Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina

26 July 2012

Secretary-General's remarks at Memorial Centre in Srebrenica

Dobar dan.


I stand here with profound sadness and loss.


There is perhaps nowhere in the world more difficult, more painful, than here for the United Nations Secretary-General to visit.


Srebrenica was a crime of our time.


I have just met a number of ladies whose family members have been killed.


I’d like to express my deepest respect to the families and to the victims.


I [am here to] tell you all: We grieve with you. The world is grieving with you.


I know nothing can replace such pain, [an] empty heart.


No one can replace a father’s warmth, a child’s smile, and a grandparent’s embrace.


I know many mothers are still burying their sons in their hearts. I pay again my deepest respect.


Standing here and having seen endless rows of tombstones, the names on the wall, I cannot remember [them] all: Amir, Fikret, Hamdija, on and on – more than 8,000.


Srebrenica is hallowed ground for the families of the victims and also the families of nations.


We must learn from the lessons of Srebrenica.


The United Nations is doing, will continue to do all that we can to prevent this [so that] Srebrenica will not happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone.


The international community failed to provide the necessary protection to many people who were killed at the time when they needed our support.


The leaders of the world in 2005 finally came [up] with the principle of the “Responsibilty to Protect” civilians. In some places, like in Libya, in Cote d’Ivoire, we were able to apply this, but in many other places we are not still able to fully protect civilians.


We have to do all [that we can] to protect civilians, to prevent and to stop bloodshed, particularly in Syria now.


When we learn from the lessons of Srebrenica, we have to do all that we can. The international community must be united not to see any further bloodshed in Syria because I do not want to see any of my successors, after 20 years, visiting Syria, apologizing for what we could have done now to protect the civilians in Syria – which we are not doing now.


Standing in this place before all these, our victims, I pledge again, I appeal to you all: Let us honour them with our memories and let us [do them] justice with our actions.


Never Srebrenica, nowhere to no one.


My deepest respect to all the victims and families and my admiration to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Thank you. Hvala.

Q: You mentioned Syria yesterday and today and you say that the world must unite, but what kind of action do you think would be appropriate?

SG: These actions taken by the United Nations, particularly establishing and deploying the supervision mission [United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria] has not been able to implement its mandate smoothly because of the non-compliance of the parties – the Government parties and also opposition forces.

At this time again I am urging all the parties: they must stop fighting and killing people now. They have to begin political dialogue for a political resolution of this crisis.

The Joint Special Envoy, Kofi Annan, has proposed a six-point peace plan, and an action group in Geneva adopted a very strong message. All of these messages, together with Security Council resolutions, must be fully implemented without further delay.

We have taken actions, but these actions and recommendations have not been heard and implemented by, first of all, the Syrian authorities and I urge again the opposition forces [to] fully cooperate with the United Nations.

I’m continuing to work with the Arab League and the international community.

Thank you, thank you very much. I wish you all the best.