– As delivered –
Statement by H.E. Mrs. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly
12 April 2019
Your Excellency, Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda,
Your Excellency, Ms Valentine Rugwabiza, Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations,
Mr Secretary-General, António Guterres,
Ms Alison Smale, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications,
Ms Esther Mujawayo-Keiner, co-founder of the Association of Widows of April’s Genocide,
Reverend Marcel Uwineza, Jesuit Priest and doctoral candidate at Boston College,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I thank the Permanent Mission of Rwanda and the UN Department of Global Communications for organizing this ceremony to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Thank you, President Kagame, for being here at this time of solemn reflection for your country and for the world. I speak on behalf of all Member States in expressing solidarity with the people of Rwanda.
And thank you, Ms Mujawayo-Keiner and Reverend Uwineza, for coming here to share your own stories.
In just 100 days, starting on 7 April 1994, more than 800,000 Rwandans were killed – an average of over 8,000 people a day, more than 30 in the time allocated to this very ceremony.
The Tutsis were decimated. Those who opposed the genocide, including Hutus, were also targeted and killed.
Hundreds and thousands of people were orphaned, widowed, raped, injured or forcibly displaced.
The international community watched in horror, but we did not prevent the atrocities.
The years that followed saw local, national and international efforts to address the legacy of this tragedy, from peace education initiatives to trials in national courts, at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and through the Gacaca community justice system.
But these years also saw heated discussion about what the international community should have done to prevent the genocide, what it should do in the future as well.
We are here today to mourn and to remember, but also to reflect and learn. And there can be no greater lesson – and inspiration – than the resilience, strength and creativity of Rwandans, who are an example to us all.María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés
I wish we could honor all those who died 25 years ago by claiming victory today over hatred, intolerance, terrorism and murderous violence. But the stain on our conscience remains – there have been many tragedies since.
So as we light candles this morning, let us also rekindle our efforts to realize our promise of “never again”.
Let us condemn all forms and manifestations of the denial of genocide. Let us invest in education to enshrine the lessons of our past in future generations. Let us redouble our efforts to fight hate speech, and call out those who dehumanize others.
And let us work to implement our responsibility to prevent – by addressing the root causes of conflict, by acting on early-warning signs such as human rights violations, by supporting the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, and by increasing our efforts to build and sustain peace.
We are here today to mourn and to remember, but also to reflect and learn. And there can be no greater lesson – and inspiration – than the resilience, strength and creativity of Rwandans, who are an example to us all.