Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative, Olivier Nduhungirehe, at the UN Security Council debate on conflict prevention

Mr. President,

I thank you and your delegation for organizing this important debate on conflict prevention, and for the comprehensive concept note you circulated among UN member states. Let me first acknowledge the dedication of the United Kingdom for conflict prevention in this Council; I recall that during UK’s previous presidency in June 2013, the President had convened a meeting on conflict prevention, focused on effective management of natural resources. I take this opportunity to reiterate our support to the adopted resolution 2171, which was introduced by the United Kingdom and cosponsored by a large majority of Council members, including Rwanda.

I thank the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, for his briefing. His presence here today once again highlights his commitment to conflict prevention, as a core of the work of his office. I also thank High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay for her last briefing in this Council, under that capacity, and wish her well in her future endeavours.

Mr. President,

The concept note provided by the Presidency for this open debate pertinently highlighted the need for the Security Council to shift from a culture of reaction to that of prevention. Indeed, with the numerous tragic and pressing conflicts that persist in the world today, it is inevitable for the Security Council to improve its record in fully understanding early warning signs of conflict and responding through early action, if the Council has to remain relevant. Although conflict prevention has become the centerpiece in the work of the United Nations, in the wake of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, increasing intrastate conflicts, mainly on the African continent and in the Middle East, are a demonstration that the concept of “conflict prevention” has become more a theoretical concept than a practical reality. And that the activities of the Security Council in the past years have shown interest for crisis management than conflict prevention, as the latter is only considered as a thematic debate, once of twice a year.

This is not to suggest however that the UN has remained idle in efforts to prevent emergence of and relapse into conflict. Indeed, there has been a huge increase in the level of international preventive diplomacy, diplomatic peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations, for the most part by the United Nations, and more recently in partnership with regional organizations. I here wish to pay tribute to the Secretary-General, for his tireless efforts in conflict prevention, including by preparing important framework documents and exercising his good offices around the world. But as the Secretary-General stated, “good news is no news”, as most of his efforts are fruitful.

Mr. President,

The United Nations should be equipped to fully understand the different situations, be flexible, as circumstances change, and apply a range of possible measures, both long-term structural and short-term operational, that can be deployed to deal with indications of early warning signs that might lead to conflict. We believe that the primacy of prevention resides in understanding the root causes of conflicts, including the political, economic and cultural dimensions of each particular conflict, and take effective measures to address them. Early warning and response capability is a critical requirement for effective early prevention. And this is a conversation that Rwanda brought to the Security Council, when we organized, during our first presidency in April 2013, a briefing on prevention of conflicts in Africa by addressing its root causes, during which a presidential statement was adopted.

As you might be aware, one of the biggest challenges in the UN system has been the Secretariat capacity in conflict prevention, as pointed out by the recommendations of the 2000 Brahimi Panel on Peace Operations. The adoption of the 2005 World Summit, which embraced the concept of the responsibility to protect and called for the international community to support the United Nations to establish an early warning capability, was a positive step forward. Nonetheless, mechanisms of Early Warning are rarely used to respond to recurring crisis, let alone in preventing them. We therefore call upon the Security Council, especially its permanent members, to increasingly use and support the work of the Office of the Special Advisor on Prevention of Genocide, and that of the Special Advisor for the Responsibility to Protect.

The Secretary General’s Rights Up Front Initiative should be supported and implemented, in order for this organization to respond effectively and correctively curb the escalation of crises. Indeed, protecting human rights is one of the most effective conflict prevention tools. Success in promoting and protecting rights, and in ensuring accountability for their violation, offer effective means to de-escalate conflict and to forestall the human and financial cost of humanitarian crises. That is why the international community, including the UN, should support member states in strengthening the rule of law and capacity building for accountability mechanisms, including judiciary institutions.

Mr. President,

The evolving role of regional and sub-regional organizations in conflict prevention should not be underestimated. We recognize the important role of the African Union and its sub-regional organizations in preventing and mitigating conflicts on our continent. We equally recognize the important role of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and its configurations in addressing the recurring relapse into conflict. It is also important to acknowledge the role of other organizations in supporting and complementing the United Nations in peacekeeping, mediation, facilitation of humanitarian assistance’s delivery or in joint efforts in post-conflict reconstruction.

