|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General, Commemorating Rwanda Victims, Urges Collective Resolve
in Consigning Genocide to History
Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) commemoration in memory of the victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, as delivered by Bongani Majola, ICTR Registrar, in Arusha today:
This week of commemoration of the horrors committed in Rwanda 20 years ago has been solemn and sorrowful for the United Nations, and for the international community as a whole.
This past Monday, I attended the official commemoration of the genocide, and paid my respects to the 800,000 people who were killed — overwhelmingly the Tutsi, and also moderate Hutu, Twa and others — in three months of unparalleled bloodletting. I stressed on that occasion the need for greater collective resolve to ensure that genocide is consigned, once and for all, to history.
To rebuild a society as shattered as Rwanda after the genocide is a monumental endeavour. It requires sustained political will nationally and internationally, coupled with investments in security, governance, the rule of law and the resumption of economic activity. We must also acknowledge the fundamental human demand for truth and justice in the wake of atrocity. These claims arise not only from the need for redress for victims and survivors, but also from the need for humanity as a whole to vindicate our most basic shared values. Accountability is a moral and ethical imperative.
The establishment of the ICTR in the immediate aftermath of the genocide was an essential contribution towards telling the truth of what took place and holding key perpetrators to account. The accused tried before the ICTR have been only a fraction of perpetrators, and the justice efforts of Rwanda and other States have been critical complements to the ICTR’s work. Yet the outcomes of these cases, and the jurisprudence developed over time, have been crucial for reasserting the rule of law. The voices of victims, so often silenced, have been heard, and their courage in testifying before the ICTR has contributed to the establishment of a historical record. The ICTR has also become a core element of the landscape of international criminal justice that embodies our collective commitment that there can be no impunity for crimes of this magnitude. In short, the ICTR has been an indispensable part of the response to the genocide, and today Rwanda is stronger for its work.
Today, the ICTR is completing its final set of appeals. Its legacy will be carried forward by the Residual Mechanism. I welcome this commemoration and join you in honouring the victims, as well as the courage of those who fought and died to resist unspeakable evil around them. Their memory inspires us to do everything in our power to avoid ever having to witness such events again.
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