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Statement by DPR, Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, at the UN General Assembly High Level meeting on Human Rights

Let me join others in thanking the President of the General Assembly for convening this important debate to reflect on how to strategically move forward in ensuring full enjoyment of human rights and how this contributes to peace, security and development.

Allow me also to thank previous speakers, including the High-level delegates whose invaluable contributions enabled us to share useful lessons. Today’s high-level debate is indeed of crucial importance if we are to nurture stable and peaceful societies. In this respect, our views are in line with the concept note that clearly highlights the intrinsic nexus between Peace, Security and Development as key pre-requisites to the attainment and safeguarding of sustainable development.

This debate is therefore timely as we mark this triple milestone; the 70th anniversary of the creation of the UN, the 50th anniversary of the international human rights covenants as well as the 30th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development. However, it is not enough to make this statement if abject poverty, serious human rights violations, deprivation and exclusion continue to be reported in many countries around the world while international responses appear to be inefficient.

We believe that respect for human rights, freedoms, and the rule of law are essential elements in fostering inclusive societies, which is one of the key pillars to warrant sustainable peace and development as outlined in the 2030 Agenda.

In this context, Rwanda reaffirms its strong commitment to the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all our citizens and beyond and has vowed to address special needs of vulnerable groups namely children, youth, women, genocide survivors, people with disabilities and the elderly by putting in place inclusive, representative and responsive institutions.

For Rwanda to build a resilient state and a peaceful society sustainably from a failed state while ensuring that no one was left behind, the promotion and respect of human rights and of the socio economic wellbeing and capabilities of all citizens irrespective of class, gender, ethnic origin or religion emerged as an urgent imperative to embrace in the immediate aftermath of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

Central to overcoming all hurdles associated with our tragic encounters were also accountability mechanisms put in place to tackle all inequalities depriving people from leading a dignified life. In addition, ensuring participation and empowering citizens to shape their development, monitor and review their progress enabled them to take informed decisions that impacted their lives positively. Finally, the development of appropriate mechanisms to build community capacity for citizens to identify, assess and assert their priorities in local development planning and to hold their leaders to account served as a corrective measure while engaging in on-going consultations related to peace and security was rather preventive.

This dual approach giving a platform to citizens was sustained through a strong commitment to the rule of law, human rights, transparency, participation, inclusion and democratic governance to foster unity and reconciliation and the promotion of social cohesion as well as of sound economic institutions that support the private, public, and civil-society sectors in a productive and balanced manner.

At the same time, we also put in place, as a matter of priority, legal and policy frameworks and institutional mechanisms to facilitate the process of gender equality and empowerment of women. These laws, policies and mechanisms are translated into projects and programs to make sure that both, our men and women, boys and girls benefit and enjoy their rights equally.

In that experience, we have learnt how inclusion of previously marginalized population, including women and youth has not only strengthened our governance structures, but also been essential in furthering reconciliation and promoting opportunities for positive change towards peace. In addition, inclusion has been our cornerstone strategy in building consensus and has led us to a common and shared vision of a prosperous and peaceful Rwanda.

We therefore believe that each legal and policy making process should put people at the center and make sure their human rights are respected and recognized regardless of their race, gender, status, country of origin among other things.

Like many others who shelter refugees, we are also alarmed by increasing acts of racial discrimination, violence and abuse, including those directed towards migrants, refugees, women and girls, but also men and children living in vulnerable humanitarian settings. After all, human lives matter before human rights, and when we talk of rights, we must ensure that lives are protected and preserved.

In closing, let me draw from our experience once again to commend initiated collaborations done at different levels through multi-stakeholders partnerships particularly between non state actors, national human rights institutions and our government that were instrumental in tracking down and empowering the marginalized to know their rights and to seek redress when they are violated.

