Outreach Programme on the
Rwanda Genocide and the United Nations

Portrait of Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
... Our thoughts are also with the survivors, left to rebuild shattered communities and an entire nation. On this day of remembrance, let us pay special tribute to the people and Government of Rwanda for the resilience and dignity they have shown in working towards national recovery and managing the trauma of this atrocious episode of history.
Mr. Abani, Permanent Representative of Niger and Chairperson of the African Group; Mr. Gasana, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Rwanda; and Ms. Ilibagiza, Rwanda genocide survivor, observe a minute of silence.

© UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

07 April 2011

Events — New York

Memorial Ceremony
United Nations Headquarters, New York.

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Event Details

08 April 2011

Events — Geneva

Memorial Ceremony
Palais des Nations, Geneva.

Around the world

Commemorative and educational activities were organized by UN information centres around the world. Memorial ceremonies were organized by (among others):

  • UNO Almaty
  • UNIC Bujumbura
  • UNIC Dar es Salaam
  • UNIC Nairobi
  • UNIC New Delhi
Photos (Flickr) Details on the various events

Event Details — New York

"Rebuilding Rwanda: Reconciliation and Education"

The 2011 commemoration of the Rwanda genocide was observed with a series of events organized during the week of 4 April 2011 at United Nations Headquarters and at UN Information Centres around the world, under the theme: "Rebuilding Rwanda: Reconciliation and Education".

The activities organized in New York by the UN Outreach Programme on the Rwanda genocide in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Rwanda to the UN included a Memorial Ceremony and a Student Conference.

Memorial Ceremony

7 April 2011
ECOSOC Chamber
United Nations Headquarters, New York

The event, attended by over 500 members of the diplomatic community, genocide survivors, members of the civil society and non-governmental organizations, students and UN staff, began with a candle-lighting and a minute of silence to honor the victims of the Rwanda genocide.

Ambassador Eugène-Richard Gasana, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Rwanda to the UN PDF, Ambassador Aboubacar Ibrahim Abani, Permanent Representative of Niger to the UN, Chairperson of the African Group, Ambassador Néstor Osorio, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the UN, President of the UN Security Council, and Immaculée Ilibagiza, Rwanda genocide survivor lit four candles that burned throughout the ceremony to remember the victims of the genocide. The ceremony was hosted by Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information.

The programme included a video of the message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "Preventing genocide is a collective and individual responsibility. Rwanda’s survivors have made us confront the ugly reality of a preventable tragedy. The only way to truly honour the memory of those who perished in Rwanda 17 years ago is to ensure such events can never occur again" stated the Secretary-General.

His Excellency Ambassador Eugène-Richard Gasana, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Rwanda to the UN delivered a statement in English and French in which he said: "Armed with the lessons of the past, it is now our responsibility to shatter the great conspiracy of silence and to break down the walls of indifference and inaction — to stand against hatred and divisionism so that evil will not triumph again, despite the wisdom gained after reflecting on the systems and circumstances that lead to the loss of those whose memory we honor today."

The ceremony also included statements by His Excellency Ambassador Aboubacar Ibrahim Abani, Permanent Representative of Niger to the UN, Chairperson of the African Group, and His Excellency Ambassador Néstor Osorio, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the UN, President of the UN Security Council.

Ms. Immaculée Ilibagiza, survivor of the Rwanda genocide, shared her personal story with the audience. Immaculée was 23 years old when the 1994 genocide unfolded in her native Rwanda. She managed to survive by hiding for 91 days in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor’s house along with seven other women. During this time, despite the terrible conditions and the constant threat, Immaculée managed to teach herself English using the Bible and an English dictionary. When she was finally liberated at the end of the genocide, Immaculée learned that most of her family had been brutally murdered. Her knowledge of English allowed her to start working with the United Nations, first in Kigali from 1994 to 1998 and then in New York until 2005. Immaculée managed to forgive her family’s murderers. She has gone back to Rwanda many times to spread her message of forgiveness and created a foundation to help Rwandan orphans. Today Immaculée is a successful author, the recipient of many awards and an acclaimed speaker on peace and reconciliation.

To conclude the ceremony, Somi External link performed two songs: "Be Careful, Be Kind" and "If The Rains Come First" in English and Kinyarwanda.

A true multicultural woman and artist, Somi was born in Illinois to immigrants from Rwanda and Uganda, and spent her early childhood in Zambia. The African cultural legacy, always crucial to her sound, is as vital as ever in her current music. Somi has become one of the most critically acclaimed young African artists of our time. In addition to her own works, Somi also founded a non-profit arts organization, New Africa Live, committed to producing multidisciplinary events that celebrate contemporary African artists.

Organized by the UN Department of Public Information in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the UN.

