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Statement by Minister of State in Charge of Cooperation, Eugene-Richard Gasana, at the Security Council, introducing the Security Council Annual Report

Madam President,

I thank you for convening this meeting to consider the draft annual report of the Security Council A/69/2, covering the period 1August 2013 to 31 July 2014, and for giving Rwanda the floor, as a delegation that coordinated the documentation of the Council’s business in the reporting period.

The process towards a consensus on this draft is one that is representative of how productive the Council could be if its members were willing to always work towards a common interest. This has been the expectation of UN member states, when they mandated this organ to deal with the maintenance of international peace and security – a united, hence effective Council. It is on that note that I would like to express our gratitude to all Council members for their valuable collaboration in the process of drawing up the draft report. As it has been confirmed by the Secretariat, this report is recorded as one of the substantive Security Council reports agreed on in a shortest period.

As stated in the introduction of the draft report, the Council held, during the reporting period, 238 formal meetings, of which 218 were public. The Council adopted 55 resolutions and 26 presidential statements, while issuing 113 statements to the press. During the same period, the Security Council conducted two missions in the field, one to Africa – in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia – in October 2013, and another to Mali, in February 2014. In Ethiopia, the Security Council held, on 8 October 2013, one of its two annual consultative meetings with the African Union Peace and Security Council that took place during the reporting period; and the second meeting was held in New York on 7 June 2014.

Madam President,

As it was the case over the past years, most of Council’s activities and efforts were on Africa. The continent registered some progress; in Sierra Leone, where the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) was successfully completed; in Somalia, where the National Army, supported by the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) continued to make substantive territorial gains against Al Shabaab; in Guinea Bissau, where the constitutional order was restored, albeit fragile; or in DRC, where a Force Intervention Brigade was deployed, pursuant to resolution 2098 (2013), to neutralize all armed groups. This led to the defeat of the Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23) in November 2013, which ended its rebellion through the Kampala Process and the Nairobi Declarations. However, the Security Council continued to follow closely the situation in the DRC, where a number of other armed groups, including the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and the Alliance Democratic Force (ADF), which remain active in the eastern part of the country.

Nonetheless, despite the aforementioned progress in Africa, the Security Council had to deal, during the reporting period, with the outbreak of conflicts in Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan and Libya, which led to widespread human rights and humanitarian consequences. It’s in this context that the Security Council reinforced the mandate of protection of civilians of the United Nations Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS), through the adoption of resolution 2155 (2014), and decided to establish the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), created by through resolution 2149 (2014) and deployed on 15 September 2014 to replace the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA). On CAR, the Council also adopted resolution 2127 (2013) establishing a Committee mandated to oversee an arms embargo, a travel ban and an asset freeze imposed pursuant to the same resolution.

Madam President,

The situation in the Middle East was also prominent in the Council’s agenda, following the eruption of the conflicts in Gaza and in Iraq, as well as the worsening security situation in the Syrian Arab Republic and in Yemen. On Syria, the Council adopted three resolutions: resolution 2118 (2013), related to the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program and resolutions 2139 (2014) and 2165 (2014) related to the humanitarian situation in the country. On Yemen, Council adopted resolution 2140 establishing a Sanctions Committee mandated to oversee a travel ban and an asset freeze imposed to Yemen pursuant to the same resolution.

In Europe, the Security Council continued to follow the situations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus and Kosovo, which remained generally calm and stable. However, in February 2014, the Council was seized with the conflict in Ukraine, which further escalated on 17 July 2014, with the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Donetsk Oblast, resulting in the loss of 298 lives. In that regard, the Security Council adopted resolution 2166 (2014) to condemn, in the strongest terms, this tragic incident; to demand a full, thorough and independent international investigation, and to stress that those responsible should be held accountable.

As for Asia and the Americas, the Council continued to monitor the situations in Afghanistan and in Haiti; and adopted relevant resolutions to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) and that of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

Madam President,

Turning to thematic, general and cross-cutting issues, the Council continued to hold regular open debates and other public meetings on human rights-related issues such as the protection of civilians in armed conflict, children and armed conflict and women and peace and security; on security-related issues such as non-proliferation and peacekeeping; on post-conflict-related issues such as peacebuilding, security sector reform and the rule of law; and on working methods, including through the wrap-up sessions. At the same time, the Security Council debated specific issues, such as prevention of genocide (on the occasion of the 20th commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda); Medal of Honor for Captain Mbaye Diagne (a UNAMIR peacekeeper in Rwanda who saved hundreds of people during the genocide); small arms; and war, its lessons and the search for permanent peace.