I thank you

 

Statement by Minister of State in Charge of Cooperation, Eugene- Richard Gasana, at the High Level Meeting on implementing and endorsing the Kigali Principles

UN_Protection of Civilians_14President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft,

Honorable Ministers,

Our distinguished panelists,

Distinguished Delegates,

It is an honor to be with you today for this one-of-a-kind event that allows us to reaffirm our commitment to protecting civilians in armed conflict through the endorsement of the Kigali Principles.

I first would like to welcome my co-chair, H.E Bert Koenders. Foreign Affairs Minister of the Netherlands. Thank you very much for your commitment to these principles, from the active engagement of your Permanent Representative to your yourself Excellency. Your past experience leading the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali undoubtedly provide us with an important partner who grasps fully the essence of the Kigali Principles and its importance when we talk about bringing peacekeeping into the 21st Century.

We have a special opportunity today to shape the future of UN peacekeeping by adhering to 18 principles that hold our efforts to the highest standards as troop and police contributing countries, as peacekeepers, as mission leadership and as protection of civilian stakeholders. The failures of our past should not dictate our future but rather should inform us of what we can do better.

The 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda blatantly took the lives of over a million Rwandans and impressed upon us the conviction that we must take every measure necessary to secure the lives of civilians. This conviction coupled with our history fueled our desire to contribute to peacekeeping in a profound way. We currently have over 6,000 troops and police serving in numerous peacekeeping missions and we aspire to contribute even more.

Our troops and police live by the guiding words of these Kigali Principles. They receive extensive pre-deployment training on the protection of civilians, believe in identifying threats to civilians, are prepared to use force when necessary and consistent with the mandate, and possess an unwavering determination to deliver on their responsibility to thoroughly protect.

Almost a year after the inception of the Kigali Principles, we have troop and police contributing countries from different regions of the world endorsing them. I thank the following countries for their resolute commitment to protecting the lives of civilians: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Italy, Netherlands, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and Uruguay whom have been with us since the very beginning, and the new endorsements by Austria, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Estonia, Finland, Ghana, Guinea, Ireland,  Malawi, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, Ukraine, the United States and Zambia.

Dear Colleagues,  

The reality is that conflicts are escalating in number and changing in nature at levels and speeds that are unprecedented. We must meet these challenges head on by adapting and modernizing our ways of old. This includes having robust and proactive peacekeeping that closes the gaps on what is asked of us to protect civilians and what we actually provide. What is most at stake is not our reputation or the legacy we intend to leave behind but rather the lives of those civilians that have involuntarily been absorbed in conflicts and wars that have taken their loved ones, endangered their lives and stolen their livelihood.

The report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations and the subsequent report of the Secretary-General called for meeting the needs on the ground to proactively and effectively protect civilians. The Kigali Principles answer these calls and they seek accountability for the way forward. Just earlier this year, the Kigali Principles were included in the C-34 Report for the 2016 substantive session, a growing testament to their relevance.

But more can be done.

The UN, the body that brought us together in 1945 to secure peace and security for all generations to come, has an essential role to play in advancing the principles.

It can assist us in invoking the principles in all the areas in which they are vital to, from the pre-deployment training standards the UN enforces to the materialization of a rapid deployment component that can swiftly aid the UN when a crisis hits.

The Secretary-General’s endorsement of the principles can contribute to further institutionalize the principles, leading the charge towards a Secretariat that can deliver on operational standby and rapid deployment arrangements that meet at least the 30 day target for a traditional mission, and 90 day target for a complex mission.

The Kigali Principles can also enforce the numerous policies and frameworks the Office of Military Affairs and other similar departments are supplying to troop contributing countries to better guide their efforts on the ground.  As H.E. President Paul Kagame has poignantly stated, we must ensure that the “necessity to protect civilians does not get lost in ideological debates,” which are void of action and do nothing to save lives.

I therefore ask those member states present here today that have not endorsed the principles to deeply consider them and their contribution to peacekeeping. Lets commit to making a difference on the field and fulfill the implementation of the protection of civilian mandates we have been tasked with.  At very core of our efforts is one fundamental task: the protection of any and all civilians.

