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Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative, Olivier Nduhungirehe, at the UN Security Council wrap up session

Madam President,

I thank you for being the seventh Council president to organize a wrap-up session this year, the third under the format of a public briefing. As Rwanda has been always saying, the holding of these meetings provide a unique and regular opportunity for the Security Council to assess its work and critically examine its progress and effectiveness. And this format of public briefings enhances transparency vis-à-vis the UN membership and the larger public.

Rwanda further appreciates the way you, Madam President, presided over this Council during the second and last presidency of Argentina in its current term. We particularly appreciate the fact that during this month of October, you continued the “Power Formula”, introduced by the US Permanent Representative in September to encourage more interaction between Council members and the briefers, during closed consultations. We extend our appreciation to your Deputy Permanent Representative/Political Coordinator, the engineer who made a well-oiled Argentina’s machinery function during this month.

I take this opportunity to congratulate Ambassador Gary Quinlan of Australia for assuming his last presidency of the Council for a busy month of November. I have no doubt that in November; the interactive formula initiated in September will be pursued, as Ambassador Quinlan has never been a man of written scripts anyway. As Argentina, Australia, as well as the other Outgoing Five, namely Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea and Rwanda are slowly moving towards the end of their term, which I believe was successful; we reiterate our congratulations to our successors; Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela for their election earlier this month and wish them success for the two years to come.

Madam President,

Except for being an election’s month, October was also the month for the adoption of the annual report of the Security Council for which Rwanda, as the Council President for the month of July 2014, was in charge of the drafting process. We thank again our fellow Council members, as well as the Secretariat, for their invaluable contributions and support. As we stated while introducing the report last week, Rwanda believes that a more analytical report, with an assessment of the Council’s effectiveness during the reporting period, followed by a debate on the occasion of its adoption, would benefit the work of this Council in the future.

It’s in this context that Rwanda appreciated the discussion held by UN member states during the open debate on working methods last Thursday. We all agree that pending a comprehensive reform of the Security Council, there is a need to continue improving accountability, transparency and effectiveness of this UN organ, entrusted with the responsibility of maintenance of international peace and security. As we stated in the open debate, we believe that the improvement of working methods will require the extension of the mandate of the Ombudsperson to the 1267 Sanctions Committee on Al Qaida and Associated Individuals and Entities to all Sanctions Committee, as well as the enhancement of dialogue and interaction between Council members and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), in order to regularly consider all outstanding issues related to ICC referrals and deferrals, in accordance with the Rome Statute.

Another Court with which the Council should strengthen its relations is the International Court of Justice (ICJ); and the private meeting we held yesterday with its President was an opportunity to appreciate the important role played by the Court in the pacific settlement of disputes among states.

Madam President,

The annual briefing you organized this month with Force Commanders of UN peacekeeping missions was critical for this Council to better understand the challenges they face on the ground. And we particularly appreciate the fact that the upcoming Australian presidency will organize, in November, a similar meeting with the Heads of UN Police components. During the meeting with Force Commanders, we were briefed on the delicate situation in various missions, such as the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which is no longer operating in a peacekeeping environment, as it is facing terrorist organisations, against which it was not mandated, equipped or trained to fight.

The situation of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) is quite different. The mission, which is one of the largest UN peacekeeping missions, was reinforced last year, with a Force Intervention Brigade mandated to neutralize armed groups in eastern DRC, including the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR). Nonetheless, despite a clear mandate and a consequential budget, it is unfortunate that MONUSCO is, fifteen years after its establishment, yet to live up to the Council and Congolese’s expectations.

Therefore, while the Security Council should ensure, when adopting resolutions, that mandates provided to the peacekeeping missions reflect the security context on the ground, it is also critical that this Council ensure that the activities of those missions are result-oriented, so that they can be held accountable.

Mr President,

The situation in the Middle East was prominent on the programme of work of October, as it was in the months before. With the gridlock on the Middle East peace process, the ongoing fighting in Syria, the rise of a barbaric terrorist organization named Islamic State or Daesh, or the increasing security chaos in Yemen, the Security Council seems unarmed and unable to have a significant impact on the situation in the region. Nonetheless, it would be very convenient to always put the blame on this Council. This UN organ is not a separate and independent entity. It was created by us, UN Member states. It IS us! Therefore, as long as members of this Council, particularly the permanent ones, as well as the other world and regional powers will not use their influence, in New York and in the field, to support efforts of the Security Council in maintaining international peace and security – and we all know that they can -, this organ will always be used as a scapegoat for international inaction.

