On 7 April 2014 the international community commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Over the course of a 100 day period in 1994 at least 800,000 Rwandans were murdered in the fastest genocide of the 20th Century. To honor this tragedy, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect calls upon the United Nations and its Member States to rededicate their commitment to ending the commission of mass atrocity crimes once and for all.
As part of this campaign, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect held a number of events throughout 2014.
Genocide: A Preventable Crime -- Understanding Early Warning of Mass Atrocities - 14 January Press Conference
On 14 January, Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, moderated a press conference at the United Nations with Lt. Gen. The Hon. Roméo A. Dallaire and H.E. Eugène-Richard Gasana, Permanent Representative of Rwanda. The press conference marked the anniversary of Roméo Dallaire sending his infamous fax warning of the impending threat of a genocide perpetrated by Hutu extremists against the Tutsi population of Rwanda.
Genocide: A Preventable Crime -- Understanding Early Warning of Mass Atrocities - 15 January
On 15 January the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, together with the Permanent Mission of Rwanda, co-hosted an event to mark the 20th anniversary of the infamous "Genocide Fax." The event, entitled "Genocide: A preventable crime — Understanding early warning of mass atrocities," was held in the Trusteeship Council Chamber in the UN Secretariat building. Lt. Gen. The Hon. Roméo A. Dallaire delivered a keynote speech following opening statements from Dr. Simon Adams and H.E. Mathilde Mukantabana, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States. Additional statements were delivered by Mr. Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General, Eugenie Mukeshimana, Executive Director of the Genocide Survivors Support Network, and Dr. Stephen Smith, Kwibuka and Executive Director of the Shoah Foundation.
A transcript of Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson's statement is available here: Deputy Secretary-General Remarks
UN Security Council Briefing on "Threats to International Peace and Security: Prevention and the Fight Against Genocide" - 16 April
On 16 April the UN Security Council marked the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide by holding a briefing on "threats to international peace and security: prevention and the fight against genocide." Convened under the Presidency of Nigeria, the meeting included opening statements by Mr. Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General, and H.E. Mr. Colin Keating, former Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the UN and President of the UN Security Council in April 1994 during the start of the genocide in Rwanda.
During the briefing a Resolution (S/Res/2150)
on the prevention of genocide was unanimously adopted. This is the first resolution to discuss genocide as a stand alone issue and "calls upon states to reaffirm paragraphs 138 and 139 of the World Summit Outcome Document on the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity." Many states discussed R2P in their contribution to the briefing.
United Kingdom Parliament debate to commemorate the 1994 genocide in Rwanda - 8 May 2014
On 8 May the United Kingdom Parliament held a debate in the House of Commons to commemorate the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. During the debate a number of Members of Parliament voiced strong support for the Responsibility to Protect. References were also made to the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, the Global Network of R2P Focal Points and the need for voluntary restraint on the use of the veto in situations of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
After speeches were delivered from the floor, the following motion was passed:
"That this House commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, when over the course of a 100-day period in 1994 at least 800,000 Rwandans were murdered; and calls on the Government to reinforce its commitment to the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine and to working within the UN to promote international justice and to avoid mass atrocities which are still committed across the globe today."
View a video of the debate here
Read a transcript of proceedings in the House of Commons Chamber here
What Your Country Can Do
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect also issued an "Open Letter to All UN Member States regarding the 'Genocide Fax' and the 20th Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994." As part of the reaffirmation of our collective commitment to R2P, during 2014 the Global Centre encourages all UN Member States to:
(1) Appoint a National R2P Focal Point, a senior-level government official responsible for mainstreaming the prevention of mass atrocity crimes and R2P domestically. Thirty-five countries from across the globe have already appointed a R2P Focal Point;
(2) Publicly affirm that the prevention of mass atrocity crimes is a national priority and demonstrate this by developing a national action plan to strengthen domestic and international capacities to prevent mass atrocity crimes;
(3) Recognize the 20th commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide within national legislatures and fostering all-Party initiatives on the prevention of mass atrocity crimes;
(4) Ratify relevant legal treaties, including the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, if they have not already done so;
(5) Support multilateral initiatives aimed at the voluntary restraint on the use of the veto in situations of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In particular, the Global Centre encourages the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – to publicly commit to this during the 20th commemoration of the Rwandan genocide.
The full letter is available here: Open Letter to All UN Member States Re: the 'Genocide Fax' and the 20th Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994