Should we remember genocide?

Timo Leimeister/ April 7, 2017

In December 2003 the General Assembly came together to decide on Resolution A/RES/58/234. This bureaucratic name covers a subject which is not bureaucratic at all: the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda.

An article by Chairperson Timo Leimeister and Board Member Iason Giannakis


Nine years after Rwandan society was shattered by mass violence, the international community established a Remembrance Day, intended to restore the dignity of victims through acknowledgement and commemoration of their suffering. By stating “never again”, the General Assembly aimed for prevention through remembrance not just in Rwanda but worldwide. As Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres said: “The only way to truly honour the memory of those who were killed in Rwanda is to ensure that such events never occur again”.

© Wikimedia Commons

But it is not only prevention that should be adressed today. The United Nations officially calls today a Day of Reflection. TThis is what we wish to address in this article. We wish to include the idea of reflection on the Remembrance Day. Should we even remember mass violence? And who, actually, are we? 

The Resolution specifically encourages all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other relevant international organizations, as well as civil society organizations to observe this day. We think that you should be included as well.

Therefore, we have prepared ten questions to help you think about this day. As well as thinking about them yourself, you can share your thoughts with us if you wish. Further information on this can be found below.

  • Why do we need a United Nations Resolution to have this Remembrance Day?
  • Can the Remembrance Day contribute to the prevention of further genocides in Rwanda or even worldwide? 
  • Should you remember the Rwandan genocide? And why?
  • If yes, as who? As a European? As a human? As …?
  • If yes, why specifically today?
  • Should the Remembrance Day serve a specific purpose? If so, what is it?
  • How does the Remembrance Day help those who still suffer in Rwanda? Should it?
  • Who or what should be remembered?
  • Should perpetrators be remembered as well? Why, or why not?
  • Do you feel annoyed by all these Remembrance Days?

We are interested in your thoughts. Do you have an interesting or unusual perspective that you would like to share? Feel free to send any reflections you have about any or all of the questions by email to info@mvai.ngo. If you wish, your reflections could be published on our website.

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