To conclude, Madam President, as you have successfully completed 22 months and two presidencies in the Council, I wish, without waiting the 31st of December, to congratulate Argentina for its successful term in the Security Council. I wish to particularly pay tribute to you, Madam President, for your unique style, talent and commitment for the improvement of working methods of this Council, for the promotion and protection of women in conflict and post-conflict situations, and for your intransigence for justice and accountability.

 

I thank you.

 

 

Statement by Political Coordinator, Lawrence Manzi, at the emergency meeting on the Middle East, including the Palestine question

Thank you Madam President,

I also thank Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, for his briefing on the current tensions in the region, following the announcement of construction of new housing units in East Jerusalem.

Last week, the Security Council held an open debate on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. This Council noted that the situation remains fragile, not only in Gaza, but also in the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. The recent announcement by the Israeli government to advance construction plans in East Jerusalem in the areas of Ramat Shlomo and Har Homa districts has predictably heightened tensions. This situation, however, should be addressed peacefully and responsibly, with the aim of preserving the chances for the resumption of talks and ensuring the viability of a two–state solution.

Madam President,

We shall not lose sight on the fact that the effects of the 50-day war around Gaza are still fresh and that any unilateral action from any side could relapse the region into violence. Despite the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire in August, as said by USG Feltman, the current status is not sustainable, but we also know that any failure to move forward will incite parties to resort to unilateral decisions. Therefore, the parties, through the resumption of negotiations, should make additional efforts to put this vicious circle to an end.

Madam President,

In this context of heightened tension, my delegation reiterates the importance of respect for religious freedoms, including unhindered access of worshippers of all faiths to their holy sites, and commitment by both Israelis and Palestinians to ensure that members of their respective communities refrain from any provocation. The status of the Old City and its religious sites are extremely sensitive to the final status issues, which can only be resolved through direct negotiations between parties. Therefore, we call upon parties to continue to uphold the 20-year-old peace treaty regarding the religious status of the area of the al-Aksa Mosque in East Jerusalem. It is in this regard we commend the Israeli Government for announcing that they will maintain the status quo agreement of the holy sites and that they will not restrict access for all people.

Madam President,

In order for the world to ever witness the realization of our common goal of a two states for two peoples living side by side in peace and security, both parties, supported by their peace partners, should recommit themselves to a comprehensive and negotiated settlement to end this conflict, and “save succeeding generations [in the region] from the scourge of war”.

I thank you.

 

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative, Olivier Nduhungirehe, at the UN Security Council open debate on Women, Peace and Security

Madame President,

I join others in thanking you for organizing this important open debate on “Women and Peace and Security: Displaced Women and Girls: Leaders and Survivors”, on the occasion of the 14th anniversary of resolution 1325. The choice of this specific topic is a demonstration of your continued commitment, Madam President, for the protection and promotion of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations.

I also thank Madam Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, Mr. Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations; Mr. Chaloka Beyani, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs); and Ms. Suaad Allami of the NGO Working Group of Women and Peace and Security, for their insightful remarks.

Madam President,

The importance Rwanda attaches to this debate derives from our own experience, as many Rwandans were deprived from the right to their country for around 35 years, due to exclusion and bad governance. Rwandans lived for many years in refugee camps in neighboring countries, and many witnessed how women and girls were particularly vulnerable. Fortunately, our efforts after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi paid off and from 1994 to 2013, over 3.4 million Rwandan refugees, a majority of whom women and girls, returned home and were successfully reintegrated in the society.

On 30 June 2013, the UNHCR declared the Cessation Clause for Rwandan refugees. Following this decision, Rwanda continued to mobilize and facilitate the return of the remaining 100,000 refugees, as per UNHCR’s statistics. In this respect, we continue to work with the UNHCR to accelerate the full implementation of that Cessation Clause, so that all Rwandan enjoy the right to their country. At the same time, we are concerned at the fate of women, men and children that are still held hostages and used as human shields by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), for the past 20 years. We hope that MONUSCO and the DRC Government will ensure that they come back home – as more than 10,000 already did since 2001 -, in accordance with resolutions 2098 (2013) and 2147 (2014).

Madam President,

As the concept note you prepared for this debate recalled, the current number of  refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons was never been higher since the World War II. More than 50 million by the end of 2013 – many more since 2014 -, 32,000 forcibly displaced people per day, half of them being women and girls. It is clear that, as the permanent representative of Luxembourg reminded us, this situation of forced displacement exacerbates an already existing vulnerability of women and girls, as they are exposed, more than anyone else, to sexual and gender based violence (SGBV); to trafficking and enslavement; to exclusion based on historical and cultural traditions; and to specific health needs. Furthermore, many women, who lost their husbands during conflicts, face social and economic challenges, as a number of them are uneducated, as they take responsibility for their households.

