High-Level Commemoration 25th Anniversary of the Genocide in Srebrenica, 10 July 2020
Speech10 July 2020
Remarks by Irish Minister of State for European Affairs
Thomas Byrne, T.D.
25th Anniversary of the Genocide in Srebrenica
10 July 2020
We gather here virtually today to mark the 25th anniversary of one of the worst atrocities to have occurred in Europe since the end of World War II.
Twenty five years ago tomorrow, in the small city of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina, 8,000 unarmed men and boys were rounded up and systematically murdered, solely on account of their Bosniak identity.
This event represents a shameful episode in modern European history, the memory of which can never be eradicated.
Anyone who has visited Srebrenica will know how the pain and wounds of the evil acts perpetrated in that city are still all too fresh and alive for the families and friends of those murdered.
Tomorrow, in Srebrenica, more burials will take place of the innocent victims of that genocide.
We said at the time, and following hard on the almost simultaneous tragedy of Rwanda, that this must never happen again.
This must remain our goal, the only irrefutable lesson that we can draw from those terrible events.
This determination, to work to ensure that there can never again be another Srebrenica, is one which motivates all those who truly subscribe to multilateralism and international cooperation, based on the fundamental principles set out in the UN Charter.
In order to prevent such grave crimes from recurring, we must ensure that perpetrators are held accountable, and I reaffirm Ireland’s support for the International Criminal Court, as a key actor in the fight against impunity.
The memory of what occurred in Srebrenica will certainly be a driving force for Ireland as we prepare to assume our elected membership of the Security Council commencing next January.
Ireland, throughout our 65 years of UN membership, has always sought to be a voice advocating full respect for human rights, the upholding of international law, and dialogue and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. We share these values with our EU Partners and with those Member States we will have the privilege of serving with on the Council.
Ireland is a country which itself has known conflict and knows the challenges of building peace and promoting reconciliation. Twenty two years on from our own historic Good Friday Agreement, the hard work of ending centuries of division and mistrust and bringing communities together still continues.
As a Security Council member, Ireland will seek to draw on our own experience of conflict and on our long and distinguished record of service to UN peace-keeping to help the United Nations to promote those concepts – respect and protection of basic human rights, transitional justice, truth and reconciliation, conflict prevention – which are so important and key in the aftermath of atrocities such as Srebrenica.
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Dayton peace accords which have fashioned modern Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The progress which Bosnia-Herzegovina has made over the past quarter-century, in building up its institutions of government and developing its economy and society, has been remarkable.
Along with the other countries of the Western Balkans, the citizens and government of Bosnia-Herzegovina have committed themselves irrevocably to a European perspective and to pursuing their goal to become members of the European Union.
As a long-standing advocate for enlargement, Ireland remains committed to doing all it can, in close collaboration with our EU Partners, to assist Bosnia-Herzegovina and the other Western Balkans countries along their European path.
We do this in the simple belief that offering the prospect of EU membership to all those countries who aspire to join and who fulfil the necessary criteria, represents the best way of promoting peace, stability and prosperity in a region which represents an integral and cherished part of Europe.
As a Security Council member, Ireland will work hard to ensure that the United Nations continues to accompany and offers its full support to Bosnia-Herzegovina in consolidating the hard-gained peace which has flowed from the Dayton Accords. This must continue to be a priority for us all in the international community.
Today therefore is a day for bowing our heads in remembrance, for standing with all the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina and for committing to a better future. We are proud to do so.