Remarks by Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, U.S. Alternate Representative to the United Nations for Special Political Affairs, at the United Nations Annual Commemoration of the Rwanda Genocide

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
U.S. Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
April 15, 2013


Madam Foreign Minister, Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President of the General Assembly, Members of the General Assembly, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nineteen years ago, Rwanda was torn asunder by a great evil.  More than 800,000 men, women, and children were killed in a wave of shocking violence.  Mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, sisters and brothers were systematically maimed and murdered.  Countless others survived, but live with the deep physical and emotional scars of this tragedy.  Today, we stand with the people of Rwanda to mark the anniversary of the the Rwandan genocide.  We cannot erase or fully assuage the pain and trauma of their loss.  But we do remember, mourn and honor the victims.  We stand with the survivors and grieve with them.  And we rededicate ourselves to learning the lessons of this and other genocides so that we can end genocide once and for all.  This is our duty to all who perished and to all those who are building Rwanda's future.

Nearly two decades ago, the world watched as the horror in Rwanda unfolded.  While individuals spoke up, the international community writ large remained silent.  This deafening silence is our enduring shame and serves as our impetus to act collectively in the future to prevent genocide.  Too often, the international community has stood by when populations were experiencing or at risk of mass atrocities and paid lip service to their suffering.  Cognizant of our past collective failures, we owe it to the victims and survivors of genocides past as well as future generations to develop the capacities and muster the political will to prevent genocide.  We must not be content merely to let our consciences be shocked; but rather, we must take meaningful, concrete action whenever the specter of mass atrocities appears.  Only by deed, not just words, can we truly honor the victims and their legacy.

While we, the international community, commemorate the Rwandan genocide and pledge action in future circumstances, we must not forget the true heroes of Rwanda: the millions of Rwandans who chose to move forward and rise from the ashes of genocide.  That Rwanda has come so far since the dark days of 1994 is a testament to the resilience and vision, courage and resolve of the Rwandan people.

We share their sorrow, celebrate those who have worked to usher in a new chapter in Rwanda's history, and marvel at the stable, prosperous country they have built.  And from their example, we draw inspiration to protect the vulnerable and prevent atrocities so that such evil is never repeated.

Thank you.


PRN: 2013/053