News

Statement by Minister of State in Charge of Cooperation, Eugene-Richard Gasana, at the UN Security Council open debate on protection of civilians

I would like to join others in thanking you, Honorable Minister, and your delegation, for organizing this important debate.

I would also like to express my appreciation to Deputy Secretary-General Jan Elliasson for his briefing, which reaffirms his unwavering commitment to the protection of civilians’ agenda, especially in promoting a culture of prevention.

Additionally, I would like to recognize Ms. Christine Beerli, Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Ms. Eveline Rooijimans, Oxfam senior Humanitarian policy advisor for being here with us today and for their work, despite the challenges and the risks involved.

Mr. President,

Our history has informed our resolve to advocate for and contribute where possible to protection of all lives of civilians entangled in today’s armed conflicts. One life lost is one too many. We can all agree on this point. We believe you also hold this conviction in Uruguay being one of the first signatories of the Kigali Principles.

Mr. President,

May I start by sharing how I view the protection of civilians (POC) mandate is understood among the international community. Some troop and police contributors believe they are deployed to protect by presence, an idea that suggests a more static approach to POC.  Other troop and police contributors adhere to a more proactive approach to POC, by implementing a robust approach to the execution of the mandate.

These differing views on the POC mandate are however not new. Since the creation of the UN, 71 years ago, the UN Security Council has adopted a number of resolutions and strategies to protect civilians in armed conflict, including the landmark resolution 1265 of 1999. However, in 1994, more than a million were killed during the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. This is one of the darkest moments in the history of modern humankind and peacekeeping.

Today, more than 20 years since the Genocide against the Tutsi, we keep asking ourselves why the UN did little to nothing to protect Rwandans. Why did the international community not step in and prevent the fastest Genocide of the 21st Century? To this day, we still have no clear answer. In my own region, the Great Lakes region, we have for instance a peacekeeping mission that is supposed to provide protection to civilians entangled in armed conflict, but we have seen time and again, its struggle to deliver on that crucial promise to protect., Despite the presence of the largest peacekeeping force, MONUSCO and Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) that are equipped with all types of equipment and enablers, we are still facing roaming predators against civilians, mainly the so-called Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

While we understand that the responsibility to protect civilians lies primarily with the host country, our main source of frustration today is the continued inability of the international community, in a timely manner, to rapidly respond to conflicts that may turn violent, which could effectively protect civilians.

Mr. President,

I would like to now take the time to touch upon some challenges we believe significantly impact the implementation of the POC mandates in today’s peacekeeping missions. First, we are still divided over what the ‘use of force’ entails and this is worrisome considering the thousands of peacekeepers entrusted with saving the lives of civilians throughout the world. We need to clearly and thoroughly confirm what it entails, particularly when the threat to civilians may arise from groups that claim to be affiliated with the host government. We seek a common mindset.

Second, we must achieve sound and effective rapid deployment. Even if we are to obtain the necessary number of troops, the required COE, and more, none of it matters if we cannot rapidly deploy. As the report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) noted, “Truly rapid and effective deployment capacities will always come at a cost, and yet a more reliable system for responding quickly to save lives and arrest emerging conflicts can potentially avoid a larger, more costly response later.”

Third, we must avoid template approaches that constrain POC mandates and their respective peacekeeping mission. Now is the time for us, the international community, to act boldly, strategically and flexibly. Applying tailored approaches means assessing the situation on the ground, the capabilities needed to properly protect civilians, and, as highlighted by the HIPPO panel, “build upon existing sources of resilience and local protection.” Template mandates and missions must be left in the past.

Fourth, while a lot has been done by troop and police contributing countries and the UN to improve the protection of civilians, the increasing violence against civilians has tested the fundamental principles and capabilities of our operations and demonstrated that much remains to be done. Our experience on the ground has proven that peacekeeping operations are ill-prepared, with no adequate means to address large-scale violence directed against civilians, will falter and may even collapse.

Fifth, we must understand the root causes of the conflicts that lie before us so that we can thoroughly protect civilians. This understanding will in return allow us to understand the how’s and why’s of attacks on civilians, which as HIPPO denoted, it allows for the identification of proper responses to threats against civilians.