Since the adoption of resolution 1325 in October 2000, however, there has been notable progress in the advancement of the agenda of women and peace and security, which has become one of the priorities of this Council, as demonstrated by country-specific and thematic resolutions we have been adopting following 1325. UN Member states, including my own, are also at the forefront on this issue, as many of them adopted National Action Plans to implement resolution 1325 and endorsed the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. As for the African Union, the continental organization, as recalled by the distinguished representative of Nigeria, adopted in 2009 a landmark Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, known as Kampala Convention, which Rwanda ratified. This Convention contains a number of obligations for State parties, related the general and specific protection of women and girls, including against the SGBV, and to reproductive and sexual health. Given this background, we can say that the world is equipped with a comprehensive legal and normative framework for an effective protection of women and girls, including in the case of forced displacement.

Madam President,

Despite local, national, regional and global efforts to protect women refugees and IDPs, there is still a gap between the framework and its effective implementation. The title you proposed for this debate, Madam President, invites us to discuss about “Displaced Women and Girls: Leaders and Survivors”. Those two notions, leaders and survivors, are complementary, as both “protection” and “promotion” are indispensable for an effective implementation of our policies.

Indeed, the protection of women and girls, in case of forced displacement, requires our resolve, as we must effectively protect them from SGBV in refugee and IDP camps; and to ensure that those who were sexually abused benefit from medical services, including health and psychological care.

One of the practical steps to achieve this include increased deployment of women peacekeepers. This will of course be possible with increased training and recruitment of women into national armies and police. It will also require greater commitment of member states to nominate women peacekeepers, including in leadership positions, as well as women protection advisers. Another practical measure to protect women is, as suggested by Mr. Beyani, to prevent women to venture outside refugees or IDP camps to collect firewood for cooking. In this regard, Rwandan peacekeepers in UNAMID brought to Darfur improved energy-saving cooking stoves, which were introduced in Rwanda in 2000 in order to preserve trees.  And we believe that those cooking stoves are critical not only to protect the environment but also to protect women refugees and IDPs.

However, no protection measure would be effective if it is not accompanied by our collective resolve to hold the perpetrators of sexual violence and other mass atrocities accountable.

Furthermore, protection of women refugees and IDPs must go hand in hand with their promotion, their empowerment. This requires our collective efforts to promote the education of girls – and I take this opportunity to pay tribute, as Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka did, to Malaala Yousafzai who was awarded the Nobel Prize this month. Women empowerment should also be reflected, not only in this Council, but also in other leading positions such as the Government and the Parliament. Indeed, this measure would not only reflect the actual representatively of women in our societies but will also enable them to ensure the mainstream of gender issues in our laws, including those related to economic, human rights and humanitarian issues.

Madam President,

As the distinguished representative of the United Kingdom stated (who I thank for introducing the presidential statement just adopted), I will reiterate that the best protection of women refugees and IDPs is to ensure that they do not become refugees and IDPs in the first place. As Rwanda has always been saying, the Security Council needs to shift its attention from the day-to-day management of conflicts and their consequences to the prevention of conflicts, including by addressing its root causes.

Let me conclude, Madam President, by noting that 2015 will be the year of a triple review: the peacekeeping review, the peacebuilding review and the High-level review of resolution 1325 (2000). We hope that all these reviews will be complementary and lead to a better protection and promotion of women, especially in conflict and post-conflict situations. And our country is ready to share her experience and further contribute to a world where women and girls are not only protected, but are also empowered, to become the leaders they deserve to be.

I thank you.

 

 

Statement by Minister of State in Charge of Cooperation, Eugene-Richard Gasana, at the UN Security Council briefing on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Madam President,

I thank Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) for his statement. I would also wish to welcome Saïd Djinnit, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region, for his first briefing in this Council.

Madam President,

In April this year, Rwanda and the whole world commemorated the 20th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi, which claimed lives of more than a million of our compatriots in just a hundred days. On this occasion, I recall that our country had introduced a draft that became resolution 2150, which was cosponsored and adopted by all fifteen Council members. This resolution reminded that leaders and members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) were among the perpetrators of this genocide and further recalled that “the FDLR is a group under United Nations sanctions, operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and which has continued to promote and commit ethnically based and other killings in Rwanda and in the DRC”.

