The just concluded Durban Review Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Geneva, Switzerland adopted in its Final document and Report a declaration calling on the International Community to combat negationism and trivialisation of the Genocide committed against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
The Conference was opened by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. A total of 146 UN member states attended the Conference and at least 50 were represented at Ministerial level.
The declaration was a result of prior intense negotiation and consultation at the level of Permanent Missions in Geneva, between the African Group of Geneva on behalf of Rwanda and other regional Groupings such as EU, South America, Asia and OIC.
The resulting consensus text was adopted by the Conference in form of a Presidential Declaration announced by the Conference President, Kenya’s Attorney General, Hon. Amos Wako, and adopted by consensus.
The exact text of the Declaration is as follows:
“IN THE SPIRIT OF THE 15TH COMMEMORATION OF THE 1994 GENOCIDE AGAINST THE TUTSI IN RWANDA.
We recall the General Assembly Resolutions 58/234 of 23 December 2003, 59/137 of 10 December 2004, and 60/225 of 22 March 2006.
We reaffirm that Genocide is the most serious manifestation of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
The 1994 Genocide committed against the Tutsi in Rwanda which claimed 1 million innocent lives, as the entire world watched still haunts our collective conscience and must never be forgotten.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Genocide Convention send an unequivocal message that the world will not tolerate impunity for genocide.
Today, 15 years later we recognize that there are attempts to diminish the gravity and seriousness of this Genocide; through its negation and trivialization.
This is a serious impediment to efforts for prevention of Genocide and for bringing justice and fostering reconciliation for the people of Rwanda.
We therefore, hereby urge the international community to make all efforts to combat negation and trivialization of the Genocide committed against the Tutsi in Rwanda.”
The adoption of this declaration as part and parcel of the Durban Review Conference Outcome Document and a Report was a major breakthrough for Rwanda in its efforts to sensitize the international community on Genocide impunity and on the rampant practice of the negationism, revisionism and trivialisation of the Genocide committed against the Tutsi, in the hope that states can begin to take measures to address those practices committed on their territory.
“Several countries have legislation to punish deniers of the Holocaust. This is what we would like to see done for the Genocide against the Tutsi,” said Ambassador Venetia Sebudandi, Rwanda’s Permanent representative to the UN in Geneva and Ambassador to Switzerland, who was Head of Rwanda’s Delegation to the Durban Review Conference.
“We hope to build on this declaration of the Durban Review Conference to get a Resolution passed by the Human Rights Council and by the General Assembly in New York in order to urge states to combat negationism and revisionism of the Genocide committed against the Tutsi in Rwanda.”
In her statement to the Conference Ambassador Sebudandi had said that there are important gaps in the international instruments and national legislations of states with regards to Genocide, Genocide negation, revisionism, trivialisation and justification.
She added that Rwanda wishes to establish cooperation with other States in order to end impunity for the crime of Genocide committed against the Tutsi - with regard to Genocide suspects who have found refuge in Europe, in Northern America, in Africa and elsewhere.
She pointed out that this cooperation should also help combat negationism and every attempt targeted at minimizing the Genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda.
“The lack of political will and the indifference shown by the international community had made this Genocide possible, while it could have been avoided,” Ambassador Sebudandi declared to the Conference.
On the global fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, the Ambassador told the Conference that Rwanda attached great importance to the Durban Review Conference.
Rwanda participated in the 2001 Durban Summit because it was convinced of the importance and need to have a comprehensive approach in combating racism and all forms of racial discrimination.
The adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) was a demonstration of the international community’s commitment to combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
The DDPA has provided an important framework to guide states in the elaboration of national policies and plans of action to combat racism and all forms of discrimination.
Sebudandi noted that based on the principles of the DDPA and on the lessons learnt from the sad history of Genocide, following the 1994 Genocide committed against the Tutsi, Rwanda has put in place the necessary legislation and institutional mechanisms and other initiatives to promote equal rights and non-discrimination among Rwandans.
She added the Government of Rwanda has also adhered to and ratified international and regional instruments in this context.
“Rwanda is prepared to play a role, based on its experience and is committed to remain engaged along side other states in the fight against all forms racial discrimination and intolerance, especially in the prevention and punishing of the crime of Genocide and other crimes against humanity,” she said.