The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has urged the world community to bolster efforts to prevent another genocide.
Ki-Moon made the call in a message he sent to Rwandans ahead of the 14th anniversary of the Genocide where an estimated one million people lost their lives in a period of 100 days.
He said the “courage and resilience” of survivors of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide should inspire everybody. The country begins its annual Genocide mourning week on Monday.
“Earlier this year I visited the Genocide Memorial in Kigali. The experience was as harrowing as my first visit to Rwanda two years earlier, and being there as Secretary-General of the United Nations carried even more profound meaning for me,” he said.
He continued that while at the Genocide museum, it was impossible for him to “pass through the halls and not be affected – indeed, shaken to the core – by what the Rwandan people endured.”
The Secretary General said that on the 14th anniversary of the Genocide, his “thoughts again go out the victims.”
“May they rest in peace; my thoughts go to the survivors. May their courage and resilience serve as an inspiration to all of us,” he said.
Ki-Moon said that the UN has a moral duty to act on the lessons of Rwanda, adding he was committed to stop the occurrence of another genocide “in my time as UN Secretary-General and in the years beyond.”
He explained that he has created a full-time position of Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, “and appointed a special adviser with a focus on the responsibility to protect – the obligation accepted by all States to act collectively, through the Security Council, when a population is threatened with genocide, ethnic cleansing, or crimes against humanity.”
“I will spare no effort in working with Member States to translate this principle from word to deed,” he said.
Ki-Moon said he was determined to work for human rights “everywhere -- to uphold them, protect them, defend them, ensure that they are a living reality.”
“This year, to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations is pursuing a global awareness campaign to ensure that human rights are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere,” he added.
He pointed out that it is often those who most need their rights protected, who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists – and that it exists for them.
“In all these endeavours, each one of us has a role to play: Governments, the media, civil society, and individuals. May the searing memory of the Genocide in Rwanda always spur us on in our mission,” the Secretary General concluded.
This year’s commemoration theme is “Let’s commemorate Genocide while fighting its ideology, rendering support to survivors and striving for development.”