Remarks by UN Resident Coordinator, Dr Coumba Mar Gadio, International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda: 14 April 2021

• The Honourable Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Ms Godfridah SUMAILI, MP
• Caritas Zambia Programme Officer Mr Edmond Kangamungazi

  • The Universal Peace Federation Secretary General Reverend Rudolf Faerbar
  • UN colleagues
  • Other Civil Society representatives
  •  Youth representatives
  • Children from all the schools participating
  • Members of the media
  • Ladies and gentlemen

Today we gather virtually on a solemn note to remember the lives of 1 million Tutsis and some moderate Hutus who were killed during the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Those who perished were people just like ourselves but fell victim to some people in a society that decided to throw away co-existence and pick arms to eliminate those who were different from them.

As the United Nations, we each year take time to organise events to reflect on the sad reality about the events in Rwanda which happened 27 years ago serve in order to help humanity learn from the past and chart a better and more peaceful future.

Guest of Honour, ladies and gentlemen

We believe that peace in an important requirement and stepping stone towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. Without peace there can be no development. It is, therefore, important to promote peace wherever we are. Peace in one country means peace globally because instability affects all of us as we are in a Global Village.

In Zambia, the United Nations is providing support towards the upcoming general elections in August this year. Through the Democracy Strengthening in Zambia Project and through the support of donors, we are supporting Zambia to have peaceful, credible and transparent, free and fair elections.  

Zambia has enjoyed peace since independence and has been a beacon of peace in Africa. I wish to encourage the Zambian people not to take this peace for granted but guard it jealously. I especially appeal to the youth to cherish peace and strive to co-exist with those different from you. Embrace and respect each other’s’ differences and focus on things which unite and not divide you. Peace is a responsibility for all of us.

Let me now read the statement from the UN Secretary General, His Excellency, Mr Antonio Guterres, which he issued for this commemoration on 7 April 2021.


This year marks 27 years since more than one million people were systematically murdered in less than three months in Rwanda. 

They were overwhelmingly Tutsi, but also Hutu and others who opposed the genocide. 

Those days in 1994 remain in our collective conscience as among the most horrific in recent human history. 

On this Day, we honour those who were murdered, we reflect on the suffering and we recognize the resilience of those who survived. 

As we join in solidarity with the people of Rwanda, we must take a hard look at today’s world and ensure that we heed the lessons of 27 years ago. 

Today, around the globe, people are threatened by extremist groups determined on boosting their ranks through social polarization and political and cultural manipulation. 

These extremist movements represent the principal security threat in many countries. 

While the technology and techniques that extremists use are evolving, the vile messages and rhetoric remain the same. 

The dehumanization of communities, misinformation and hate speech are stoking the fires of violence. 

The Covid-19 pandemic underscores the urgency of addressing deepening divides. 

The global health crisis has profoundly affected the entire spectrum of human rights in every region, further fuelling discrimination, social polarization and inequalities – all of which can lead to violence and conflict. 

We saw what happened in Rwanda in 1994, and we know the horrific consequences when hate is allowed to prevail. 

Preventing history from repeating itself requires countering these hate-driven movements that have become a transnational threat. 

We must redouble our efforts, and forge a Common Agenda, to renew and reinvigorate our collective actions going forward. 

In doing this, we must defend human rights and continue to push for policies that fully respect all members of society. 

Rwanda experienced one of the most painful chapters in modern human history, but its people have rebuilt from the ashes. 

After suffering unspeakable gender-based violence and discrimination, Rwanda’s women now hold more than 60 per cent of parliamentary seats – making Rwanda a world leader. 

The people of Rwanda have shown us the power of justice and reconciliation, and the possibility of progress. 

On this solemn Day, let us all commit to building a world guided by human rights and dignity for all. 




I thank you all and look forward to fruitful commemoration and the panel discussion. I do hope that we will all learn something which we can share with others to help build peace wherever we are.



Speech by
Coumba Mar Gadio
Resident Coordinator
Coumba Mar Gadio, PhD
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office