To conclude, I would appeal to this Council to explore ways to address conflict prevention, not as an annual thematic debate, which has little impact on the ground, but as country-specific debates. And we believe that a more frequent use of article 99 of the UN Charter, a more focused use of the “horizon scanning” sessions and country-specific meetings of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Prevention and Resolution of Conflict in Africa, can help us achieving this goal.

I thank you.


Remarks by Deputy Permanent Representative, Olivier Nduhungirehe, at the UN Security Council briefing on the protection of civilians

Mr. President,

I thank the Delegation of the United Kingdom for organizing this timely and relevant briefing today. I also thank the Deputy-Secretary-General Jan Eliasson; the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer; and the Director and Co-Founder of The Liaison Office, Masood Karokhail, for their respective briefings.

As stated in this Council on several occasions, be it on thematic issues and country specific situations, it is concerning that despite recent strides in strengthening the ability of the United Nations to protect civilians, conflicts around the world are still characterized by a prevailing disrespect for the core principles of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the responsibility to protect people from genocide and other mass atrocities, as reaffirmed by resolution 2150 (2014). Belligerents in various conflict theaters behave in disregard of the rules of war, including the principles of distinction and proportionality. The continued targeted attacks on civilian areas and infrastructure, coupled with the use of heavy weaponry, putting civilian lives in danger.

Mr. President,

It is unfortunate that eleven (11) years after that fateful day of 19 August 2003, when a terrorist attack against the Canal Hotel in Baghdad killed twenty-two (22) people, including the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, whom we remember today, humanitarian workers have continued to be attacked or killed while working in conflict zones. Moreover, restrictions and discrimination imposed by belligerents around the world continued to hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid. This endangers the life of people in need. Perpetrators of such acts must be prosecuted and held accountable.

We reiterate our call on all parties to conflicts to observe strict compliance to international law, to avoid targeting humanitarian workers and their assets, stop militarizing UN and humanitarian facilities, and allow unhindered access to humanitarian assistance to the affected people.

We believe that effective protection of humanitarian workers requires concerted efforts of all stakeholders, including the United Nations, in building a security strategy that ensures broad-based acceptance of the impartiality, neutrality and independence of humanitarian organizations, based on the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols. That requires continuous engagement with all parties to the conflict, and building trust with the relevant political forces, at the local and national level.

Mr. President,

As maintenance of international peace and security remained an essential task of the United Nations, humanitarian organizations rely on the sustained efforts being made in this domain by the UN, especially the Security Council. In this regard, peacekeeping operations play an important role in this mission, as they are often the only reliable force on the ground to create conditions for the humanitarian organizations to operate.

The Security Council should ensure that effective protection of humanitarian workers in armed conflicts is clearly outlined when authorizing peacekeeping mandated missions, as well as the means to carry out those mandates, including an emphasis on a physical protection of humanitarian workers. However, as recalled by the Deputy-Secretary-General, military personnel however should not be directly involved in humanitarian action, as this would associate humanitarian organizations, in the minds of the local authorities and population, with political or military objectives; hence putting their mission into jeopardy. Peacekeeping missions however, should help their host States in strengthening the rule of law and boost their protective, investigative and prosecutorial capacities, in order to ensure accountability and responsibility.

Mr. President,

We believe that the United Nations and humanitarian organizations can take advantage of the evolving role of regional and subregional organizations in building trust with parties to conflicts. Due to their regional, cultural, linguistic and even religious proximity, those organizations are better equipped to conduct knowledge-based and culturally sensitive campaigns, including raising awareness on the compliance with obligations under international humanitarian law. Furthermore, cultural proximity gives regional organizations access to specific conflict zones that would have otherwise risky or hard to reach by other organizations, including the United Nations.

But most importantly, as conflicts remain the major causes of human suffering, including the increasing number of refugees and internally displaced persons, we reiterate our firm belief that conflict prevention is a better protection, including for humanitarian workers. We should strive towards addressing the root causes of conflicts in the first place, and put in place effective early warning mechanisms and mediation tools. In this regard, we look forward to the open debate on prevention of conflicts, convened by the United Kingdom this Thursday.

I will conclude, Mr. President, by paying tribute, on this International Humanitarian Day, to humanitarian workers and their organizations, for their tremendous work on the ground. Not only do they have to deal with humanitarian consequences of increasing natural disasters (mainly due to a man-made climate change) but also, are they now confronted with a concerning upsurge of man-made disasters, which are the armed conflicts that deserve, from this Council and its influential members, a solution-driven consideration instead of the current interest-driven approach.