During the reporting period, accountability for the most serious crimes was a permanent concern for the Security Council, through various country-specific debates and products; through meetings to discuss the work of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, and through meetings to consider reports of the Prosecutor General of the International Criminal Court (ICC), in accordance with relevant resolutions concerning the situation in Sudan and in Libya. Unfortunately, during the reporting period, Council members could not agree on two draft resolutions on the work of the ICC, in relation to the situations in Kenya and in Syria, respectively.

Madam President,

It is our hope that the important records of the Council’s business contained in this report will continue to be a guide to Council members, to the larger UN membership, to the UN secretariat and to all actors serving the international community in the maintenance of international peace and security. Nonetheless, I do hope that for the future, the Security Council should consider how to improve its annual reports by assessing its effectiveness in the reporting period, with concrete recommendations on how to act better and faster while maintaining international peace and security.

To conclude, Madam President, allow me to express our satisfaction for this opportunity for Rwanda to document the Council’s work. A particular thank to my Security Council Team, at the Rwanda Mission, which worked hard to put together this draft report, with the invaluable support and contribution to all Council members, to whom we extend our appreciation. We also express our gratitude to the Secretary-General and senior officers of his administration, for their usual availability to brief us, sometimes on a very short notice; and we recognize the invaluable support of members of the Security Council Affairs Division (SCAD), mainly for the advice they accorded to us throughout this drafting process, for the substantive contribution to this draft report, including on Council statistics; and for ably servicing the meetings that are the basis of this draft report.

I thank you.

Statement by Minister of State in Charge of Cooperation, Eugene-Richard Gasana, at the UN Security Council open debate on the Middle East, including the Palestine question

Thank you Madam President,

Let me start by expressing my appreciation to Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General, for his comprehensive briefing on the recent developments in the Middle East. I also thank Ambassador Ryad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the Observer State of Palestine, and the Representative of Israel, for their respective remarks.

The general situation in the Middle East remains delicate and capricious. The current status in many parts of the region is not sustainable, as it may lead to a spiral of violence, terrorism and destruction across the Middle East. Parties and belligerents should therefore understand that there could be no military solution anywhere in the region; they should rather make serious commitment to seek or resume political talks, in order to find peaceful solutions to all contentious issues within or between countries of the region.

Madam President,

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is important for the leadership in Tel Aviv and Ramallah, with the support of key stakeholders such as the United States, the Quartet and the League of Arab States, to keep the momentum on the talks, aimed at achieving a two-State solution for two peoples, living side by side in peace and security. Parties should make additional efforts to resume direct and genuine negotiations, while refraining from all provocative actions that would derail the current process. In this respect, Rwanda believes that the sustainable solution to the outstanding issues must be negotiated in good faith, and that any unilateral action may further complicate the current situation.

On Gaza, the humanitarian situation remains a cause for concern. Rwanda welcomes the outcome of the Cairo Donor Conference for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, held on 12 October. We commend the Governments of Norway and Egypt for successfully co-hosting this conference, which achieved even more than expected. We hope that pledges made in Cairo will soon be materialized and have a concrete impact on the ground. And we take this opportunity to call on other donors and international partners to join this international effort to rebuild Gaza.

In the same vein, we welcome the recent Trilateral Agreement between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the UN to enable them to work at the scale required in the Strip, involving the private sector in Gaza, and giving a leading role to the Palestinian Authority in the reconstruction effort, with the hope that the construction materials will not be diverted from their civilian purpose. Furthermore, we call upon parties to continue to uphold their commitments from the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire on Gaza, agreed upon in August this year. We believe that a sustained implementation of these commitments will allow the restoration of people’s livelihoods in Gaza but even more importantly, will provide the required trust and political environment to reach a larger and sustainable solution to the Palestinian question.

Madam President,

Regarding Syria, it is unfortunate that military confrontation continues to escalate dangerously, and that the three-year-and-a-half conflict has claimed lives of over 190,000 people, with 10.8 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. As we look forward to the briefing by Special Envoy Staffan De Mistura to this Council, focusing on possible avenues to end the conflict in Syria, we reiterate our call to all the concerned parties to resume the Geneva II peace talks, which is the only way possible to end this political crisis, with its dramatic security, human rights and humanitarian consequences.

However, it is clear that political talks should never be envisaged with terrorist and/or genocidal forces. In this context, Rwanda reiterates its firm support to the ongoing fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), which commit mass atrocities against civilians, behead journalists and humanitarian workers and persecute religious minorities, including Christians and Yazidis. We believe that it is important that the Security Council, which has always been unanimous in its fight against terrorism, more recently in Resolution 2170 (2014) and Resolution 2178 should support the coalition led by the Unites States, aimed at degrading and ultimately defeating ISIL. And as we speak, the fight to save the population of the Syrian town of Kobane from a barbaric extermination should be our reaffirmation of our collective Responsibility to Protect.

