Statement by Ambassador Eugène-Richard Gasana, Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations at the Meeting of Troop and Police Contributing countries on the Secretary General’s Zero Tolerance Policy on sexual Exploitation and Abuse

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,

Distinguished Delegates,

It is with great pleasure and conviction that I share with you today Rwanda’s stance and commitment to ending sexual exploitation and abuse in UN peacekeeping operations. I thank the Secretary-General for convening this urgent meeting to discuss and combat the sexual exploitation and abuse of any human being, particularly those affected by conflict and war. I am honoured to be here with each of you and look forward to the engaging discussions that are to follow.

Dear Colleagues,

The Government of the Republic of Rwanda is devoted to ensuring that as we deliver on our responsibility to protect, we protect with the utmost integrity the lives of those that we have been tasked to safeguard. The Kigali Principles, which resulted from the International Conference on the Protection of Civilians held earlier this year in Rwanda and continues to be endorsed by a growing number of troop and police contributing countries, have touched on this important issue by advancing the steps that must be taken to achieve a zero tolerance policy while at the same time underscoring the need to report on all human rights abuses.

Rwanda believes that all sexual violence and abuse are inadmissible and our military and judicial policies are a testament of this unyielding commitment to ending such abhorrent actions.  The Rwandan Defense Forces has an absolute zero tolerance for sexual indiscipline and we ensure that our forces receive thorough training that covers sexual exploitation and abuse, in which we use UN manuals as an additional reference. Judicially, the Rwandan penal code punishes all those found guilty of the crime, including peacekeepers operating internationally.

The truth of the matter, dear colleagues, is that these people are our people. We, troop and police contributing countries, must take urgent action by engaging with the Secretariat on the recommendations made by the Secretary-General in accordance with the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations’ report, which I thank the members of the Panel for their extraordinary work – it will undoubtedly improve peacekeeping operations.

Those of us, who have suffered the scourge of war, losing thousands as a result of extreme violence, must lead the way in ridding today’s conflicts of sexual exploitation and abuse. We can do our part to take direct and immediate action to hold our peacekeepers accountable for their conduct. However, we must also acknowledge and demand the support of the Secretariat and Security Council, which are paramount to preventing such abuse and furthering our success in implementing the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance policy.

Let me take this moment to advance Rwanda’s insights into the recommendations on sexual exploitation and abuse that the Secretary-General outlined in his implementation report. Calling into mind the shortfalls of the peacekeepers that have tainted the United Nations’ reputation, we wholeheartedly know that combating sexual exploitation and abuse begins long before our peacekeepers arrive to the mission area. Pre-deployment training on sexual exploitation and abuse can create a culture that does not tolerate any degree of abuse, as witnessed firsthand by Rwanda.

Another prevention tool is the Misconduct Tracking System proposed by the Secretary-General that vets personnel for prior misconduct. Vetting starts during the recruitment to join security forces and it continues throughout the progression of an officer’s career. However, there is room for growth in this area and as such we must work to implement a system that includes all categories of personnel, from individual officers to contingents and civilian staff members.

In regard to current responses to allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, numerous deficiencies exist that have poisoned the reputation and good deeds of our overall outstanding peacekeepers. One of these grave shortfalls is that investigations can take longer than expected – a time frame that is intolerable considering the pain and suffering endured by victims. We welcome the Secretary-General’s recommendation to address this and we are committed to doing our part to reduce this time frame but the greater task and responsibility lies with the Secretariat. This is undoubtedly an urgent call to the Secretariat to help reduce the administrative burdens that plague these investigations.

We can additionally remedy these shortfalls by continuing to empower women by further advocating for them and actively increasing their participation in peacekeeping operations. Rwanda takes tremendous pride in the women that have and currently serve as blue helmets.

Dear Colleagues,

As Member States, we must continue to report, prosecute and criminalize those who have been convicted of taking advantage of the most vulnerable: the women and children entangled in today’s conflicts. These efforts should also apply to those operating as non-UN personnel working under the Security Council mandate. It should also be expected that national and regional entities deploying outside of the UN mandate are held to the same standards as UN personnel, including independent investigations with the outcomes brought to the attention and action of the Security Council. Transparency, objectivity and accountability should define the Secretariat’s work when addressing this issue.