Lastly, there often exists a gap between the expectations surrounding civilian protection and the actual capabilities possessed by peacekeepers. Both must be considered in mandate design.  We believe that threats to civilians and their solutions should inform mission mandates, strategies, structures, and resources allocation, as set out in the benchmarks outlined in the Kigali Principles on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.

As you will recall, these principles were the outcome of the High Level International Conference that we hosted in May last year; and as the concept note rightly puts it, the benchmarks set out in these Kigali Principles  offer pro-active practical ways  that could lead to addressing current challenges in implementing protection of Civilians mandates.

We thank member states that have endorsed these principles since the early stage, including Uruguay; and encourage others to join us in that endeavor. In collaboration with the United Nations, Regional and Sub-regional organizations, and other member states, we hope to streamline those principles into the core of PoC agenda. This will assist in overcoming the challenges we face to POC and the implementation of its mandate.

In the coming months, we will co-host an international conference with the U.S. AFRICOM and the Netherlands that will serve as a follow up to the POC conference held in Kigali last year. We look forward to your participation.

Mr. President,

Allow me to also emphasize the role of regional and sub-regional organizations; which we believe could enhance implementation of protection of civilians’ mandates due to their cultural and regional proximity, local knowledge of conflict dynamics, as well as their ability to deploy quickly. It is my hope that this body will continue to maximize the use of their comparative advantages; involving them throughout the process of Missions deployment, including consultations on mandates design.

Mr. President,

In closing, may I share the following words by H.E. President Paul Kagame, “We cannot turn the clock back nor can we undo the harm caused, but we have the power to determine the future and to ensure that what happened never happens again.”

I thank you.

Referendum to review the 2003 Constitution of Rwanda to take place on 17 December in the Diaspora

86ad967208New York,  15 December: A referendum to review the 2003 Rwandan  Constitution will take place on Thursday, 17 December for Rwandans in the Diaspora and Friday, 18 December in Rwanda.

In this context, the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the UN has been selected as one the polling stations in the United States and will be open from 9 am to 8 pm to allow members of the Rwandan community in NY/NJ/CT to take part in the voting process.

 

 

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative, Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, at the UN Security Council statement on ICTR/ICTY

Thank you Mr. President, for inviting Rwanda to be part of this debate.

 

Mr. President, At the outset, let me thank Judge Carmel Agius, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Judge Vagn Joensen, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, (ICTR),  Judge Theodore Meron, President of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT); Mr. Hassan Bubacar Jallow, Prosecutor of the ICTR and the MICT, and Mr. Serge Brammetz, Prosecutor of the ICTY, as well as other previous speakers for their respective briefings and statements.

 

Before delving into the topic of today’s debate, allow me to preface my remarks with a reference to the celebration of the Human Rights Day that we will be marking tomorrow as well as to the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of Genocide and the Prevention of this crime that we are commemorating today. In light of these important events, may I simply invite each one of you to pause and bring back to the fore the reality of our common failure 21 years ago when the world turned a blind eye to the worst violations of human rights that occurred in my country Rwanda in the worst genocide of our times? The rationale behind this reminder is none other than to invite you to take stock and gauge if any lessons have been learned from that disturbing reality and if this Council is currently better apt and equipped to avert or stop future heinous crimes and genocide.

 

Mr. President, sadly we have no choice but to note that human rights violations and abuses are currently becoming the norm as we are growing accustomed to unfathomable human suffering due to unrest and conflicts that are impacting adversely the wellbeing of the people.  This state of affairs is not alien to the spread of terrorism and displacement of people and if this trend persists, enjoyment of freedom and human rights will continue to remain an elusive and distant reality.

 

Mr. President, Rwanda relates more than any other country to the adverse consequences occasioned by such despicable crimes against humanity resulting in depriving people from their basic rights. Drawing from our history whereby such kind of intolerance led to the creation of marginalized communities treated as second-class citizens, who were later systematically slaughtered during the genocide against the Tutsi, the current leadership’s quest for peace has made it a point to prevent Rwandans from falling in the same trap by combating any form of divisionism and genocide denial and by making sure that all citizens enjoy the same privileges and are treated equally. It is against that background that I wish to tackle today’s topic as we mark the end of the ICTR era in international justice.

