HE Adama Dieng, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide year marks the 26th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, during which near one million people were killed because of their Tutsi identity. 100 days of horrors with the aim of the perpetrators to exterminate the Tutsi as a Group. They also killed the moderate Hutu and others who opposed the genocide.
I am profoundly humbled to join you to reflect on one of the darkest chapters in human history. It is the occasion to remind ourselves of our collective failure to recognize the warning signs of impending violence, to prevent the deaths of so many, and renew our resolve to prevent such atrocities from happening again.
Remembering the heinous crimes committed in Rwanda means acknowledging the victims and calling attention to the survivors and the struggles they continue to face. We should be inspired by the survivors’ ability to show that reconciliation is possible even after a tragedy of such monumental proportions.
I often say that there is no part of the world that can consider itself immune to the risk of atrocity crimes, by which I mean genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity. All societies have risk factors related to atrocity crimes to some extent, for example divisions based on ethnicity, race, religion or other grounds, social disparities, discrimination as well as human rights violations. It is how early these risk factors are managed that will determine whether they will escalate into situations of more serious concern or not. We are therefore all responsible for contributing to prevention, whatever our roles or capacities.
Genocide is the most serious crime against the human being. The best way to honor the memory of the victims is to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. We must all be alert to the warning signs and act quickly while there is still time to do so. One of the key warning signs and a trigger to violence is the spread of hate speech in public discourse and the media that target specific communities, based on their identity, in particular, the most extreme cases of hate speech that have the potential to incite hostility and violence.
The ongoing crisis in many places around the world are a clear reminder to all of us that we are still failing to prevent atrocity crimes. Civilians, including women, children and the elderly continue to be brutally killed, raped, displaced and discriminated against on the basis of their identity. We must ensure that we act swiftly at an early stage to protect those at risk of atrocities.
Building a better society is an endeavor that requires the involvement of all segments of society, all men and women, ethnicities and religions. It requires us to work together towards a collective goal. We know all too well that without peaceful and inclusive societies, we increase the risk of crisis, violence and even atrocity crimes.
We must strive to address inequality, build cohesive society devoid of ethnic or racial divisions, promote good governance. We must also counter intolerance, hatred, and all forms of discrimination. Enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms must be guaranteed and protected. If we are short of these values in any parts of the world, then we will continue to grapple with the risk of atrocity crimes and our promise of “Never again” may remain elusive.
Rwanda teaches us this essential lesson. It is no surprise that President Kagame displayed his strong commitment to the African Union Principle of non-indifference – Article 4 of the AU Constitutive Act refers. It is no surprise that Rwanda is a Champion of RtoP …