Senators introduce resolution marking 20 years since the Rwandan genocide

Resolution affirms U.S. commitment to genocide and atrocity prevention

Press Contact : 

Adam_Sharon@foreign.senate.gov



WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) introduced a resolution on Monday night marking 20 years since the genocide in Rwanda, which claimed 800,000 lives in 100 days starting on April 7, 1994. The resolution honors the memory of those lost and expresses support for the people of Rwanda on this day of reflection. It also affirms that it is in the national interest of the United States to prevent and mitigate acts of genocide and mass atrocities, and condemns ongoing atrocities perpetrated against innocent civilians in Syria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Sudan.

Senator Menendez chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senators Coons and Flake are the chair and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs.

“Through reconciliation and resilience, the Rwandan people have led their nation into a new phase of economic and social growth and are working to protect civilians in other countries through vital contributions to African Union and UN peacekeeping missions,” Chairman Menendez said. “As Rwanda faces new challenges, the United States stands with its people and remains committed to their success.”

“The United States Senate joins the people of Rwanda in mourning this tragic day and honoring the memory of all whose lives were taken,” Senator Coons said. “Though no consolation to the families of those lost, the world has the responsibility to fulfill the promise of ‘never again.’ It is my hope that the memory of the Rwandan genocide will continue to embolden world leaders to act decisively in the face of genocide and mass atrocities, compelling us to act to protect civilians and prevent the loss of innocent lives. As we consider the U.S. and international response to ongoing atrocities in the Central African Republic, Syria, South Sudan, and Sudan, I strongly support U.S. leadership, and close coordination with the international community, to prevent and mitigate mass atrocities.”  

"This week marks the 20-year anniversary of the Rwandan genocide,” Senator Flake said. “This week, I join my colleagues in reaffirming the United States’ commitment to working with the international community to prevent mass atrocities and protecting populations at risk of crimes against humanity.”

The resolution affirms that it is in the national interest of the United States to work in close coordination with international partners to help prevent and mitigate acts of genocide and mass atrocities.

The resolution also urges President Obama to confer with Congress on an ongoing basis regarding the priorities and objectives of the Atrocities Prevention Board. Additionally, it supports ongoing U.S. and international efforts to strengthen multilateral peacekeeping capacities; build capacity for improving civilian protection in areas of conflict; ensure measures of accountability for perpetrators of mass atrocities and crimes against humanity; and strengthen the efforts of U.S. and international institutions working to prevent mass atrocities and genocide.

The full text of the resolution can be downloaded here and is pasted below:

RESOLUTION

Recognizing 20 years since the genocide in Rwanda and affirming it is in the national interest of the United States to work in close coordination with international partners to help prevent and mitigate acts of genocide and mass atrocities


Whereas in the aftermath of the Holocaust, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide declaring that genocide, whether committed in a time of peace or war, is a crime under international law;

Whereas the United States was the first country to sign the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and the Senate voted to ratify the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide on February 11, 1986;

Whereas, for approximately 100 days between April 7, 1994 and July 1994, more than 800,000 civilians were killed in a genocide in Rwanda that targeted members of the Tutsi, moderate Hutu, and Twa populations, resulting in the horrific deaths of nearly 70% of the Tutsi population living in Rwanda;

Whereas the massacres of innocent Rwandan civilians were premeditated and systematic attempts to eliminate the Tutsi population by Hutu extremists, fueled by hatred and incitement propagated by newspapers and radio;

Whereas in addition to systematic targeting of an ethnic minority in Rwanda resulting in the mass slaughter of innocent civilians, rape was also used as a weapon of war; 

Whereas despite the deployment of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) in October 1993 following the end of the Rwandan Civil War, its mandate was insufficient to ensure the protection of large swathes of the population, demonstrating the inability of the United Nations to effectively respond to the unfolding genocide and stop or mitigate its impact;

Whereas on July 4, 1994, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a trained military group consisting of formerly exiled Tutsis, began its takeover of the country, which resulted in an ending of the genocide, though not an complete end to the violence, including retribution;