This is the FDLR we are talking about today; and this is the FDLR we have been talking about for the past twenty years! We are here not talking about a simple negative force such as the dozen armed groups operating in eastern DRC. As recalled by all recent products of this Council, the FDLR is not only the oldest negative force in that area, which has actually triggered the creation of a number of other armed groups, but it is also a genocidal movement that committed the unspeakable twenty years back. Today, the FDLR remains the main military and security threat to the DRC, Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region, due to its genocide ideology, to the mass atrocities it regularly commits against civilians in eastern DRC, to its substantive military structure with international networks, and to the active support it enjoys from state and non-state actors. These actors have demonstrated, on multiple occasions, their hidden agenda to sanitize and preserve the FDLR, in order to eventually destabilize Rwanda.

Madam President,

To deal with the security situation in eastern DRC, which includes the FDLR issue, the Security Council adopted, on 30 November 1999 (almost 15 years ago) a UN Observation Mission in DRC (MONUC), which mandate was expanded by resolution 1291 (2000) to include the protection of civilians “under imminent threat of physical violence”. In 2010, this Mission was renamed by resolution 1925 “UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC” (MONUSCO), with a mandate that include the “support to strategies towards a sustainable solution of the FDLR issue, including repatriation, reinsertion or resettlement in other areas, or judicial prosecution as appropriate”. However, despite a clear mandate given by this Council, MONUC/MONUSCO was unable or unwilling to implement it fully.

It’s in this context that the Security Council adopted resolution 2098 in March 2013 establishing the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), operating under MONUSCO. This Force was given a robust and offensive mandate, which includes the mission “to prevent the expansion of all armed groups, neutralize these groups, and to disarm them.”Also, they got hug support in terms of equipment. This was basically a third mandate for a third force in fourteen years.

Regrettably, upon deployment, the FIB chose to restrict its action on a newly created movement named M23, and once again failed to address the question of the FDLR. In November 2013, the M23 was defeated and Rwanda hoped, at that time, that MONUSCO and its FIB would eventually decide to implement resolution 2098, which we co-sponsored, and neutralize the FDLR. Unfortunately, despite a tough rhetoric by the Head of MONUSCO against the FDLR, no concrete action against that movement was carried out (or even planned) by the UN Force.

In the meantime, a Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region was signed in Addis Ababa in February 2014. By this “Framework of Peace”, leaders of the region once again called for the neutralization of all armed groups, including the FDLR. Furthermore, since the beginning of this year, various summits of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), be it alone or jointly with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), emphasized on the need for the disarmament and demobilization of the FDLR, as well as the necessity of military actions against those unwilling to disarm, in accordance with resolution 2098 (2013).

Madame President, to justify FIB inaction against the FDLR, MONUSCO’s senior leadership attempted to explain that military action against the FDLR was complicated because combatants were living among civilians. This is simply not true and we provided to MONUSCO extensive evidence on the location of FDLR military camps, separated from civilians. In any case, MONUSCO’s duty include the protection of civilians by ensuring that women, men and children are not used as human shield or deprived from security, healthcare, education and development. A military action to separate civilians from combatants is therefore imperative, where applicable.

Madam President,

Given this this impasse, the FDLR could not miss this golden opportunity. In order to achieve its objective, this genocidal movement continued to form alliances with subversive opposition groups against Rwanda; to engage in activities aimed at gaining sympathy and support from the region.

In May this year, the FDLR decided to adjust its strategy by committing to “voluntary disarm”. However, from a force of 3,500 combatants, the “disarmament” exercise that allegedly took place in North and South Kivu on 30 May and 6 June respectively comprised of only 188 low-ranking combatants and their dependents. Since then, the disarmed combatants have refused to relocate from Walungu and Kanyabayonga to a designated camp in Kisangani, whereas no disarmament has taken place since 2 July 2014. On the contrary, and according to our information, the FDLR continued to reinforce its troops and around 200 additional elements were recruited since May 2014.

You may recall that the FDLR’s delaying tactics, seen by some as ‘commitments’, made  the ICGLR and SADC, at the request of the DRC Government and other countries of the region, to decide, in July 2014, to give the FDLR a six-month period to disarm, expiring on 2 January 2015. But, as all stakeholders have now noticed, the FDLR had never had any intention to disarm. On the contrary, the FDLR, through its allies in the region, attempted, even recently in the ICGLR/SADC Summit Luanda, Angola, to ensure that military action against the FDLR is removed from the region’s agenda, thus contradicting the Security Council Resolutions mentioned above and the recent press statement by this Council.