Madam President,

The situation in Lebanon remained severely affected by the conflict in Syria, with cross border shelling, arms smuggling and further influxes of refugees. The involvement of different Lebanese armed groups in the Syrian conflict, violating the Lebanese Government’s dissociation policy, has raised tensions leading to sectarian violence, mainly along the Lebanese-Syrian border areas, which claimed civilian lives and kidnappings of members Lebanese Armed Forces. We commend the Lebanese Armed Forces for containing threats to the country’s security and stability, and we reiterate our call to all parties in Lebanon to continue upholding the Baabda Declaration and its disassociation policy. In the same vein, Rwanda also welcomes the announcement of new assistance to the Lebanese Army and encouraged further assistance in priority areas.

However, Rwanda expresses its concern over the prolonged vacancy in the presidency for over four months now, which increases the country’s vulnerability in facing mounting security, economic and humanitarian challenges. We express our appreciation to the efforts of Prime Minister Salam and his Government in ensuring the stability in the country. And we hope that parties in Lebanon, with the support of regional countries, will overcome their differences and put an end to this constitutional gridlock.

To conclude, Madame President, I would wish to recall that for all conflicts and crises in the Middle East, the genuine resolve and unwavering support of those who have real influence on parties are prerequisites for any progress or breakthrough. It is therefore critical that regional and world’s powers remain committed and coordinated to ensure lasting peace in the Middle-East.

I thank you.

Statement delivered by the Deputy Permanent Representative , Ms Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, on the Scope and Application of the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction

Mr. Chairman,

 Let me start by congratulating you, as well as members of the bureau, for your election to spearhead the work of the 6th Committee.

I would also like to state, at the outset, that my delegation aligns itself with the statements delivered by South Africa (on behalf of the African Group), and by the Islamic Republic of Iran (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement). I will only add a few comments on my national capacity.

Mr. Chairman,

Rwanda recognizes that universal jurisdiction is a principle of International Law whose purpose is to ensure that individuals who commit heinous crimes such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity do not enjoy impunity anywhere in the World and are brought to justice.

In this respect, Rwanda commends UN member States that extradited or prosecuted people perpetrators of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. However, we regret that a number of genocide fugitives are still enjoying safe haven in UN member States, including nine key genocide fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Court for Rwanda (ICTR).

We take this opportunity to remind the key provision of Security Council resolution 2150 which urges UN member States “to cooperate with the ICTR, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals and the Government of Rwanda in the arrest and prosecution of the remaining nine ICTR-indicted fugitives, and further calls upon States to investigate, arrest, prosecute or extradite, in accordance with applicable international obligations, all other fugitives accused of genocide residing on their territories, including those who are FDLR leaders”.

Therefore, Rwanda supports the appropriate use of the principle of universal jurisdiction, in good faith. What we strongly reject is the abuse and misuse of indictments by non-African Judges against African leaders, which has a destabilizing effect that will adversely impact on the political, social and economic development of States and the ability of indicted leaders to conduct international relations.

Rwanda believes that such an abuse of the principle of universal jurisdiction is a pure violation of key principles of international law, notably the principle of equality of States and the immunity of Heads of States and other high ranking State Officials.

Indictments issued by European judges against officials of African states have the effect of subjecting the latter to the jurisdiction of European states, contrary to the sovereign equality and independence of states. This brings back to the fore memories of colonialism that are still fresh in the minds.

Furthermore, Indictments issued against foreign state officials exercising representative functions on behalf of their states by low-level judges, often sitting alone, tend to undermine the dignity of the state officials concerned and put at risk friendly relations between sovereign states.

Rwanda is of the view that the abuse of the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction is a development that could endanger International law, order and security. It could set a bad precedent if, all countries victims of abusive international warrants, resorted to the principle of reciprocity in order to defend themselves!

Rwanda strongly supports the request for withdrawal by the African Heads of States and Government of the warrants of arrest issued on the basis of abuse of universal jurisdiction.

Rwanda also supports ongoing discussions inside the General Assembly’s 6th Committee aiming at adopting a new framework that would prevent the application of universal jurisdiction in an arbitrary or politically motivated manner. Our wish is to see this process conducted effectively and objectively.