The way forward must be guided by a collective effort from each of us that strengthens our present peacekeeping efforts and sets the foundation for future pursuits of peace and security.

Dear Colleagues,

Today, we have the opportunity to write a narrative that matches our innate desire to save the lives of those civilians entangled in armed conflict. Ambassador Samantha Power has been writing the pages of this narrative, working fervently to secure the United States’ support for these principles. She has witnessed first hand the terrible plight civilians continue to endure and felt at the most profound levels the responsibility to do more to better protect the civilians when she went to the Central African Republic, to Mali and to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her unrelenting leadership in advancing the protection of civilians has made us all reexamine our own contributions to peacekeeping and fortified the important role peacekeepers play in protecting civilians and keeping peace at the same time. Ambassador Power, thank you for your tireless efforts, your invaluable contribution to these principles does not go unnoticed.

I would also like to thank the experts that have worked day in and day out to seeing the materialization of these principles unfold. Thank you Gideon Maltz from the US Mission, my own team at the Mission from Col Vincent Nyakarundi to his successor , Lt. Col Raoul Bazatoha; and Col Nortbert Moerkens, and Eran Nagan from the Netherland Mission for all your hard work and through you  all the to other colleagues who have been involved in this process. You have been the impetus for the growing endorsement of these principles.

Dear Colleagues,

Le us leave here today with an even deeper conviction for saving lives and an equally profound understanding that what we choose to do or not does affect distant lands and unfamiliar faces that have far too often paid the highest cost in today’s conflicts. Join us in crafting a future that puts the lives of all civilians at the core of our efforts.

The Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians

We, as member states endorsing the Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians, and in line with our commitment to the effective implementation of Protection of Civilians mandates in peace operations, hereby pledge:

1. To train all of our troops on the protection of civilians prior to their deployment to missions.

2. To ensure that our sector and contingent-commanders, as well as our nominees for mission leadership positions, have a high level of training and preparedness on peacekeeping operations and, in particular, the protection of civilians.

3. To be prepared to use force to protect civilians, as necessary and consistent with the mandate. Such action encompasses making a show of force as a deterrent; interpositioning our forces between armed actors and civilians; and taking direct military action against armed actors with clear hostile intent to harm civilians.

4. Not to stipulate caveats or other restrictions that prevent us from fulfilling our responsibility to protect civilians in accordance with the mandate.

5. To identify and communicate to the UN any resource and capability gaps that inhibit our ability to protect civilians.

6. To strive, within our capabilities, to contribute the enabling capabilities (e.g. helicopters) to peacekeeping operations that facilitate improved civilian protection.

7. To avoid undue delay in protecting civilians, by investing our contingent commander with the authority to use force to protect civilians in urgent situations without the need for further consultations with capital.

8. Not to hesitate to take action to protect civilians, in accordance with the rules of engagement, in the absence of an effective host government response or demonstrated willingness to carry out its responsibilities to protect civilians.

9. To demand clarity from the UN and mission leadership on our rules of engagement, including under which circumstances the use of force is appropriate.

10. To seek to identify, as early as possible, potential threats to civilians and proactively take steps to mitigate such threats and otherwise reduce the vulnerability of the civilian population.

11. To seek to enhance the arrangements for rapid deployment, including by supporting a full review of the UN’s standby arrangements, exploring a system in which earmarked units from troop and police contributing countries could be placed in readiness in order to ensure rapid troop deployment, and encouraging the utilization of partnerships with regional organisations such as the African Union and its RECs.

12. To be vigilant in monitoring and reporting any human rights abuses or signs of impending violence in the areas in which our personnel serve.

13. To take disciplinary action against our own personnel if and when they fail to act to protect civilians when circumstances warrant such action.

14. To undertake our own review, in parallel to any after-action review, in the event that our personnel are unable to protect civilians, and identify and share key lessons for avoiding such failures in the future.

