May 28 conference: The power of courage & altruism. Reflections from

Rwanda to the present day.

Geneva, May 23, 2019. The Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action (CERAH), a joint centre of the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute (IHEID) is organising a conference which will explore the power of courage and altruism from Rwanda to the present day.

The conference, which will be opened by the Ambassador of Rwanda, will examine why some people help others even if this means putting themselves at risk? 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.


• 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 Assication of Genocide survivors IBUKA, Memory and Justice.

• Ms. Jeanine Mukandanga, Survivor of genocide in Rwanda.

• Ms. Lauren King, MSF, participant in Aquarius rescue ship missions

After the panel, Professor Pierre Monforte, from the 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?

Chair of the event, Professor Doris Schopper, Director of CERAH, commented that "This conference is very timely and pertinent. As we witness humanitarian space ever decreasing, with the politicisation of aid, the targeting of humanitarian workers, and an often unwelcoming environment for refugees and migrants across the world, this conference will be looking at the power of altruism. What makes people want to help others, often putting themselves at risk. What drives them, and what can we learn from this. How can we harness this to ensure those caught up in humanitarian crises worldwide get the help they need, and that those providing it are protected and respected".

The event will also remember Captain Mbaye Diagne, a UN Peacekeeper, who saved over 1,000 people during the genocide against the tutsis in Rwanda, before being killed himself. The first medal in his name, was announced by the UN this week. The conference will hear from his widow and his Commander during the Rwanda mission, who will pay tribute.

Media are invited to attend the event. For the full programme visit

Venue and time: The Humanitarium, Avenue de la Paix 17, 1202 Geneva, 18.00-20.00.

For more information contact / Tel: 00 41 22 908 4471.