Statement by Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza on adoption of the decision on the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Mr. President,

On behalf of my country, I have the honour to introduce the present draft decision entitled ‘International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda’. I would like to first express our sincere appreciation to all delegations that supported the development of this important resolution as well as the delegations that have cosponsored the text; Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Israel, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Monaco, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Philippines, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Turkey, Uganda, and Viet Nam.

What this decision seeks to achieve is to correct inaccuracies that existed in resolution A/RES/58/234 adopted by this same Assembly 14 years ago on 23rd December 2003 which established the ‘International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda’, particularly its title and its operative paragraph one. To be clear, today’s decision doesn’t modify other parts of resolution A/RES/58/234.

Mr. President,

The text captures the historical facts of what happened in 1994, which is a ‘Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda’ and leaves no room for ambiguity. Mr. President, historical accuracy and words are vital while referring to the Genocide. The tactics of Genocide denial and revisionism are well known and documented. Some people, mostly those who were involved by action or omission, promote the theory of double Genocide in the futile belief that such suggestion might divert their own responsibility.

In Rwanda, the reflection and commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, is a significant part of our reconciliation and unity.
The more than 1 million men, women and children we lost, did not lose their lives to natural disasters, neither were they war combatants. These were ordinary people who were killed in the most horrendous conditions because they belonged to a group which was dehumanized & targeted for total extermination. Any members of other communities who were against this evil extermination plan, were summarily executed. Every year in Rwanda, at every commemoration, we honour the courage and the humanity of all Rwandans who paid the highest price because they opposed the Genocide against the Tutsi.

Today, as members of the General Assembly, we have an important opportunity to align resolution 58/234 language with the International Court of Tribunal Rwanda (ICTR) Appeals Chamber decision ICTR-98-44-AR73 (C) of 16th June 2006, which concluded that “it was a ‘fact of common knowledge’ that ‘between 6 April and 17 July 1994’, there was a Genocide in Rwanda against the Tutsi ethnic group”.

The day of reflection offers us as members of the international community an opportunity to consider the factors that lead to such mass atrocity and renew our collective pledge of “never again”. It serves as an educative opportunity for future generations to equip them in fighting all forms of hate and Genocide ideology. More importantly, in these worrying times where we witness increase in expressions of divisionism, extremism and hatred in many parts of the world, it sends a clear message that the United Nations is a platform for the promotion and protection of human dignity of all people and will not serve as a platform for any form of Genocide denial or revisionism.

The day of reflection is to among others continuously awaken greater awareness of the international community on the value of life and humanity, the ill effects of genocide and to renew our collective commitment to protect and uphold fundamental human rights. It provides us with an opportunity to reflect on lessons learnt from the failure of the international community to prevent and stop the execution of the Genocide against the Tutsi. It is highly regrettable that despite numerous resolutions condemning Genocide denial adopted by this esteemed Assembly, we continue to see Genocide denial and revisionism widespread around the world.

Mr. President,
Let me conclude by calling on members’ support for this decision. I thank you all for your support.