The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday honoured the memory of the more than 800,000 persons who lost their lives during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
In his message to mark the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda, Ban urged countries to “share responsibility’’ to prevent mass atrocities from reoccurring.
“Preventing genocide is a shared responsibility. States must uphold their obligations under international law to prevent abuses and protect their populations.
“Collectively, we must go beyond words and effectively safeguard people at risk.
“And individually, we must nurture the courage to care and the resolve to act, only by meeting these challenges can we match the resolve of the survivors and truly honour the memory of those who died in Rwanda 19 years ago,” he said.
Nearly one million Rwandans, mostly ethnic Tutsi, were massacred by Hutu militia and government forces over a period of 100 days.
This occurred in spite of the existence of the Genocide Convention of 1948 which makes it a crime to commit genocide.
In response to this collective failure and in an effort to learn from the past, the UN outlined an action plan for the prevention of genocide in 2004.
“Out of the ashes of the genocide, Rwanda has forged a new path, progressing towards a more peaceful and just society.
“I encourage the people and Government of Rwanda to continue promoting the inclusive spirit and dialogue necessary for healing, reconciliation and reconstruction,” Ban added.
He said since the Rwandan genocide, the UN had worked every day to prevent a recurrence of such horror, with the responsibility to protect having become a global principle.
“We are strengthening our capacities for mediation, fact-finding, preventive diplomacy and the peaceful settlement of disputes.
“And we are focusing on the special procedures and other UN human rights mechanisms, which play a critical early warning role,’’ he stressed.
Ban also noted that progress had been made in fighting impunity for crimes against humanity.
According to him, organisations such as the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda are working to bring those responsible for the genocide to justice