21 April 2014
Former Security Council President apologises for collective failure to prevent Rwandan genocide; states called on to meet responsibility to prevent atrocities
On 16 April, the United Nations Security Council marked the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda and adopted a resolution that calls on the international community to recommit to prevent and combat such grave crimes. During the special meeting UN Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, emphasised that present-day conflicts reveal that the protection of peoples suffering from atrocities is still ‘lagging and elusive.’ Eliasson called on all states to meet their responsibility to prevent genocide and other severe crimes, to protect and promote human rights, and to reinforce diversity and civil society.
The former Permanent Representative of New Zealand, Coling Keating, who was the president of the Security Council in 1994, addressed the meeting by stating that the Security Council ‘refused to recognize that genocide was being perpetrated against the Tutsi in Rwanda and failed in its responsibilities to reinforce the UN peacekeeping mission [there] in order to protect as many innocent civilians as possible.’ Keating continued by stating that ‘my first responsibility today is to remember the victims, the almost 1 million who died, and the survivors…this briefing also provides a fitting opportunity, for me in my capacity as former President of the Council, to apologize for what we failed to do in 1994 and for that to be formally recorded in the official records of the Security Council.’