 

As previously stated in this Council at numerous occasions, the Government of Rwanda believes that the ICTR not only played a key role in the fight against impunity for mass atrocities, but also produced a substantial body of jurisprudence, including definitions of the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, as well as forms of responsibility, such as superior responsibility. Most importantly, the Tribunal established that the genocide that occurred in Rwanda was against the Tutsi, as a group, and it also ruled that acts of rape and sexual violence constitute crimes of genocide if committed with the intent to destroy the targeted group thus contributing to post genocide reconciliation and healing in Rwanda.

 

As we acknowledge that milestone in the post Genocide Rwanda and in the history of International Law and Jurisprudence, with the closure of the first ever UN International Tribunal, we note with satisfaction that, the 93 individuals from all walks of life indicted for genocide by the Court were mainly the masterminds of this crime who had evaded the Rwandan justice as they were international fugitives.

 

We take note of the announcement by Prosecutor Jallow of Ladislas Ntaganzwa’s arrest and trust that he will be transferred as soon as possible to face justice in Rwanda.  We deplore however that other fugitives are still at large and we reiterate our call to all Member States, especially those still harboring genocide suspects to collaborate in a bid to honor their moral obligation to the UN Charter and the Genocide Convention.

 

Recalling our earlier statement on the subject matter in this Council, those fugitives include the tycoon Félicien Kabuga, whose son-in-law, Paulin Murayi, is financially supporting the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a terrorist organization that relentlessly continues to spread genocide ideology and activities in Eastern DRC.

 

We also regret the lack of progress in the monitoring cases referred to national courts outside Rwanda while the two cases referred to Rwanda in 2012 and 2013 are well advanced.  In addition, we are extremely concerned by the decision by the French Prosecution to drop charges against Fr Wenceslas Munyeshyaka; a decision that contradicts the nature and scale of the crimes committed. We also call on the French authorities to expedite the investigations and proceedings in the case against Laurent Bucyibaruta.

 

Mr. President, another outstanding issue that Rwanda is determined to pursue would be determining who should be entrusted with the repository of the ICTR/MICT archives. While recognizing that they constitute a UN Property, Rwanda has, at several instances, strongly reiterated relocation of those archives in Rwanda upon the completion of the Mechanism’s mandate.

 

We believe that there should be no ambiguity in the understanding of the matter.  The role of history and archives in the aftermath of a conflict is to help in transferring historical realities into a shared understanding of the past. The primary beneficiary should first and foremost be the sole proprietor of such history.

 

May I just emphasize that those archives are part of our history and that it is of paramount importance that they be preserved in Rwanda for the sake of future generations? Those historical records thoroughly depicting the most comprehensive account of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi are indeed entitled to Rwandans as the most concerned people. We hope that all stakeholders will understand the legitimacy of our request and do us justice.

 

Another important point that was overlooked pertains to the compensation of the victims of the genocide for their loss which remains a dark spot on the Tribunal’s legacy compared to the Gacaca courts that recognized and honoured victims as well as provided compensation for their looted and destroyed properties.

 

Furthermore Mr President, let me emphasize the need to fight genocide and its ideology and reiterate our belief that giving media platform to a genocide convict is wrong and unethical. The recent media interview with the unrepentant mastermind of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Jean Kambanda, was not only an insult to the victims, but also a platform to spread his evil motives that are still fresh in the memory of many Rwandans.  We hope that Member States will discourage such practices in their territories to avoid similar incidents.

 

I wish also to take this opportunity in concluding these remarks to thank the ICTR Judges and staff for their contribution to humanity in the fight against impunity.  We wish the best of luck to those who will continue to work for the MICT and assure them of Rwanda’s continued cooperation.

