The United Nations deputy secretary-general, Jan Eliasson, has called on the international community to act on early signs of atrocities to stop any probable genocide and other crimes against humanity.
Speaking after visiting Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Gisozi, yesterday, Eliasson said that such approach could have precluded the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994 from taking place.
“This genocide was a failure of the international community to see the warning signs and taking action in time. We must learn from these failures,” partly reads the message he wrote in the guestbook at the memorial centre after visiting,” he said.
Speaking to the media after the visit, Eliasson said he felt strongly touched, wondering how deep human beings came forward to commit acts demonstrated in the museum.
Remains of over 250,000 Genocide victims are interred at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre.
Eliasson noted that in today’s world, there is a tendency to just wait for the crisis to erupt, stressing that it’s time for the world to really start to take action at the early signs.
“That’s the moment we can act. Once the whole (crisis) starts, they get out of control; it’s hysteria, it’s crazy, absolutely unbelievable, it’s a series of developments. And the best way to go is to see the early warning signs and act then,” he said.
Eliasson said there are many cases of crises that need attention to ensure that they do not exacerbate into mass atrocities.
“I work with crises in the Middle East, I work with crises in Africa. We need this message, that there is no future in dividing people and creating tensions and hatred in societies, which is in so many places in the world right now.’
However, Eliasson expressed hope that the world can unite and stand firm against genocide and any atrocity.
“What we have in common is dreams and aspirations for peace, development and human rights, rule of law and fair societies as well as life in dignity. The hope is that we can unite the world,” he said, adding that Rwanda has pioneered this goal by uniting its people after the Genocide.
“During this visit, I have seen a kind of new Rwanda that you have built. I say that you are a model; you are a model of learning lessons,” he said.
Paying the price
“I hope that this group that is denying is a very shrinking minority, and we have to make sure that this group comes out. This is the place the people of the world must see. It reminds us of the horror which will follow calls for hate and divisive, dividing human beings into “us” and “them,” he wrote in the guest book at the memorial centre.
He said he had absolute conviction that “we have to do everything to avoid this from happening again” and wondered why some elements still deny the Genocide.
“It is so important that we accept accountability, nobody should ever get away with this. The price has to be paid. But, there is now a legal way to proceed and that is justice being done,” Eliasson said.
A former Swedish minister for foreign affairs, Eliasson’s term at UN ends December. He said he wished to visit Rwanda and the memorial centre, which he said has a deep meaning to him before his term could end.