Irwin Cotler, former Canadian Minister of Justice and MP and founder of the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights, addressed the 12th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracysee quotes below, followed by the full prepared remarks.

For links to other speakers’ quotes, videos, livestream, and more, click here.

12th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, Main Event, Tuesday, February 18, 2020

On Raoul Wallenberg:

“One person with the compassion to care and the courage to act can transform history.”

On the goal of this conference and the need for advocacy:

“We are here today, to remind these international institutions of their collective responsibility.”

“What makes these atrocities so unspeakable is that they were preventable. Nobody could say that they did not know. They knew but they did not act. Indifference and inaction has been accompanying these mass atrocities.”

“Our responsibility is to ensure and to let victims know that they are not alone – that we will act and march in solidarity with them, until justice is secured, until their freedom is secured.”

12th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, UN Opening, Monday, February 17, 2020

On the UN and human rights:

“A United Nations that does not put human rights on the forefront of its advocacy, is a United Nations that betrays its advocacy and forfeits its future. Right now, the UN is in fact, betraying its ideals.” 

On our responsibility:

“We have to collectively take our responsibilities and name and shame violators of human rights.”

“Each of us has the capacity to transform the ledger every day, from evil to good. To speak and to act on behalf of political prisoners. To let them know that we stand with them. To let them know that we will not relent in our advocacy for them.”