History of the Aegis Trust archive and documentation department

The Genocide Archive of Rwanda was established by the archive and documentation department of the Aegis Trust Rwanda, a non-governmental organisation that strives to prevent mass atrocity and genocide through education.

The Aegis Trust

The Aegis Trust was founded in the year 2000 by brothers Dr. James and Dr. Stephen Smith, who are also the founders of the UK’s first Holocaust Memorial and Education Centre in 1995. Aegis was created in response to the genocide crises that took place during the 1990s in Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo. It was established to apply lessons learnt from previous genocides and warn the world of the threat of genocide. It fights against genocide by building the political will to take preventive action against mass atrocities. In Rwanda, Aegis is based in the capital Kigali and works across the country.

The Kigali Genocide Memorial

In 2001, in collaboration with Rwanda’s National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG), the Aegis Trust raised the $2 million required to build the Kigali Genocide Memorial. The centre was officially opened on 7 April 2004 to mark the tenth commemoration of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. The memorial is the final resting place for up to 259,000 victims of the genocide and serves as a place where people can grieve for their lost loved ones and remember them. It also serves as a museum where both local and international visitors can learn about the history, implementation and consequences of the genocide. The centre has three permanent exhibitions which include a history of the genocide, a children’s memorial, and an exhibition on the history of some genocides around the world.

The archive and Documentation Department

Large amounts of information and material were collected locally and internationally to create the exhibitions at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. After it was opened, there were concerns about what was going to happen to the additional materials that had been collected but not used for the exhibitions: As a result, on 10 December 2010, an archive and documentation department was officially established at the Aegis Trust to manage and preserve the excess materials, and thus the Genocide Archive Rwanda collections were created.