Dear Colleagues,

To conclude, let me say that the time to take immediate and effective action is now. We must all, individually and collectively, do what is in our means to enforce the zero tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse while also working towards eradicating its existence in peacekeeping operations. As we continue working within our capacity to strengthen all measures relating to sexual exploitation and abuse, we must also hold other stakeholders accountable. By working collectively we can eliminate past wrongdoings and re-focus our efforts on upholding the infinite acts of great courage undertaken by our peacekeepers, time and time again.

And may I additionally conclude with the following quote by Rabbi Elazar,”One who becomes compassionate to the cruel will ultimately become cruel to the compassionate.” We are here for the victims and although we are currently far from the regions where conflicts are taking place, we must acknowledge that it could be our daughters, our sons, our brothers, our mothers, our wives undergoing this. We will work towards naming those people that endanger their lives. Once again, these could be our children or our wives; not that I wish this upon you or anyone, but that we face these many, real truths.

Let us stand together to fight these heinous crimes.

Kigali Principles on Protection of Civilians

We,  the Troop and Police Contributing Countries, following the High level conference on Protection of Civilians held in Kigali, from 28th-28th May, 2015 under the theme ”Protection of Civilians through Peacekeeping: From mandates design to implementation”; bringing together top 30 Troop and Police contributing Countries, top 10 financial contributing countries and other stakeholders; and after deliberations on how to effectively implement the protection of civilians mandates in Peacekeeping Operations; pledge the following:

  1. To train all of our troops on 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; inter-positioning 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 T/PCCs could be placed in readiness in order to ensure rapid troop deployment, and encouraging the utilization of partnerships with regional organizations 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 T/PCCs 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.


Recommend that these principles be endorsed on voluntary basis; and that signatories meet once a year to discuss how to further improve the implementation of the mandate of protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping operations.



Joint Statement by the Governments of Italy, Netherlands, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Uruguay: the Inaugural Signatories to the Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians in Peacekeeping, September 2, 2015

Following a High Level International Conference on Protection of Civilians in Kigali in May, the governments of Rwanda, Italy, Netherlands, Uruguay and Uganda have agreed to a voluntary set of principles on the protection of civilians in peacekeeping.

The Kigali Principles establish that protection of civilians is the core function of peacekeeping and that effective protection of civilians requires properly trained troops, adequate equipment, and a strong political commitment.

The Kigali Principles represent a shared commitment by signatories to strengthen their efforts in peacekeeping operations to address the terrible plight that civilians continue to endure in armed conflicts. We call upon other significant troop- and police-contributing countries to join us in endorsing these principles to strengthen our collective efforts to eliminate suffering and advance conditions for peace around the world.

Statement by Minister of State in Charge of Cooperation, Eugene-Richard Gasana, at the presentation of the report on Peacebuilding Commission

Mr. President,

Allow me to extend my sincere thanks to Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota of Brazil, former chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) for his presentation of the PBC’s report on its eighth session. I also wish to thank him for his dedication and strong commitment as he led the work of the Commission during the year 2014. I also thank Ambassador Olof Skoog of Sweden, Chair of PBC, for his statement.

Rwanda would like to join others to note with appreciation reports of the PBC and the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), which provide a comprehensive analysis of progress made so far in the implementation of the recommendations of the 2010 review, as well as the continuing challenges that the Commission must address as it accompanies countries emerging from conflict.

The topics covered by the report before the Assembly today reflects the scope of these challenges. The Commission has thus emerged as the voice of our conscience calling for greater commitment and collective efforts to ensure that we live up to the expectations of peoples and societies aspiring for sustained peace and development.

Mr. President

My delegation would like to highlight the importance of building on the important areas of focus identified in 2014, namely: (1) the preparation for and convening of its first ever annual session in June this year; (2) the advance preparation for the 2015 review of the peacebuilding architecture; and (3) the mainstreaming of regional perspectives into the work of the Commission. We also note particular engagement of country-specific configurations through a continued focus on its three core functions.