I thank you.

Remarks by Deputy Permanent Representative, Olivier Nduhungirehe at the UN Security Council briefing on the human rights situation in Ukraine

Mr. President

I thank you for convening this meeting. I also thank Ivan Simonovic, Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, for his briefing on the human rights situation in Ukraine. We also commend the entire team of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission (HRMMU) who continue to diligently perform their mission in this difficult environment.

Early this week, the Council met on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. We expressed our concerns on the recent developments, including the vastly growing number of refugees and Internally Displaced People, as well as their deteriorating humanitarian condition. I would like to recall that, in the same meeting, Rwanda proposed a monthly meeting under the agenda item “the situation in Ukraine”, in order to have a comprehensive view and a regular assessment of the crisis in Ukraine, instead of the current ad-hoc, piecemeal and “letter-based” approach.

Mr. President,

The report under review gives a gruesome description of the situation in east of Ukraine. Since April, more than 1,500 innocent civilians were killed and 4,000 injured. In only five (5) days, between 10th and 15th July, about 478 people were killed, including women and children. Furthermore, the population in areas controlled by armed groups has been subject to abduction, arbitrary detention, forced labor and forced recruitment, sexual harassment torture and execution. On the other hand, Ukrainians, including children, are caught between fighting of armies that continue to deploy heavy weaponry, in disregard of human life and seriously damaging civilian infrastructure. We agree that this could amount to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

Rwanda condemns the use of civilians as human shield by armed groups, such as the incident on 14th June, where two (2) people were killed and eight (8) were wounded. We urge all parties involved to act proportionately and to protect civilians as matter of priority. The issue of abduction and detention is of a particular concern, with more than 900 people reported to have been abducted since mid-April, among which a large number of women and girls. The growing trend and tactics being deployed by the armed groups, including abduction and torture, is extremely worrying. Also worrying are reported cases of reprisals and illegal detention by the Government, including the illegal detention of a Russian journalist for a long time in an unknown place, as well as anti-Russia hate speech on social media and the targeting of Russian-owned banks and businesses.

All these serious human rights violations must be thoroughly investigated and those responsible must be held accountable. We urge the Human Rights Monitoring Mission and the National Preventive Mechanism to redouble their efforts in ensuring that human rights are upheld and respected.

Mr. President,

In regards to the crash of Malaysia Flight MH17, Rwanda remains deeply concerned that the ongoing investigation is hindered by the fighting around the crash site. It is imperative that the utmost security is guaranteed for the international investigators to carry out their mandate. Let’s not forget that families are still grieving for their loved ones. We owe them respect and the dignity they deserve. The remains of those killed must be immediately returned for proper burial and the consequences of the plane crash must be determined with a sense of urgency.

Finally, Mr. President, let me reiterate our call for the need to respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. In this regard, we call on all parties to respect the ceasefire, de-escalate the situation and engage in an open political dialogue to find a lasting solution for the crisis, based on President Poroshenko’s Peace Plan. We do not want to find ourselves with another long lasting crisis, adding to many others already on the agenda of the Council. We urge all members to consider the lives of Ukrainians and use any influence they may have to encourage political dialogue. Failure should not be our default option, as it would continue to undermine the credibility of this institution.

I thank you.

Remarks by Minister of State in Charge of Cooperation, Eugene-Richard Gasana, at the UN Security Council debate on MONUSCO

Your Excellency Mr. Mark Simmonds, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, and President of the Security Council;

Honorable Ministers;

Excellencies and Distinguished Delegates;

Let me begin by thanking you, Mr. President, and the entire UK delegation for convening this important debate on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes Region. I would also like to thank Hon. João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, Minister of Defence of Angola and Chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), as well as Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary General to DRC, and Mary Robinson, Special Envoy of the Secretary General to the Great Lakes Region, for their respective briefings. Allow me also to acknowledge the Foreign Affairs Minister of DRC, His Excellency Tshibanda N’Tungamulongo, the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans of South South Africa, Her Excellency Ms. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Ngakula and Uganda Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Henry Oryem Okello.  I would like to take this opportunity to commend Ms. Mary Robinson for her dedication to peace and security in the Great Lakes Region for the past sixteen (16) months and beyond actually over a decade, when she was high commission for Human Rights in Geneva. Thank you for your dedication to peace in the region.

