“Tonight we mark the memory of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, one of the most tragic in contemporary history,” stated the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova at the opening of the ceremony of the 20th commemoration in the framework of the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 7 April. “In the course of only 100 days, nearly one million men, women and children were massacred”.
“We need to draw all the lessons from this tragedy and this evening, commemorating the victims, we must renew our commitment to do everything to prevent genocide,” she continued. “The role of UNESCO is clear. It is to prevent genocide through education, through knowledge, through greater mutual respect and understanding”.
UNESCO is drawing on all its academic networks to integrate these essential issues into school and university curricula and it has established a comprehensive inventory of policies and resources in 45 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, to strengthen the culture of peace. It has also created UNESCO Chairs on Genocide Education at the University of Southern California and for Genocide Prevention at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
The ceremony was organized by the Embassy of Rwanda in France and the Permanent Delegation to UNESCO, in partnership with the Organization. It was opened by the Director-General, Mr. Jacques Kabale, Ambassador of Rwanda to France and Permanent Delegate, and others personalities including Marcel Kabanda, President of Ibuka France, an association of survivors and Jean-Pierre Chrétien, historian.
On the occasion of the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, UNESCO hosted a series of activities, including the projection of the official film of the 20th commemoration Kwibuka 20 "Remember, Unite, Renew", musical performances, the testimony of a survivor of the genocide and two exhibitions, entitled “Voices of Rwanda”, by Taylor Krauss and “Men Standing”, by Bruce Clarke.
The International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda (7 April) was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 23 December 2003. This decision resulted from a recommendation made by the Executive Council of the African Union in March 2003.