 

Allow me to end this statement with these words prompted by a tweet read this morning quoting an article from Igihe.com stating that 4 more civilians were shot by FDLR in neighbouring DRC simply to hammer the following message; Mr. President, Genocide is not an ordinary crime; its devastating effects linger forever.  In Rwanda, we have been battling them for the last 21 years.  Luckily, we were gifted with an enlightened leadership, which, in tandem with the Rwandan population have conducted numerous consultations and national dialogues to try to address its multi-faceted challenges including ending impunity and preventing its future occurrence.  Rwanda will diligently continue to do her part and expects the International Community and the United Nations to do theirs.

 

I thank you for your kind attention

 

Statement by Minister of State in Charge of Cooperaion, Eugene-Richard Gasana at the Open debate on peace, security and development

Thank you Mr. President,

Rwanda would like to join others in thanking your Excellency and your delegation for organizing this important debate. Frist, allow me to offer my condolences to the Government and people of France for their losses in the terrorist attack last Friday.

I thank the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, for his briefing. His presence here today once again highlights his commitment to peace, stability and development, as a core of the work of his office.

Let me also thank Ambassador Olof Skog, Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission and Ms. Ouided Bouchamoui, Noble Peace Laureate, for their respective briefings.

Mr. President,

The concept note provided for this open debate pertinently highlighted the nexus between peace, security and development. This is so true, in that since the end of the Cold War, the pursuit of lasting peace has become, together with sustainable development, a global imperative.  Today, it is obvious that peace is conducive to development and vice versa.

Indeed development, if achieved, contributes decisively to the elimination of several root causes of conflict; and if poverty is reduced, social inequalities are lowered, and there is an optimum allocation of scarce resources; it certainly help to avoid many of the situations that exacerbate conflict.

In many situations however, these goals are pursued separately; which then render them unsustainable; or simply put it, policy makers and practitioners do not agree on which one to prioritize first.

In his acceptance speech at the Peace and Democracy award event recently held in Morocco under the theme “From shocks to co-emergence”, H. E President Paul Kagame stated that “peace is the starting point for growth and development. But peace is much more than the absence of violence. True peace is above all a mindset. It is a condition produced when citizens are taken seriously as individuals, as stakeholders, and mobilised towards a good politics and fully included in governance.”

Mr. President,

We believe that current global trends necessitate a pro-active approach to make peace, security and development a mutually reinforcing and intertwined package both at national and international level.

At national level, we are of the view that building governance and the rule of law, combating corruption, improving transparency and accountability, and building confidence in our people lay strong foundation for sustainable development, durable peace and security. This has been true in our case, and all the economic and social progress that we have been able to achieve in the last 21 years rest on our leadership commitment to ultimately ensure that all citizens have safety and security and an inclusive and democratic governance.

The international community has an important role to play, that is, it should assist in building local capacity for peace-sensitive development, in order to enable the government to formulate and implement policies that are sensitive to conflict, minimizing the risks to development interventions. Conflict sensitivity provides ways to reduce conflict, helps communities build peace, and enables institutions to address the structural causes of conflict.

In this regard, we value the work of the Peacebuilding Commission for sustained efforts in post conflict situations since 2005, despite considerable challenges. We note with appreciation the recommendations of the Advisory Group of Experts on the review of the Peacebuilding Architecture; which proved once again that the PBA is inadequate, under-resourced and largely neglected by member states, including by the Security Council. It is our hope that the International Community will rise to the occasion, and find ways to effectively implement the review recommendations.

Lastly Mr President,

With billions of people still living in poverty around the world, rising population, natural resources depletion and adverse impacts of environmental degradation as well recent crises related to public health, migration, and the spread of all types of extremism, including terrorism, these are some of most obvious examples of the need for strong and effective global cooperation.  The adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, along with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals build on that premise that an integrated approach involving addressing peace, security and development is necessary. Goal 16 specifically recognizes that sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security, and peace and security will be at risk without sustainable development.

Improving the conditions for social justice in particular is fundamental to the promotion of peace in a variety of contexts throughout the world. The Sustainable Development Goals should serve as effective tools in realizing inclusive development for all and the right course of action for all of us to strive for an Inclusive and widespread economic development; which give more people a greater present stake in avoiding violent disruption; at the same time, offering them credible hope of a better future for themselves and their children.

I thank you.