Annual Day of Remembrance and Action against Mass Atrocities
April 23 is the Annual Day of Remembrance and Action against Mass Atrocities and this month marks the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. We are pleased to share the following statement from the Montreal Institute on Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University:
"In 1948, the world came together and said “never again” to the horrors of the Holocaust. Yet 20 years ago, the international community turned away as 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutu were killed within 100 days. Today the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University stands with the people of Rwanda to remember those who lost their lives and support the survivors of this tragedy.
As we mark this sad anniversary, it is also our duty to reflect on lessons learned. The Rwandan genocide did not come out of nowhere – it was well planned and there were countless opportunities to prevent and stop it. Nobody can say we did not know. We did not act. As the on-going massacres in Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic prove, we still fail to act on the lessons of the Rwandan genocide and the other genocides of the past one hundred years. Generating the political will to prevent mass atrocities remains one of the central challenges today. But preventing genocide and mass atrocities is a collective responsibility.
And so, as we pay tribute to the victims and survivors of the genocide, we must renew our commitment. In 2005, the 192 governments of the United Nations renewed their commitment to the “responsibility to protect.” Canadian diplomats led the international community in mobilizing support for this emerging doctrine that seeks to break the cycle of choosing to look the other way when mass atrocities occur. Today, instead of standing on the sidelines, we urge the Prime Minister of Canada to enlarge this tradition by making mass atrocity prevention—the prevention of genocide, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing, in particular—a national security priority and a vital part of Canada’s foreign policy.
As retired Lieutenant-General and Senator Roméo Dallaire declares: “Where there is a will, there is a way. Let’s go!”
Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS)
For more information, please visit the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.
LGen the Hon. Roméo Dallaire was Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) prior to and during the 1994 genocide. He is a Canadian Senator, a distinguished Senior Fellow at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) at Concordia University, Co-Director of the MIGS Will to Intervene Project, and one of The Simons Foundation’s Peace Leaders. Professor Frank Chalk is Founding Co-Director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) at Concordia University and is also a Peace Leader at The Simons Foundation.