International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda

The Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG) marks April 7, 2020 as the annual International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, recalling that Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were also killed. The Rwandan Genocide, which began on this day in 1994, was characterized by the systematic murder of over 800,000 Rwandans, most of which were members of the Tutsi community. The atrocities, which continued for a period of three months, destroyed approximately 70% of the Tutsi community in Rwanda, which at the time represented 20% of the country’s total population.

Initially established by the UN General Assembly on December 23, 2004 through A/RES/58/234, a new draft resolution, A/72/L.31, was adopted on January 26, 2018. This resolution recognizes more recent developments, such as the results of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and resolutions made by the Security Council (e.g. Resolution 2150). A/72/L.31 also serves to officially update the official name of the observance to its current title.

In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in 2019, UN Secretary General António Guterres said:

Today’s commemoration gives us an opportunity to once again raise our voices against racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, including social and ethnic discrimination, anti-Muslim hatred and anti-Semitism.  Wherever they occur, these evils should be identified, confronted and stopped, to prevent them leading, as they have in the past, to hate crimes and genocide.  I call on all political, religious and civil society leaders to reject hate speech and discrimination, and to work vigorously to address and mitigate the root causes that undermine social cohesion and create conditions for hatred and intolerance.

The capacity for evil resides in all societies.  But so too do the qualities of understanding, kindness, justice and reconciliation.  That is one of the profound lessons of the Rwandan experience.  The country’s recovery is a rightful source of pride and comfort for the people and Government of Rwanda.  I would also like to commend Rwanda for its exemplary role in the international community.  Rwanda is today the fourth largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations.  It is notable that a nation that has endured the worst atrocities should risk its soldiers to ensure those atrocities cannot happen elsewhere.

On this occasion, the Auschwitz Institute remembers and commemorates the victims of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, as well as their friends, families, and loved ones. AIPG also recognizes the advancements that have been made, both in Rwanda and more broadly by the international community, in the name of preventing future genocide.

Furthermore, the Auschwitz Institute underscores the importance of the Secretary General’s message that the risk of mass atrocities exists in all societies around the globe. It is only through active efforts to reduce and mitigate risk factors that future tragedies can be prevented. In this spirit, AIPG reaffirms its commitment to supporting and reinforcing the development and implementation of policies and practices that stop genocide by equipping and empowering government officials and other stakeholders around the world with the necessary knowledge and skills to do so.