Inspirational UN lawyer's message to New Zealand

Warning:  This article contains content which may be disturbing to some people.

He lived through both the Rwandan genocide and a horrific terrorist attack, now one of the United Nation's youngest lawyers has a message for New Zealand.

Anthony Ssembatya, now 31 and working for the United Nations, was just eight-years-old when he witnessed first hand the massacre which claimed almost a million lives in Rwanda in 1994.

While visiting New Zealand he spoke with Newshub Nation about his past, his current projects and his message for Kiwis.

"We can create a more free, more equal and more peaceful world through joint partnerships. The discussion cannot happen in isolation,"

"The world is becoming smaller, it is becoming very globalised, so issues of the world have to be addressed by everyone."

He says thousands of lives were saved in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide because Uganda opened its borders to refugees and this should serve as a lesson.

"This is a moral lesson to wealthy nations. It's not about the money or the resources you have. It's only human that when people are in need you open your doors to them."

Mr Ssembatya says what he witnessed during the Rwandan genocide motivated him to fight for women's rights and empowerment worldwide.

He currently works with the United Nations Girls Education Initiative and founded a charity in Uganda which currently supports 300 children and 180 young mothers.

He is also involved with a UN Women project aiming to create a constitutional database which illustrates how closely a country's constitution aligns with women's issues.   

Mr Ssembatya says women are usually the victims of violence and not the perpetrators and are too often locked out of policy making discussions.

"We perpetuate evils against women yet we keep them out of the discussion,"

"When women and girls attain education we have a happier, more free and more equal world."

In 2010 Mr Ssembatya was on a bus from Nairobi to Kampala when a terrorist detonated an explosive onboard, killing most of the passengers.

Mr Ssembatya says his survival was an "awakening moment". He believes terrorism is a global problem that needs to be addressed at a structural level internationally.  

He now has a Masters in Conflict Resolution and is currently finishing his PHD, focusing on 'citizenship and statelessness'.

He warns New Zealanders to not be complacent as a result of our distance from other countries.

"Kiwis are global actors, be aware that you cannot isolate yourselves, no matter how far away you are from the rest of the world."

"You cannot isolate yourselves from the discussions around women, poverty and terrorism. Someday, if you isolate yourselves, these issues will come to you."

Watch the video for the full interview.

Newshub Nation.

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