I thank you Mr. Chairman

Statement delivered by the Deputy Permanent Representative, Ms Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, at the opening Session of the Second Committee (8 October)

Mr. Chairman,

I wish at the outset to join others in congratulating you on your assumption of the chairmanship of the Second Committee and to commend you for the able way you are conducting these proceedings.  I also take this opportunity to extend the same to the members of the Bureau and to thank your predecessor, Ambassador Adbou Salam Diallo of Senegal for a job well done.

Rwanda aligns itself with the statements delivered by Bolivia, Malawi and Benin on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, the African Group and the LDCs respectively.

Mr. Chairman,

On the threshold of the resumed work of the 2nd Committee, we are meeting at a crossroads with an unfinished MDGs business overlapping in the post 2015 development agenda.  Nevertheless, the world should be determined more than ever to tackle the root causes of poverty as its eradication remains the overarching goal for the Post 2015 Development agenda.

Our efforts should be redoubled to confront new challenges that are emerging such as the outbreak of Ebola, food shortage, climate change, terrorism, etc as they can reverse our gains.  Therefore, Rwanda is committed to meet its MDGs targets and set its priorities to address the gaps and challenges towards achieving global sustained economic growth and financial stability for the post 2015 development agenda.

In our global quest for poverty eradication, every nation should strive to reduce inequality by making sure that no one is left behind; especially the most vulnerable. To tackle that in a more sustainable way, we need to invest in our people by putting in place a well-developed social protection system geared at improving their wellbeing in the following prioritized areas;

First, by empowering each of our citizens with equitable quality education and lifelong learning to improve employability and job creation; second, by ensuring healthy lives, food security and good nutrition; third, by empowering women and youth; fourth, by achieving universal access to water and sanitation and fifth, by providing the people with basic economic opportunities.

In so doing, the three pillars of sustainable development should remain at the core as we are more and more aware of the urgent action that needs to be taken to halt the alarming pace of climate change and environmental degradation, which pose unprecedented threats to humanity. In this regard, we call on developed countries to respect the principle of CBDR and play a special role in fostering new technologies and in reducing unsustainable consumption as well as in providing both technical and financial assistance to developing countries to allow them to transition accordingly.

As rapid urbanization is continuously becoming the world’s engine for business and innovation and recognizing the invaluable asset of human capital, especially the role played by youth and women in effecting a profound economic transformation to end extreme poverty and improve livelihoods, an urgent call to action is needed to create more value and drive sustainable and inclusive growth.  In order to create decent jobs, other value-added activities to enable competitive economies lie in harnessing innovation, science and technology (STI), and in the potential of private business, as well as in all enablers and tools of sustainable development such as ICTs.

Achieving sustainable development to enable people to lead a dignified life will also call for striving to insure peace and security. It is imperative that each state incorporates its own strategy of addressing challenges affecting the wellbeing of the people. In ensuring peace and security, regional involvement in the policy formulation and capacity building is needed to address the root causes of conflicts. Finally, the international Community has also a role to play in preventing and ending conflicts.

Sustainable gains can only be made if nations take ownership in shaping their destiny taking into account their national identity.  In Rwanda, we learned firsthand from our tragic encounters that peace prevailed when we managed to restore social cohesion, rebuild all institutions, reestablish rule of law and the justice system as well as when our people reaped the benefits of a more sustained economic growth.  More importantly, effecting good and inclusive governance as core elements of wellbeing was also essential in meeting the people’s expectations and in responding to their specific needs. Indeed, good accountable systems and the engagement of the civil society played a key role in ensuring good governance.

Finally, the post 2015 development agenda cannot be achieved without adequate means of implementation. In order to consolidate our gains and become resilient to external shocks, there ought to be an enhanced international cooperation based on a renewed global partnership for sustainable development that will require all countries to work and learn in tandem to achieve our shared prosperity. All the enabling environment and global governance needed to promote financing for sustainable development should therefore be strengthened. In addition, catalyzing public-private platforms and mobilizing domestic funds will be essential to meet the cost of sustainable development.

Mr. President,

In closing, we call on all member states to contribute to the final push in order to expedite the unfinished MDGs business before the 2015 deadline and enable us to tackle the new development agenda on an equal footing. Strong cooperation from all multi-stakeholders is also needed to help developing countries to launch big projects of infrastructure and sustainable energy for all that will boost up their economies and ensure sustained inclusive growth.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman!

Statement by Minister of State in Charge of Cooperation, Eugene-Richard Gasana, at the UN Security Council briefing on UN Peacekeeping operations

Madam President,

I would like to thank our Force Commanders; General Bosco Kazura of MINUSMA, General Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz of MONUSCO, and General Iqbal Singha of UNDOF for their respective briefings. I also thank General Ahmed Maqsood, Military Adviser, for his remarks.

