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BigLogo.gif UN Member States on the Record

DPI pays tribute to victims of a “crime without a name” - the Rwandan Genocide

Posted: Tuesday, 14 May 2013, New York | Author: Department of Public Information

The Genocide Convention adopted by the UN in 1948 was meant to ensure that the horrors of the Holocaust never be repeated anywhere on earth. But since then, the world community has consistently failed to prevent genocide in places like Cambodia, Rwanda, and Bosnia. Why has the promise of "never again" proven so difficult to honour?

Partly because much of the world has neither been exposed to nor drawn lessons from what UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill called a "crime that has no name": the deliberate and systematic extermination of some 6 million European Jews.

In 2003, by its resolution 58/234, the General Assembly mandated 7 April as the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda.

With its global reach, the UN Department of Public Information staged 20 events through UN Information Centres (UNICs), paying tribute to the millions of innocent people slain during the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. In an effort to ensure that "Never Again" would the world stand for acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing, UNICs conducted a mass educational campaign. Looking back with an eye towards future prevention, the Centres went deep into local communities to educate and raise awareness of the heinous crime. 

The UN Office (UNO) Asmara began a “Walk to Remember” at the Expo Ground with Government Ministers, Ambassadors, UN Agencies Heads, staff and civil society present. Giving survivors a message of hope, the walk raised awareness and empowered participants to stand strong against genocide.

Months before the Day, UNIC Brazzaville organized in February, a panel discussion on “Hate Speech and Incitement to Genocide”. Panelists examined the type of speech used in Congolese media and the implementation of genocide during World War II. They also reviewed a case study of the “Radio Televison des Milles Collines" in Rwanda and discussed freedom of expression and journalists' social responsibilities.

With more than 300 people in attendance, UNIC Bujumbura and the Rwanda Embassy in Burundi co-organized a ceremony that included Government- and diplomatic-led speeches, a prayer followed by a minute of silence, a symbolic candle lighting and songs of hope and reconciliation, interpreted by the young Rwandese cultural group, “Inganji”.

UNIC Dhaka observed the Day with the University of Information Technology and Sciences (UITS) and Daffodil International University (DIU). In addition were a seminar, human rights poems and a drama entitled “We Sing of Equality” enacted by the DIU theatre group. The UNIC Officer-in-Charge spoke about reconciliation through peace and development in Rwanda and retired Lt. Col. Khairul Bashar poignantly reflected on his experience working in the Rwanda Peacekeeping Mission.
For its part, the UNO Kyiv commemorated the Day with an event in partnership with the International Organization for Migration Mission in Ukraine. The use of sexual violence during conflict was discussed as a tool of war to terrorize the population, break up families, destroy communities and even change the ethnic make-up of an entire generation. A documentary about the Rwandan women’s association “Duhozanye” was screened and a “Living Library” interactive discussion encouraged participants to ponder measures promoting cultural dialogue and ethnic conflict prevention.

The first in a host of UNIC Moscow awareness-raising activities, the Centre observed the Day by organizing a soft launch of its self-produced DVD "Tugire Ubumwe - Let's Unite!". Based on the DPI comic created in collaboration with Rwandan artist and genocide survivor Rupert Bazambanza, the video, designed for a young audience, uses the example of Rwanda to promote respect for diversity and reconciliation.

Under the slogan “Healing, Reconciliation and Reconstruction”, UNIC Nairobi observed the 19th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide with 400 students from various universities, secondary and primary schools in Kenya. Inviting youth to imagine a country without conflict, UNIC conducted an essay and art contest underlining that conflict prevention is a responsibility shared by all, including students.

There is no road map to conclusively stop genocide. But the UN refuses to let the flame of hope burn out. By revealing untold tribulations accompanied by powerful messages, the UNICs work in concert to elucidate the past with a long-term vision of a peaceful future.