15. To hold our own personnel to the highest standard of conduct, and to vigorously investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute any incidents of abuse.

16. To better implement protection of civilians mandates and deliver on our responsibilities, we request better, regular and more extensive consultations on the mandating of peacekeeping missions. When mandates of peacekeeping missions are under review and may change, it should also be mandatory for the Security Council to consult all troop and police contributing countries deployed to the mission. We commit to bring our own ideas and solutions to these consultations that can strengthen the implementation of protection of civilians mandates.

17. To urge the Security Council to ensure that mandates are matched with the requisite resources, and to commit to support a process that addresses the current critical resource gaps in several missions. We support a more phased mandating process that can ensure a better alignment of resources and mandates.

18. Noting that any well-planned mandate implementation may be undermined by inefficient mobility, logistics or support; To call for effective support of all military plans, including contingency plans; and to commit to work with the Secretariat to review the current support arrangements, including possible transfer of authority over more of the logistical capability to the military component, where appropriate.

Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Hon. Louise Mushikiwabo at the signing of the Paris Agreement in New York

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  • Your Excellency Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General
  • Excellencies Heads of State and Government
  • Honourable Ministers and Heads of Delegation
  • Distinguished delegates
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

I am pleased to address this Assembly on behalf of the Republic of Rwanda.

At the outset, I would like to add my voice to those who have already spoken to thank the United Nations Secretary-General for organising today’s event.

Excellencies,

Distinguished delegates,

The Paris Agreement reaffirms our commitment to combat climate change and provides the framework to build the resilient and sustainable future we want, and that our citizens deserve.

It heralds a new era in the global response to a warming planet and sends the clear message that climate change must be addressed now, it must be addressed by all of us together.

Excellencies

As one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change, Rwanda is acutely aware of the challenges that lie ahead. And while the Paris Agreement is a historic step in the right direction, we must not be content with today’s signing alone. The real work now begins to ratify and match our commitments with action.

For more than a decade, Rwanda has taken a proactive approach and put the environment and climate change at the heart of all we do. We were the first country to ban plastic bags and commit to nationwide landscape restoration and every year, Rwandans plant millions of trees to protect our forests, rivers and wetlands.

In addition, our long-term national development plan, Vision 2020, and our Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy will see Rwanda become a developed, climate resilient and low carbon economy by 2050.

Distinguished delegates,

A key part of achieving this vision is Rwanda’s Green Fund – a ground-breaking environment and climate change investment fund and the largest of its kind in Africa.

The fund invests in the best public and private projects that have the potential for transformative change and that support Rwanda’s commitment to building a green economy. The fund has mobilised 100 million dollars to date and is a leading example of the impact that well managed climate financing can have.

Excellencies,

I am pleased to announce that the Government of Rwanda will take all necessary steps to ratify the Paris Agreement as soon as possible. We are ready to play our part.

However, to reach the goals set by the agreement, support to the least developing countries through increased levels of climate finance and technology transfer must be put in place. This will enable robust action in our countries.

Distinguished delegates,

You can count on the commitment and support of Rwanda as we work together to limit global temperature increases to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

We owe this to future generations who deserve to inherit a planet where they too can achieve their dreams and aspirations.

I thank you

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative, Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, at the launch of the report on the illustrative governance pilots on SDG 16

At the outset, allow me to first thank The Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA) for convening this important meeting. Let me also thank UNDP for having initiated and co-facilitated the dialogue on the implementation of the Post-2015 agenda in our countries and particularly for their mentorship during this illustrative governance pilots on SDG 16.  Rwanda benefited tremendously from the dialogue and experiences from other pilots countries.

In this vein, I take this opportunity to thank all other pilots countries for availing their resources and expertise for a better understanding of this vital goal. This briefing will enable us to share our findings with other member states and stakeholders whose contributions are also invaluable.

We are also very pleased to welcome the publishing of the final report.

My presentation will delve into lessons learned from this experience stemming mainly on the importance attached to issues of governance and I will end proposing a way forward.

