5 April 2012
“Learning from History to Shape a Bright Future”
What was the main topic of this Briefing?
This Briefing was held in observance of the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda called for by General Assembly resolution A/RES/58/234 adopted on 23 December 2003. It examined the Rwandan genocide from the perspective of two survivors, the role of education in the reconstruction and reconciliation process and practical mechanisms including the promotion of the values of reconciliation through story telling which could help sensitize the international community to recognizing and preventing future genocides. The Briefing also highlighted the importance of understanding and responding to the ever evolving needs of the survivors.
What were some of the key points discussed?
Key points raised by the panellists included:
•. “Genocide does not happen overnight. It requires time, organization, planning and the right environment. There are many warning signs.” [Gillian Kitley] Panellists stressed that these warning signs need to be better understood in order to trigger early warning of potential genocide and war crimes.
• Building an inclusive society where fundamental human rights and the rule of law is respected is critical in ensuring genocide prevention. “Our failure of yesterday could be a lesson for the future… Prevention is less expensive than reparation.” [Egide Karuranga] • Education of young people, policy makers, NGOs, decision makers, media, schools and the general public is critical to preventing genocide. [Martina Donlon]
• In assisting survivors it is important to address their special needs including those of victims of rape, those requiring medical treatment,and psychological and social support.. [Eugenie Mukeshimana]
•In order to assist survivors of genocide it is critical to understand how a country heals and to allow the healing process to begin from within at a grass roots level from among the survivors themselves. [Rob Fruchtman]
Who were the panelists?
• Eugenie Mukeshimana, a survivor of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide and founder of the Genocide Survivors Support Network (GSSN).
• Rob Fruchtman, co-producer and co-director of "Sweet Dreams", a documentary about a group of Rwandan women as they emerge from the devastation of the 1994 genocide.
• Gillian Kitley, Senior Officer in the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, formerly worked at Amnesty International at the Int. Secretariat in London.
• Martina Donlon, Human Rights in the Department of Public Information, manages the Outreach Programme on the Rwanda Genocide and the United Nations.
• Egide Karuranga, a survivor of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, took refuge at hotel "Rwanda" where he was exchanged as a hostage under the auspices of the United Nations.
This Briefing was attended by 103 NGO representatives. A question and answer period followed the panel discussion.