UNITED NATIONS — The diplomat who was president of the U.N. Security Council in April 1994 apologized Wednesday for the council's refusal to recognize that genocide was taking place in Rwanda and for doing nothing to halt the slaughter of more than 1 million people.
Former New Zealand Ambassador Colin Keating issued the rare apology during a council meeting to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the genocide and examine what has been done since to prevent new genocides.
The open session elicited praise for the United Nation's stepped-up commitment to put human rights at the center of its work but widespread criticism of its failure to prevent ongoing atrocities in Syria, Central African Republic and South Sudan.
The council unanimously adopted a resolution calling on all countries "to recommit to prevent and fight against genocide" and reaffirming its responsibility to protect people from crimes against humanity. It condemned any denial of the Rwanda genocide and underscored the lessons learned from the slaughter of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power acknowledged that the United States supported pulling U.N. troops from Rwanda rather than reinforcing them, which could have saved thousands.
At a commemoration Wednesday evening, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Rwandan and U.S. ambassadors and other representatives lit candles in memory of the victims.