United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his delegation arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, from Bangui in the Central African Republic, late on Saturday evening, 5 April.
On this visit, the Secretary-General was accompanied by a number of senior advisers, including Adama Dieng, his Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and Mary Robinson, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa.
On Sunday morning, after receiving a briefing from the United Nations country team, the Secretary-General met with President Paul Kagame.
“Learning the lesson itself is important”, the Secretary-General told reporters afterwards, but what is more important is how to translate the lessons into action to prevent future genocides.
On Monday morning in Kigali, the Secretary-General joined President Paul Kagame of Rwanda at the official commemoration ceremony of the Rwandan genocide. The opening of the event, known as Kwibuka20, took place at the Gisozi Genocide Memorial Site. There, the Secretary-General and President Kagame, joined by two young people born at the time of the genocide, lit the flame of mourning. The flame would remain lit for 100 days.
Later, at the Amahoro National Stadium, the Secretary-General spoke about the genocide in Rwanda, which he called one of the darkest chapters in human history. He said that many United Nations personnel and others showed remarkable bravery, but added that the United Nations could and should have done much more. In Rwanda, he said, troops were withdrawn when they were most needed. He said that the shame of Rwanda and Srebrenica still clings, a generation after the events.
The Secretary-General noted how United Nations response has improved since then, from the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect to the expansion of international criminal justice to his recent call to the United Nations system and the international community to put human rights up front. (See Press Release SG/SM/15755.)
And the Secretary-General also spoke at an event in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) compound for the United Nations staff murdered during the genocide, saying that he honoured his fallen colleagues and offered his deepest condolences to all those they left behind. (See Press Release SG/SM/15756.)
On Monday afternoon, the Secretary-General departed Rwanda for New York via Dubai.