The power of courage and altruism: Reflections from Rwanda to the present day


Tuesday 28 May 2019, 18:00 - 20:00

ICRC Humanitarium, Avenue de la Paix 17, 1202 Geneva

Why do some people help others even if this means putting themselves at risk? The power of courage and altruism has been seen many times throughout history, from the 1st World War through to the present day. When the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda unfolded 25 years ago, at break-neck speed, catching the world by surprise, a few individuals risked their lives and freedom to help those being targeted. What makes people put the safety and humanity of others first, completely selflessly, even when the law, government or regime forbids them to?

This poignant event will hear from those who felt compelled to save others, and those who were saved, in Rwanda and other humanitarian crises. The event will draw on witness accounts and testimonies to reflect on how courage and altruism are present even in the most challenging and shocking circumstances and how this can help us understand their combined power during future crises.

Conference introduction

Video from Mr. Adama Dieng, UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide.
Introductory remarks from Professor Doris Schopper, Director of CERAH and Member of the ICRC Assembly.
Welcome from Dr. François Xavier Ngarambe, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the UN and other international organisations in Geneva.
Video message from Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, former Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda.

Panel discussion

Dr. Hervé Le Guillouzic, Medical doctor and former Head of Health Services at the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Mr. Cesar Murangira, President of the Association of Genocide survivors IBUKA, Memory and Justice.
Ms. Jeanine Mukandanga, Survivor of genocide in Rwanda.
Representative from MSF: Aquarius Mediterranean rescue ship.

Professor Pierre Monforte, University of Leicester, a research specialist in altruism and humanitarian action, will reflect more broadly on altruism and solidarity: what underlies these behaviors, and what lessons can be drawn for the future?

Q & A session with audience

First ever attribution of the Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for exceptional courage with video messages from Brigadier General Babacar Faye, UN Department of Peace-Keeping Operations and Ms. Yacine Diagne, widow of Captain Mbaye Diagne.

Professor Schopper will provide concluding remarks.

RSVP by clicking on the button above or emailing by 24 May 2019.