April 7, 2016 marks the twenty-second anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. Adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 23, 2004 (A/RES/58/234), the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda takes places each year on April 7, the date on which the systematic killing of Tutsi, moderate Hutu, and other Rwandan citizens commenced after the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana in 1994. By the end of July, only three months after the outbreak of violence, over 800,000 Rwandans, approximately one-fifth of the country’s total population and roughly 70% of the Rwandan Tutsi community, had been killed.
Speaking on April 7, 2015, in commemoration of the International Day of Reflection, Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, delivered a forceful call to action. He asked members of the international community to match rhetoric on the prevention of genocide and atrocity crimes with an equal measure of concrete action to prevent these crimes:
On this Day, I appeal to the international community to do more than just speak about atrocity crimes and then fail to take timely action to prevent them. I call on all to summon the courage to act before situations deteriorate based on our collective moral responsibility.
In remembering the horrific events that took place during the summer of 1994, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) would like to acknowledge the myriad efforts and advances that have occurred within the international community since 1994 towards the establishment of a global culture that prevents genocide and mass atrocities. AIPR would like to specifically highlight the work done by Rwandans, and the assistance provided to them by the international community, in working to provide truth, memory, and justice to all people affected by the tragedy.
Dr. Ashad Sentongo, Director of AIPR’s Africa Programs, reflects on the occasion, saying:
The 22nd commemoration of the Rwanda Genocide is taking place at a time of escalating hostilities and threats of a recurrence of genocide in some parts of the Great Lakes Region, despite various countering initiatives by national and international actors. The situation underscores the urgent need to increase investments in building human and institutional capacities for mainstreaming normative, legal, and operational aspects of prevention in the management of states and communities in the region.