Madam President,

Given the background I have just provided, I have several questions to ask to all of us. Why, twenty years after our collective resolve of the abused word “Never Again”, is the Security Council still struggling to find a lasting solution to a negative force whose leaders and members are among the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi? Why, instead of addressing the main root cause of insecurity in eastern DRC, has the Security Council, which comprises of at least five countries that have the required background on this situation, preferred to manage this insecurity and focus on the consequences of the FDLR presence in eastern DRC? Why can’t the Security Council follow-up on the implementation of multiple resolutions it has itself adopted and hold accountable a UN Force it has established, and to which it has provided a clear mandate and a consequential budget?

I believe that these questions, Madame President, are legitimate, not only from a Rwandan or regional perspective, but also from a broad perspective of the maintenance of international peace and security and of our responsibility to protect. In this regard, it would be unfortunate if the Council would spend the next twenty years in dealing with the FDLR and its consequences for the DRC and the region. Indeed, beyond the absolute need to restore peace and security in our region, this collective inaction also further undermines the credibility of this Council.

Despite this dark picture, Madame President, let me conclude on an optimistic note. As the deadline given to the FDLR is fast approaching, I am nonetheless convinced that the overall momentum for peace, security and cooperation in the Great Lakes Region is so strong that it would eventually enable MONUSCO/FIB, under the supervision of this Council, to live up to our collective expectation of a secure and stable Great Lakes Region, free of armed groups, including the last genocidal movement on the continent.

I thank you.

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

Madame President,

I thank you for convening this meeting. I also thank Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, and Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, for their respective briefings on the political and human rights situation in Ukraine.

Since February this year, the Security Council was seized with the conflict in Ukraine which, few months later, has killed more than 3,700 people, wounded more than 9,000 civilians and drove more than 824,000 Ukrainians out of their homes, including over 430,000 internally displaced. The position of Rwanda is clear and constant. It revolves around three key principles. First, end of hostilities and respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine; second, need for a genuine dialogue among Ukrainians, aimed at fostering national reconciliation, establishing self-governance and promoting rights for minorities; and third, need for a diplomatic settlement to this crisis, involving countries and organizations of the region.

It’s in this context that Rwanda welcomed the signing of the Twelve-point Minsk Protocol Agreement on 5 September 2014, which declared ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, as well as its implementation’s Memorandum of 19 September. We note with satisfaction the steps already taken by President Petro Poroshenko and the Ukrainian Parliament to implement both agreements, mainly the implementation of the ceasefire, the exchange of the detainees, as well as the adoption of laws on amnesty and on self-governance. In this regard, we believe that the parliamentary elections of this Sunday will help implementing those agreements, as they are critical to consolidate democracy, diversity and the rule of law in Ukraine. We are however concerned at the inflammatory statements of armed separatists against those elections and we recall that only elections organized by the legitimate government in Kiev will be constitutional and in line with the Minsk Agreements.

While the ceasefire, although fragile, had raised hope for peace in Ukraine, we are concerned by the statement of the Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic”, officially declaring the end of the ceasefire, which followed regular violations by armed separatists. In this context, we reiterate our call on all illegal armed groups, mainly in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, to lay down their arms; and we urge the Trilateral Contact Group to use its influence to ensure that the work of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission is not hindered and that the Minsk Protocol is fully respected.

 

Madame President,

Rwanda is deeply troubled by the findings of the sixth monthly report of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU). We condemn the continued terror activities of armed groups in areas under their control, where they pursued killings, abductions, torture, ill-treatment and other serious human rights abuses, including destruction of housing and seizure of property. We equally condemn the violations of international human rights law by some of the volunteer battalions, under the control of the Government of Ukraine. Furthermore, we raise our concern over the use of heavy weaponry and indiscriminate shelling of densely populated areas, including the reported use of cluster munitions. On this last allegation, and in light of the response of the Ukrainian Government, which denied the use of those illegal munitions, we hope that a full, thorough and independent investigations will be conducted to shed light on this allegation.

But more generally, given this dark picture of the human rights situation in Ukraine, Rwanda urges all warring parties to comply with the international humanitarian and human rights law. We welcome the commitment of the Ukrainian government to investigate the reported human rights violations, including on the discovered mass graves, and we stress that the perpetrators, including those who bear the command responsibility, should be held accountable.

Let me conclude, Madam President, by noting that, with the ongoing fighting, the winter season fast approaching and the current shortage of gas in Ukraine, the eastern part of the country is heading towards a humanitarian catastrophe. We therefore call on the political leaders in Ukraine and those who have influence on them, to show leadership and responsibility by making sure that the ceasefire is upheld and by finding a lasting political and diplomatic solution to a crisis that has been going on for too long.

I thank you.