their memory. We stand in awe of the resilience of the survivors. And we reflect on our failures as an international community,” Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message to a virtual event commemorating the 28th International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
He reminded the participants that the genocide was “deliberate, systematic – and carried out in broad daylight.”
President Paul Kagame and First at the Memorial center of Gisozi
The UN chief recalled that although no one who followed world affairs or watched the news, could deny “the sickening violence” taking place, too few spoke out and even fewer tried to intervene.
“Much more could have – and should have – been done. A generation after the events, the stain of shame endures,” he underscored.
Mr. Guterres reminded everyone that “we always have a choice” and urged them “to choose humanity over hatred; compassion over cruelty; courage over complacency; and reconciliation over rage.”
The Secretary-General then drew attention to the principle of Responsibility to Protect; his Call to Action, which puts human rights at the heart of the Organization; through the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, saying, “I have placed the agenda of prevention at the center of our work”.
He also pointed to the whole basis of international criminal justice, which illustrates that “perpetrators can no longer assume impunity”.
“The remarkable work of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda – the first court in history to convict an individual of genocide – was instrumental in this effort,” he said, “it has demonstrated how justice is indispensable for sustainable peace.”
“Rwanda today stands as a powerful testament of the human spirit’s ability to heal even the deepest wounds and emerge from the darkest depths to rebuild a stronger society”, he added.
He pointed out that after having suffered “unspeakable gender-based violence”, women in Rwanda now, hold 60 percent of parliamentary seats.
da is the fourth largest UN peacekeeping contributor, which Mr. Guterres said was helping to spare others, “the pain they themselves have known.”
Future of dignity
The genocide has raised fundamental questions about the role of the Security Council, the effectiveness of peacekeeping, the need to end impunity for international crimes, the importance of addressing roots of violence, and the fragility of civility.
The UN chief described Ukraine in flames; old and new conflicts festering in the Middle East, Africa and beyond – while the Security Council was agreeing “mostly to disagree”.
Wars are raging, “inequalities widening, and poverty growing, and all are breeding grounds of resentment, anxiety, and anger.”
“Meanwhile, we see hate speech – including dehumanizing disinformation, racist tropes, and genocide denial and distortion – proliferating both on and offline,” the UN chief continued, warning of “the dangers of intolerance, irrationality, and bigotry in every society”.
While looking back “with remorse,” the Secretary-General urged everyone to look ahead “with resolve” and commit to “be ever vigilant” and never forget.
“Let us pay meaningful tribute to the Rwandans who perished by building a future of dignity, tolerance, and human rights for all,” he concluded.