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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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Remarks to the press at the Rwanda Genocide Memorial

by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Kigali (Rwanda), 29 January 2008

Juste quelques mots pour vous dire à quel point je suis ému de cette visite à ce monument de la mémoire.

It is impossible to pass through these halls and not be affected -- indeed, shaken to the core -- by what the Rwandan people have endured. This genocide here will haunt the United Nations, and the international community, for generations to come.

I am here today to honour the victims -- more than 800,000 innocent people who lost their lives. I am here to express our solidarity to the survivors. May their courage and resilience serve as an inspiration to all of us.

But this Memorial is not simply a register of atrocities. It is also a repository of hope. It is a call to never forget, and today I say loud and clear: NEVER AGAIN.

This memorial is also a call to justice. Justice will not heal all wounds but putting an end to impunity can ensure that our cry of NEVER AGAIN will become an enduring reality, not only in Rwanda but for our common humanity.

The tragic events of 1994 shook our conscience. But the 1994 genocide has led to a significant rethinking of how the United Nations operates -- in peacekeeping, in conflict prevention and in how we protect innocent people from such atrocities.

The United Nations has learnt profound lessons from the tragedy of Rwanda. We have created the position of Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide. We have established an Advisory Committee on Genocide Prevention. And Member States have agreed in principle to the responsibility to protect: to act collectively, through the Security Council, when a population is threatened with genocide, ethnic cleansing, or crimes against humanity. Our challenge now is to give real meaning to the concept, by taking steps to make it operational. I will spare no effort in working with Member States to make this happen.

And I am determined to work for human rights everywhere -- to uphold them, protect them, defend them, ensure that they are a living reality. It is particularly important as this year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This memorial was built so all of us may learn and remember the worst that humankind can do. Let us resolve to build a global architecture to uphold the best humankind can do. I will do all I can to advance that mission.

The survivors of the genocide -- those orphaned and family members left destitute -- continue to suffer and deserve our sympathy and support. I will continue to urge generous international support for them, and as a token gesture, I will contribute $10,000 of my own to the Fonds d’assistance aux rescapés du génocide (FARG) established by the Rwandan Government.