New York

07 April 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at Commemoration of International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda [As delivered]

During our solemn moment of silence, I remembered my many visits to Rwanda.

The genocide was a source of unbearable pain for the country – and unmistakeable disgrace for the world, including the United Nations.

I will never forget the images I saw at the Gisozi Memorial of babies who were killed in their mothers’ arms… youth cut down in the prime of their lives... whole families slaughtered.

They were among the more than 800,000 victims we mourn today.

I am honoured that Ms. Regine Uwibereyeho King is here to share her story. 

She was abandoned by the international community when her country and her family needed help. She suffered the loss of her loved ones – but she managed to keep her compassionate spirit.

I repeat my pledge to always remember the people of Rwanda.

Nifatanije naban yarwanda.

I stand in solidarity with the people of Rwanda.

Our reflection on the Rwandan tragedy should go beyond one country and one moment in history.

We have to take a hard look at the present.

From Iraq and Syria to the Central African Republic, South Sudan and beyond, we see alarming abuses of people’s rights – especially the right to life.

We must strengthen our resolve to stop atrocities, end incitement and save lives.

This is our moral responsibility.

It is not enough to condemn atrocity crimes once they are occurring.  We must act much earlier to prevent them.

Today I call for intensified international action to uphold our responsibility to protect and put human rights up front. 

I urge all governments, especially those with influence, to transcend their national interests and live up to their obligations to our shared humanity.

This Day of Reflection falls during the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.

As we pay tribute to the people of Rwanda, let us honour the founding purpose of this Organization: to unite for peace so that all people may live with the equality and dignity they deserve.

Thank you.