Student Conference

8 April 2011
Conference Room 2
United Nations Headquarters, New York

Flickr Album

As part of the 2011 commemoration of the Rwanda genocide, a student conference was organized. Over 500 students participated in this interactive event, which was also followed worldwide through the live webcast.

The event began with an introduction by Francis Deng, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide.

Clemantine Wamariya also shared her personal story with the audience. Clemantine was six-years-old when the genocide started in her native Rwanda. She lost many members of her family. Miraculously she and her sixteen-year-old sister, Claire, managed to survive but they were separated from their parents. Clemantine and Claire came to the United States in 2000, and Clemantine settled with a family in the Chicago area. In May 2006, the sisters were reunited with their parents for the first time in 12 years on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Today Clemantine attends Yale University. She is also an active advocate for human rights, including amongst her fellow students, and frequently accompanies high-school and university groups to Rwanda to raise awareness on the genocide and its consequences.

Students had the opportunity to interact and ask questions to both speakers. Josh, for instance, from Intermediate School 392 asked Clemantine: "Did you have any Hutu friends?" Gabriel, from PS/MS 282K asked Francis Deng: "About what percentage of the Rwandan population was lost during the genocide?" Another student asked Clementine: "Was there any moment you gave up hope?" The discussion, moderated by Deborah Seward (Director, Strategic Communications Division, UN Department of Public Information), looked at the events that led to the genocide in Rwanda, the importance of education in the process of reconciliation and the ways in which it can contribute to preventing future acts of genocide.

The UN Outreach Programme on the Rwanda genocide also launched its new publication "Tugire Ubumwe – Let’s Unite !" Produced in collaboration with Rwandan artist and genocide survivor Rupert Bazambanza, this graphic novel is designed for a young audience and uses the example of Rwanda to promote respect for diversity and reconciliation.

Organized by the UN Department of Public Information.

Event Details — Global

Memorial Ceremonies

Memorial ceremonies to commemorate the Rwanda genocide were organized by UNO Almaty, UNIC Bujumbura, UNIC Dar es Salaam, UNIC Nairobi and UNIC New Delhi. The events included genocide survivors’ testimonies, remarks from diplomatic officials, candle lighting and other artistic components.

The ceremony in Bujumbura included a reading of the names of one hundred men, women, children and elderly who perished in the genocide, followed by a candle lighting ceremony and the testimony of a genocide survivor.

The event in Dar es Salaam also included a "Walk to Remember" led by the Rwandan High Commissioner.

Film Screenings

The documentary film on reconciliation in Rwanda "As We Forgive" was screened by UNIC Canberra, UNIC Lusaka, UNIC Rio and UNIS Vienna.

Additional film screenings were also organized by UNIS Geneva, UNIC Lusaka, UNIC Mexico City, UNIC Moscow, UNIC New Delhi, UNIC Ouagadougou and UNIC Rio.

Exhibits

The exhibition "Lessons from Rwanda" was displayed in English, French and Kinyarwanda by the Information Office of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Kigali, and the following UN Information Centres: UNIC Bujumbura, UNIC Dar es Salaam and UNIS Geneva. Other exhibits on the genocide in Rwanda were displayed at UNO Almaty, UNIC Antananarivo, UNIC Bogota, UNIC Ouagadougou and UNIC Rio.

Eucational Activities

Educational activities were organized by many centres (UNIC Accra, UNO Almaty, UNIC Antananarivo, UNIC Brazzaville, UNRIC Brussels, UNIC Bogota, UNIC Buenos Aires, UNIC Canberra, UNIC Dar es Salaam, UNIS Geneva, UNIC Lusaka, UNIC Mexico City, UNIC Moscow, UNIC Ouagadougou, UNIC Rio, UNIC Tehran) who were able to distribute widely the Programme’s graphic novel "Tugire Ubumwe- Let’s Unite!" to reach out to youth and raise awareness of the lessons to be learnt from the Rwanda genocide. A Russian version of the publication was produced by UNIC Moscow and made available on their website.

UNIC Dar es Salaam partnered with the University of Dar es Salaam and local human rights associations to organize two forums: "The Origins of the Genocide in Rwanda" and "The legacy of International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda and its completion strategy".

An educational seminar was organized by UNIC Tehran and the Iranian Association of UN Studies on the theme: "United Nations and Support for Civilians: From Rwanda to Libya" at Tehran University on 27 April 2011.

UNRIC Brussels’ Desk Officer for Italy was also invited to participate in an event organized by a local NGO with Ms. Yolande Mukagasana, Genocide Survivor, Nobel Peace Prize candidate and author for youth.

UNIC Accra sent questions from local students to the genocide survivor participating in the student conference organized at Headquarters in New York on 8 April 2011.

UNIC Ouagadougou also organised ten lectures focusing on the possible actions and strategies to prevent genocide, which were attended by a total of 1500 students.