Tag Archives: xenophobia

The Secretary-General -Remarks on the 25th Anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda

12 April 2019
[as delivered]

I am honoured to be with you on this solemn and moving occasion.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

In one of the darkest chapters in recent human history, more than one million people – overwhelmingly Tutsi, but also moderate Hutu and others who opposed the genocide – were systematically killed in less than three months.

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

I would particularly like to acknowledge the presence of our dear guests from Rwanda – Mrs. Esther Mujawayo and Father Marcel Uwineza – who survived the genocide and who will be sharing their stories with us.

Today we stand in solidarity with the people of Rwanda.

But, our reflection on the Rwandan genocide also must should beyond one country and one moment in history.

We must take a hard look at the present.

As we renew our resolve to prevent such atrocities from ever happening again, we are seeing dangerous trends of rising xenophobia, racism and intolerance in many parts of the world.

Particularly troubling is the current widespread proliferation of hate speech and incitement to violence. Things that were very clearly present in Rwanda immediately before the genocide.

They are an affront to our values, and threaten human rights, social stability and peace.

The massacre at two mosques in New Zealand a few weeks ago is just the latest tragedy rooted in such poison.

Today’s commemoration gives us an opportunity to once again raise our voices against racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, including social and ethnic discrimination, anti-Muslim hatred and anti-Semitism.

Wherever they occur, these evils should be identified, confronted and stopped to prevent them leading, as they have in the past, to hate crimes and genocide.

I call on all political, religious and civil society leaders to reject hate speech and discrimination, and to work vigorously to address and mitigate the root causes that undermine social cohesion and create conditions for hatred and intolerance.

The capacity for evil resides in all societies.

But, so too, do the qualities of understanding, kindness, justice and reconciliation.

That is one of the profound lessons of the Rwandan experience.

The country’s recovery is a rightful source of pride and comfort for the people and Government of Rwanda.

I would also like to commend Rwanda for its exemplary role in the international community.

Rwanda is today the fourth largest contributor to UN peacekeeping operations.

It is notable that a nation that has endured the worst atrocities should risk its soldiers to ensure those atrocities cannot happen elsewhere.

After having suffered unspeakable gender-based violence, women now hold 60 per cent of parliamentary seats – another example that Rwanda can share with the world.

Rwanda has also embraced environmental sustainability.

As a pioneer in banning single-use plastic bags, it is now one of the cleanest nations on earth.

In all, Rwanda’s experience holds so many lessons for humanity.

From the darkest depths, the country has risen in a quarter century as a pioneer for the sustainable future we all strive for.

On this day of commemoration, let us all pledge to work together to build a harmonious future for all people, everywhere.

This is the best way to honour those who lost their lives so tragically in Rwanda 25 years ago.

Thank you.

The United Nations Secretary General- Message on The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 21 March

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an occasion for all of us to renew our promise to end racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred. The recent massacre at two mosques in New Zealand is the latest tragedy rooted in such poison.

No country or community is immune from racial and religious hatred and the terrorism of bigots. I am deeply alarmed by the current rise of xenophobia, racism and intolerance. Hate speech is entering the mainstream, spreading like wildfire through social media and radio. It is spreading in liberal democracies and authoritarian States alike.

These dark forces menace democratic values, social stability and peace. When people are attacked, physically, verbally or on social media because of their race, religion or ethnicity, all of society is diminished. It is crucial for us all to join hands, stand up and defend the principles of equality and human dignity.

We must all work harder to repair the fissures and polarization that are so prevalent in our societies today. We must nurture mutual understanding and invest in making diversity a success. And we must counter and reject political figures who exploit differences for electoral gain.

We must also ask why so many people feel excluded and tempted by messages of intolerance against others. We need to engage everyone in dismantling the harmful and specious notion of racial superiority. Even today, decades after the pseudo-science of the Nazis contributed to the Holocaust, the world is seeing the persistence – and even a surge – of neo-Nazi thinking and white supremacy. We must bury such lies once and for all.

Today let us all resolve to fight racism and discrimination wherever it occurs. Let us reflect on how we can promote non-discrimination in every country and at every level. We are all connected by our humanity. We are all equal. We should all be looking out for each other’s welfare.

Message in other UN official languages: ArabicChineseFrenchRussianSpanish.

United Nations Secretary Generals Message on International Day Of Education

Today we celebrate the first International Day of Education.

Education transforms lives. As United Nations Messenger of Peace Malala Yousafzai once said: “one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world”. Nelson Mandela rightly called education “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Long before I served at the United Nations or held public office in my own country, I was a teacher. In the slums of Lisbon, I saw that education is an engine for poverty eradication and a force for peace.

Today, education is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals.

We need education to reduce inequalities and improve health.

We need education to achieve gender equality and eliminate child marriage.

We need education to protect our planet’s resources.

And we need education to fight hate speech, xenophobia and intolerance, and to nurture global citizenship.

Yet at least 262 million children, adolescents and youth are out of school, most of them girls.  Millions more who attend school are not mastering the basics.

This is a violation of their human right to education. The world cannot afford a generation of children and young people who lack the skills they need to compete in the 21st century economy, nor can we afford to leave behind half of humanity.

We must do far more to advance Sustainable Development Goal 4, to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Education can also break and reverse cycles of intergenerational poverty. Studies show that if all girls and boys complete secondary education, 420 million people could be lifted out of poverty.

Let us prioritize education as a public good; support it with cooperation, partnerships and funding; and recognize that leaving no one behind starts with education.