Thirteen years after some 800,000 Rwandans were murdered by their compatriots in an orchestrated criminal campaign, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called today for “a global partnership against genocide” and pledged to strengthen United Nations mechanisms to ensure that such an event never happens again.
The post of UN Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide – currently held by Juan E. Méndez of Argentina – will be upgraded to a full-time position, Mr. Ban said in a message marking the anniversary of the start of the genocide.
The UN Advisory Committee on Genocide Prevention will also be boosted, the Secretary-General said, adding that Africa has taken its own steps as well, such as the proposed Pact on Security, Stability and Development for the Great Lakes Region, which contains measures on genocide prevention and punishment.
“Preventing genocide is a collective and individual responsibility,” Mr. Ban said. “Everyone has a role to play: governments, the media, civil society organizations, religious groups, and each and every one of us.
“Let us build a global partnership against genocide. Let us protect populations from genocide when their own government cannot or will not.”
Mr. Ban paid tribute to both the victims of the 1994 genocide and the survivors, whose “resilience continues to inspire us.”
The Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to prosecute individuals responsible for committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide during 1994, when Hutu militias and others killed Tutsis and moderate Hutus, often using machetes or clubs.
Noting that Member States have agreed in principle to the “responsibility to protect” populations in danger of genocide or war crimes, Mr. Ban said the “challenge now is to give real meaning to the concept, by taking steps to make it operational. Only then will it truly give hope to those facing genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing.”
Mr. Ban gave a signed copy of his message this afternoon to Joseph Nsengimana, Rwanda’s Permanent Representative to the UN.
Mr. Nsengimana thanked the Secretary-General and pledged the support of his Government to the UN as it worked to strengthen its anti-genocide mechanisms.
“We take this opportunity to once again appeal to the international community, including the United Nations system, to provide assistance and support to survivors of the genocide,” he said.