I would also wish to pay tribute to H.E Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, President of the Republic of Angola and Chair of the ICGLR for his wisdom and commitment for peace and security in Eastern DRC.

Mr. President,

Rwanda was pleased to see that MONUSCO has achieved some progress on important fronts, as outlined in the Secretary General’s report, including working towards ending gross human rights violations and consolidating state authority in Eastern DRC. The setting of a timeframe for the organization of local elections; the government’s increasing presence in areas cleared of armed groups, including in the islands of stability supported by MONUSCO; military operations against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF-Nalu) – these are all positive and encouraging developments.

However, there is still much to be done, as we have heard with the reports of haltingly slow security sector reform; the horrific crimes against civilians that continue to be carried out by armed groups in Eastern DRC; and the pervasive impunity that accompanies these crimes. It is true that MONUSCO is on the ground protecting civilians, but we shall not forget that the primary responsibility in protecting the Congolese people lies with the Government, which should redouble its efforts in implementing and enforcing accountability and justice mechanisms.

Mr. President,

There is another area of extreme importance, which unfortunately has not seen progress: the neutralization of the 1994 Genocidal Movement, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). This is one of the oldest armed groups in eastern DRC, which settled in that area after committing the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Despite its claims of readiness to disarm, the FDLR continues to recruit and train combatants, including children. The genocidal organization, FDLR, voluntary disarmament is the latest among many distractions that have stood in the way of a solution to the FDLR problem for two decades. Genuine disarmament and surrenders have been happening under political and military pressure for many years.

As stated by Special Representative, Martin Kobler, more than 11,000 former FDLR have been successfully repatriated since 2002, through the Mutobo Demobilization Center, which this Council visited in October last year. Most of the surrendered, including top commanders have peacefully reintegrated society.

I thank SRSG Kobler for sharing the statistics of FDLR repatriation since 2002, most of whom repatriated by the pressure of the joint FARDC-RDF military operations of 2009 codenamed UMOJA-WETU. It would have been good in order to have a full picture of the situation, if this graph was accompanied by statistics of FDLR recruitment and atrocities committed since 2002. Then we would better understand the urgency of the matter. But even with these statistics, it is clear that military pressure seems to be the only viable option that can force the genocidaires to repatriate.

There is a tendency to create a false dichotomy between military operations against the FDLR and ”voluntary surrender”. Yet this is not an ”either or” situation. On the contrary, the two actually contribute to each other. The main reason more than 10,000 ex-FDLR disarmed and returned voluntarily to Rwanda over the last 10 years is that political and military pressure – or the credible threat thereof- consistently triggered mass surrenders of demotivated genocidal FDLR combatants. On the other hand, the example set by successful repatriation and reintegration within Rwandan society presented a strong incentive for further surrenders.

Therefore, by entertaining the genocidal forces FDLR’s diversionary maneuvers that are neither new nor credible, regional international actors are further complicating and prolonging a conflict for which the region has already paid a tragic cost. Even more disturbing is the fact that such attitude might be setting the stage for further conflicts in the region, as some actors driven by hidden agendas, may take advantage of the FDLR presence to pursue their own negative goals.

Mr. President,

Rwanda knows firsthand what it takes to build a nation from the ashes. We know that focus should be given to national reforms, the reintegration of former rebels, neutralizing remaining groups and the establishment of state authority. That is why we are committed to carrying out all tasks required of us per the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement, in order to ensure that the region is moving towards peace and stability throughout its borders.

From 18th to 20th July 2014, a delegation from the DRC Government assisted by officials from Monusco, the ICGLR and the Office of the Special Envoy carried out the registration and initiation of the amnesty process for ex-M23 elements interned in Rwanda. 453 ex-combatants, including all their former leaders, were registered and filled their application forms. The process generated some positive expectations on the part of the ex-combatants. Some of the junior members who were not present during the exercise have expressed interest in joining the process. Signatories to the Framework Agreement and other should ensure that reasonable incentives are put in place and maintained for the ex-combatants to remain committed to the implementation process.

As an active member of the ICGLR, a committed signatory to the Framework Agreement, and a Government that has been carrying a heavy burden by receiving, disarming, moving away from the border and managing ex-M23 combatants without any international support; we are determined to support the implementation of the Kampala Dialogue Declarations and have requested that its application be extended to include ex-FARDC General Laurent Nkunda.