For the past five years, the Security Council has been organizing this annual meeting with Force Commanders, which we find very useful. Given the challenging peacekeeping environment that a number of our missions are currently operating under, these meetings provide an opportunity for us to gain a better understanding of the perspective from the field, particularly on operational issues. We, as the Council, have a huge responsibility in ensuring that the mandates we authorize set clear tasks for the missions and their leadership, including timing and design.

As H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, said two weeks ago at the High-level Summit on peacekeeping operations, Rwanda believes that “nothing matters more than saving innocent lives when they are at stake”. It is first and foremost a host country’s responsibility to protect its own civilians, but unfortunately that does not always happen. And this is where UN peacekeeping missions have to intervene, when required, to make difference on the ground. This is also part of our responsibility to protect.

As new threats emerge and peacekeeping tasks transform, peacekeepers should be trained, prepared and equipped to use force to protect the lives of innocent civilians and their own lives. Contingents that do not fulfil these requirements should not be deployed in peacekeeping missions, as they would put civilian lives at risk, as well as their own.  At the very least, we must be conducting proactive, long-range patrols; and Missions must be equipped to do this the moment boots are on the ground. When civilians are brutally attacked just kilometers away from a UN camp, UN peacekeeping operations rightfully lose credibility on the ground, undermining our work around the world.

This applies to what General Bosco Kazura briefed on as well – expectations from military contingents under a challenging security environment. In Mali, our peacekeepers are dealing with asymmetric threats that completely transcend traditional tasks and requirements. An increasing number of peacekeepers were killed in Mali over the past weeks, among which the Chadian contingent that paid the heaviest price. In fact, this past Tuesday, a Senegalese peacekeeper was killed, following nine peacekeepers from Niger who were killed last Friday in an ambush in Gao, which is one of the deadliest attacks against peacekeepers in Mali. I want to renew the deepest condolences to the families of the peacekeepers, and to their respective Governments. These brave souls paid the noblest sacrifice and it is a reminder that we are not adequately equipped or prepared to confront the challenges of transnational terrorism and the presence of jihadist groups in Mali.

On this, I have questions for General Maqsood and General Kazura. Peacekeeping involves risk taking and loss of human lives, but not to the extent we have been observing in Mali. We also know and acknowledge failures during the establishment and re-hatting of the Mission, but again this cannot continue to be an excuse after nearly sixteen (16) months. What, in concrete terms, can be done to address this alarming situation?

Related to that, we all know that MINUSMA is a peacekeeping mission that is not mandated to carry out offensive operations although, just to make myself clear, this shouldn’t prevent the mission from protecting itself and defending the mandate. This Council has last year mandated the French Forces of the Opération Serval currently Barkhane to support peacekeepers whenever operations are beyond their mandate and capability, particularly in relation to counterterrorism activities. As stated by the Foreign Minister of Mali yesterday, unfortunately, as of now, armed groups continue to gain and occupy new territorial positions, setting up parallel administration, against the letter and the spirit of Security Council resolutions 2100 and 2164 and that of relevant political and ceasefire agreements in Mali.

The reaction of this Council to this blatant violation to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a secular Republic of Mali seems to be weak and ineffective. While the world’s eyes and efforts are turned to the necessary fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, we should not loose sight of the growing threat of terrorism on the African continent and of the serious risk of radical and terrorist groups within Mali linking with similar organizations such as Boko Haram and Al Shabaab; hence paralyzing the entire region. Gen Maqsood, is the situation I just described in Mali going beyond Operation Serval’s control considering the mandate given by this Council? What in your view, General Kazura, needs to be corrected or improved, before the situation gets out of hand?

In this context, there are additional assets such as All Sources Information Fusion Unit (ASIFU) and drones, which were deployed to help in intelligence gathering, and we would wish to hear from the MINUSMA Force Commander to what extent these assets are being utilized and if they are useful.

As Rwanda has said before, while the political dimension of this conflict should not be underplayed, a more robust mandate for a reconfigured mission is essential for the safety and security of our peacekeepers and for operational efficacy. This Council needs to have a serious discussion on what this reconfiguration would entail and would look like. We need to change how we do business because we are not doing business in the same markets any longer. We can’t avoid this debate and we believe that no national interest of any Council members could be pursued at the expense of the security and safety of the affected populations.

Before I conclude, I wonder if General Santos Cruz could speak on the recent reports that more than 100 demobilized fighters and their families, including women and children, died from starvation and disease in a military camp in DRC. Do you think that this could affect the planned operations of DDR and DDRRR? How can we prevent such inhumane treatment of those who surrender?

I thank you.