Whereas in October 1994, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was established as the first international tribunal with the mandate to prosecute the crime of genocide and ultimately prosecuted 63 individuals for war crimes, including genocide and crimes against humanity as well as the first convictions for rape as a weapon of war;                                                                                                                                                                                           

Whereas the United States Government supports initiatives to ensure that victims of genocide and mass atrocities are not forgotten, and has committed to work with international partners to help prevent genocide and mass atrocities and identify and support a range of actions to protect civilian populations at risk;

Whereas in July 2004, both the Senate (SCONRES 133) and House (SCONRES 467) passed concurrent resolutions declaring that “the atrocities unfolding in Darfur, Sudan, are genocide” and calling on the U.S. government and international community to take measures to address the situation immediately;

Whereas in September 2004, the government of the United States, in testimony by the Secretary of State  before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, declared the ongoing conflict in Darfur, Sudan a “genocide” perpetrated by the government based in Khartoum against its own people and affecting over 2.4 million Sudanese including an estimated 200,000 fatalities;

Whereas in September 2005, the United States joined other members of the United Nations in adopting United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/1, which affirmed that the international community has a responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapter VI (Military enforcement) and VIII (Regional Arrangements) of the United Nations Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity;

Whereas in December 2011, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 71, recognizing the United States’ national interest in helping to prevent and mitigate acts of genocide and other mass atrocities against civilians, and urging the development of a whole of government approach to prevent and mitigate such acts;

Whereas in April 2012, the President established the Atrocities Prevention Board within the United States inter-agency structure, chaired by National Security Staff, to help identify and more effectively address atrocity threats, including genocide, as a core national security interest and core moral responsibility;

Whereas in July 2013, the National Intelligence Council completed the first ever National Intelligence Estimate on the global risk for mass atrocities and genocide;

Whereas in January 2014, the National Director of Intelligence testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence stating that “the overall risk of mass atrocities worldwide will probably increase in 2014 and beyond…Much of the world will almost certainly turn to the United States for leadership to prevent and respond to mass atrocities”;

Whereas, despite U.S. and other nations’ measures taken since 1994, the international community still faces the challenges of responding to escalation of violence, atrocities, and religious-based conflict in many corners of the globe including, Syria, and the Central African Republic, and a failure of the international community to appropriately respond to and address the rapidly deteriorating situation could result in further atrocities; and

Whereas the United Nations Security Council was unable to pass a resolution condemning the government of Bashar al Assad of Syria for the use of chemical weapons against civilians, killing more than 1,400 of his own people in August 2013; and

Whereas the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended to the United Nations Security Council the establishment of a United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic with the primary mandate to protect civilians;

Resolved, that the Senate –

Recognizes the United Nations’ designation of April 7 as the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda;

Honors the memory of the more than 800,000 victims of the Rwandan genocide and expresses sympathy for those whose lives were forever changed by this horrific event;

Expresses support for the people of Rwanda as they remember the victims of genocide;

Affirms it is in the national interest of the United States to work in close coordination with international partners to prevent and mitigate acts of genocide and mass atrocities; 

Condemns ongoing acts of violence and mass atrocities perpetrated against innocent civilians in Syria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Sudan and elsewhere;

Urges the President to confer with Congress on an ongoing basis regarding the priorities and objectives of the Atrocities Prevention Board; 

Urges the President to work with Congress to strengthen the United States government’s ability to identify and more rapidly respond to genocide and mass atrocities in order to prevent where possible and mitigate the impact of such events; and

Supports ongoing U.S. and international efforts to:

strengthen multilateral peacekeeping capacities;

build capacity for democratic rule of law, security sector reform, and other measures to improve civilian protection in areas of conflict;

ensure measures of accountability for perpetrators of mass atrocities and crimes against humanity; and

strengthen the work of U.S. and international institutions, such as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which are working to document, identify, and prevent mass  atrocities and inspire citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred and prevent genocide.

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