Mr. President,

We firmly believe that the International Community should engage with signatories in genuine collaborative terms. They should build on regional initiatives to achieve sustainable peace by addressing the root causes of crises in the Great Lakes Region. Chief among these causes, the two-decade active presence of the FDLR in the eastern DRC. The harmonization and synchronization of international and regional efforts is paramount to avoid that progress achieved be diluted or reversed. For example, the implementation of concrete resolutions agreed upon unanimously during the ICGLR summit in Luanda in March this year, was unfortunately diverted by unrelated agendas some of which only serve to worsen existing problems. The International Community, through its Special Envoys or other channels, should make greater use of Good Offices to ensure that key actors in the region continue to work in the spirit of confidence building, ownership and accountability.

I would conclude, Mr. President, by warmly welcoming Ambassador Said Djinnit, new Special Envoy of the Secretary General to the Great Lakes. I have no doubt that his expertise and extensive experience has prepared him for the job. We have high hopes for the new team and we look forward to working with them, so that we may see all of our efforts bear fruit for the benefit of the Congolese people and government and for all the peoples of the Region.

I thank you.


Remarks by Deputy Permanent Representative, Olivier Nduhungirehe, at the UN Security Council meeting on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine

Mr. President,

Thank you for convening this emergency meeting on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. Let me also thank John Ging, Director for the Coordination on response Division at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), for his briefing.

The humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine, especially in the Luhansk and Donetsk Regions, has fast deteriorated over the last weeks. The violence continues to put the lives of Ukrainians in grave danger, particularly for women and children. 3.9 millions people live in areas affected by violence, a number of them deprived of basic services, including water, electricity and health services. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, reported that 117,000 persons have been displaced inside Ukraine, and that a total of 740,000 people have crossed into the Russian Federation since the beginning of the year. Some are displaced because of fear of persecution for political views, ethnicity and forcible recruitment in eastern Ukraine, but the large majority are Ukrainians caught in crossfire, fearing for their own security and seeking a safe location.

We commend UN agencies and other humanitarian actors for their work on the ground and we support UNHCR’s call for the establishment, by the Ukrainian Government, of a central registration system of internally displaced people.

Meanwhile, Rwanda is concerned at the continued fighting around the crash site of Malaysia flight MH17 preventing international investigators to do their work. This continued violation of resolution 2166 cannot be tolerated, particularly as we know that some family members have not been able to receive the remains of their loved ones. We renew our call to all parties, as they committed themselves on 31st of July, to allow unhindered access in and around the sites for the investigators to safely perform their duties in an expedited manner.

Mr. President,

Given this context, we believe that it is unfortunate that this Council continues to be deeply divided on the crisis in Ukraine. The risk of a full blown war lingers on, as long as there is division among us, Council members. Also, the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine, although it has not reached the level of that of Syria and Gaza, should be a wakeup call for this Council and for all stakeholders to redouble their efforts and take meaningful action towards a sustainable solution to the crisis.

It is true that the volatility of the situation on the ground continues to hinder political and diplomatic efforts to finding a sustainable solution to the Ukrainian crisis. And we take this opportunity to thank the secretary General for his continued efforts for a peaceful settlement of this conflict.

In this respect, we reiterate our support to President Poroshenko’s Peace Plan, which should be the basis for a long-term solution to this crisis. We also appreciate the initiatives of the Trilateral Contact Group of senior representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as to the commitments contained in the Joint Declaration in Berlin on 2 July 2014 of Foreign Affairs Ministers of Germany, France, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Mr. President,

Let me reiterate our call for the respect of the independence, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. In this respect, we urge all armed groups in eastern Ukraine to disarm and adhere to a ceasefire in efforts of the de-escalation of the situation. We believe that the Government of Ukraine has a right to restore public order on its territory, provided that this right is exercised in a proportional manner, with a view to preserve chance for a genuine and inclusive dialogue between all Ukrainians.

To conclude, Mr. President, Rwanda notes that the Security Council is today considering the humanitarian situation in the country; and that in two days, the Council will hold another meeting on Ukraine, focusing on the human rights situation. We believe in this regard that this piecemeal approach in considering different aspects of a particular crisis is not helpful, as all of them are interconnected. Consequently, Rwanda suggests holding a monthly meeting of the Security Council on Ukraine, which would enable us to remain seized on this matter, while considering the Ukrainian crisis in all its aspects.

I thank you.