New York

11 April 2016

Secretary-General's remarks to General Assembly Commemoration of the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda [as delivered]

I am honoured to be with you on this solemn occasion.

I wish to pay a special recognition to Ms. Nelly Mukazayire and Ms. Frida Umuhoza, as well as Mr. Malcolm Hoenlein, who join us today as distinguished speakers.

On this Day, we remember all who perished in the genocide in Rwanda, and we renew our resolve to prevent such atrocities from ever being repeated, anywhere in the world.

In 1994, more than 800,000 people were systematically murdered throughout Rwanda. 

The vast majority were Tutsi, but moderate Hutu, Twa and others were also targeted. 

In remembering the victims, we should all be inspired by the survivors’ courage.

They have showed that reconciliation is possible, even after such appalling crimes. 

The theme of this year’s observance is “Fighting Genocide Ideology”. 

Genocide is not a single event. 

It is a process that takes time and preparation. 

One of the key warning signs of genocide is the spread of hate speech in public discourse and the media.

History has repeatedly shown that no region of the world is immune. 

I have visited the genocide memorials at Auschwitz, Kigali, Phnom Penh and Srebrenica.

After each atrocity, the world has been united in horror.

Never again, we said, each time.

Never again, we keep on saying.

But every day, around the world, men, women and children continue to be killed, raped, displaced and discriminated against on the basis of their identity.

And every day, the seeds of future massacres and genocides are being planted.

The only way to prevent genocide and other egregious violations of human rights is to acknowledge shared responsibility and commit to shared action to protect those at risk.

It is essential that Governments, the judiciary and civil society stand firm against hate speech and those who incite division and violence. 

We must instead unite to promote inclusion, dialogue and the rule of law to establish peaceful, just societies.

The history of Rwanda teaches us an essential lesson. 

While the capacity for the deepest evil resides in all societies, so too do the qualities of understanding, generosity and reconciliation. 

Let us nurture these hallmarks of our common humanity to help build a life of dignity and security for all.

Thank you.