Rwanda’s path and progress towards its long-term Vision 2020’s roadmap clearly delineates short and medium-term objectives highlighting governance and accountability as prerequisites in achieving sustainable development.

To achieve accountable and inclusive governance, Rwanda’s leadership has developed a bottom-up approach engaging its population in development discussions through massive consultations. This participatory and inclusive process has enabled its citizens to make effective informed-decisions and to hold their leaders to account

That is what prompted Rwanda to put in place an elaborate system for data collection with baselines and indicators to track progress in governance, rule of law and security even prior to the piloting project whose findings are contained in this report.

This report is therefore the result of different phases on the Pilots Initiative conducted since 2014 that have provided inputs and priorities needed to capture more robust information on progress towards the realization of all SDGs.

The Pilot work conducted in 5 countries led to emerging lessons and trends derived from each pilot country’s experience. It also identified challenges inherent to collecting, identifying and prioritizing indicators and stressed the need to produce reliable disaggregated data using a diverse range of data sources.

The work has also emphasized the importance of localization at the sub-national level vis-à-vis universalization and harmonization of indicators. It further put an emphasis on reconciling indicators with appropriate policies and processes that lead to change with targets and indicators related to the SDGs that have been incorporated into existing national development plans and policies.

As a country that piloted Goal 16, Rwanda had already initiated its domestication through national programs, homegrown solutions and in different tools including the Citizen Report Card (CRC), the Rwanda Governance Scorecard (RGS), the Rwanda Media Barometer (RMB), as well as the Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer (RRB).

Out of the 17 SDGs, 12 are captured in Rwanda Governance Scorecard (RGS) which measures 34% of all SDGs targets and 60% of Goal 16’s. While the RGS can be considered as a domestication framework for SDGs implementation, the CRC brings in probably the most important ingredients: namely the citizen perspective and ownership

In addition, The Rwanda Governance Board adapted the application of ICT in governance matters from global processes and integrated it in the RGS assessment, starting with the 2014 edition where the extent of the use of ICT in Court processes has been measured as a function of promoting the rule of law.

Going forward, legal identity for all, including birth registration, is set to be included in publication of the Rwanda Governance Scorecard 2015.

Let me point out also that initiated collaborations, done at different levels, have involved multi-stakeholder partnerships particularly between civil society and government and proved to be effective in advancing work on identifying and refining relevant targets in several countries. Involvement and coordination between statistics offices, other government agencies and academics have facilitated efforts to develop an integrated list of indicators.

To sum up, I would state that the most important pillars likely to foster the SDGs success are the national leadership and national ownership as well as a strong focus on planning and budgeting. The GoR has mainstreamed homegrown solutions at all levels of the governance structure, from the central to local government, to ensure that the development process of the country is owned from the grassroots level.

Thanks to the national Leadership and citizens’ ownership, Rwanda has been able to register success on almost all the MDGs, and in transiting from MDGs to SDGs. It is therefore very crucial for Goal 16 to capture what was potentially hindering the success of MDGs.

Although there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, it is evident that the pilot’s initiative report contains some comprehensive information fed by different contextual experiences that were captured during the piloting phases. It is relevant to note that existing governance practices such as indexes developed by the Rwanda Governance board, especially the Rwanda governance Scorecard are highly informative in defining Goal 16’s indicators and the overall framework of the SDGs

In conclusion, Rwanda’s experience shows that governance has played a key role in generating and consolidating development gains. In this regard, the performance of the judiciary as an essential component of Goal 16 continues to improve with a greater share of legal cases handled by traditional means of justice such as Abunzi (Mediation committees). They consequently continue to enjoy high confidence amongst the public (76%) as is attested by the increase in their share on overall number of court cases.

I have great confidence that this pilots’ initiative report will help usher in prioritizing the SDGs indicators as well as in mainstreaming targets into individual countries planning process to gear-up the roll-out of the SDGs’ implementation.

 

I thank you!