We note with appreciation the Commission’s focus on, and engagement in countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. While the outbreak has had an impact on peace, security and development, the Commission has contributed to sustain international attention, which curtailed the spread of the outbreak, and minimized its impact, especially on peacebuilding-related gains in the affected countries.  Stakeholders, including the United Nations and international financial institutions, should maintain this momentum in order to sustain the recent gains towards a lasting solution to the crisis.

Mr. President

On resource mobilization, we call for the continued advocacy on behalf of the countries on the agenda and help underscore political and socio-economic progress to attract assistance and investments; as well as identify entry points to tap into the potentials of foundations, private sector and other non-traditional donors.

On country-specific configurations, we welcome the configuration’s engagement in Burundi, which oversaw the planning for the transfer of responsibilities from the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB) to the Government of Burundi and the United Nations country team; including intensified engagement with key regional partners, at a time when Burundi witnesses political tensions ahead of general elections. The visit undertaken in May last year by Ambassador Paul Seger of Switzerland, Chair of the Burundi configuration, to Rwanda and to the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Africa is commendable in this regard.

Mr. President

Mindful of the positive role of women in post-conflict reconstruction, Rwanda welcomed the Commission‘s consideration of the gender dimension in peacebuilding activities. We welcomed the recommendations from the special event held on 3rd September last year, under the theme “Women, everyday peacebuilders”. The Commission should promote regular events of that nature, not only in New York, but also in countries on its agenda, as well as with the relevant regional groupings.

On the working methods, we encourage the Commission to identify and document good practice of the past 10 years, including by encouraging cross-learning among configurations. We believe that, since 2005, the UN should have been able to identify a set of good practices and lessons learnt of how the support to national efforts to build and sustain peace can be more effective. Although there are positive developments in this regard, further progress is still needed.

Mr. President,

We hope that the ongoing review will provide an opportunity to address the broader landscape of UN response in post-conflict situations, and how the PBC, the PBF and PBSO’s roles and responsibilities can be adapted to strengthen such response. We also hope that the review would help reinforce efforts to promote a more effective and complementary relationship between the PBC and the main organs of the UN, mainly the General Assembly, the Security Council and ECOSOC. We encourage the Commission to continue to explore ways to strengthen the advisory function to and improve interaction with the Security Council; especially by convening periodic stock-taking meetings, at the expert level; as well as informal interactive dialogue among members of the Council and the Commission’s group of chairs .

From Rwanda’s experience as former coordinator of this stock-taking exercise, during our 2013-2014 term in the Security Council, it has allowed the Council to examine the scope of the Commission’s advisory function and the modality of interaction when countries are on the agenda of both bodies. It also allowed us to receive regular update from countries on the agenda.

I will conclude by saying a word on the report of the Peacebuilding Fund. We noted that in 2014, there was a significant increase of contributions compared to the level of 2013; and we thank the Member States and donors that have made this valuable contribution. We welcomed the General Assembly-mandated periodic review of the Peacebuilding Fund to guide the revision of the Fund’s business plan in 2014, and we hope that the PBF will be able to grow in size and scope in order to further strengthen its contribution to greater and more coherent UN contribution to peacebuilding in countries emerging from conflicts.

I thank you.




Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative, Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, at the CPD session

Madame President,

At the outset, let me take this opportunity to thank you for organizing this timely and important meeting.

Allow me to first acknowledge the 400 migrants who have perished in the Mediterranean Sea hoping to secure a better future for them and for their offspring. This should prompt us to take a moment to gauge why such tragedies are happening and commit to address issues affecting our populations to ensure the wellbeing of our people.  Rwanda hopes that this session will shed some light on some of the possible avenues to embark on in order to fulfill that noble objective.

Let me also state how delighted we are to participate in this important session and on behalf of the Government of Rwanda, I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his reports and findings; Rwanda reaffirms its commitment to a human centered agenda with a view to ensuring improvement and sustainability of quality of life to the current and succeeding generations.

As the session devoted to integrating population issues into sustainable development, including in the post 2015 development agenda, we consider this 48th session of the CPD as a critical opportunity to create enabling conditions to address the world’s population and development challenges so as to deploy all efforts to improve the lives of our people, with equity and dignity to ensure sustained economic growth and sustainable development for all.

Rwanda has taken to the center stage that sustainable development entails striking a balance between meeting the social, economic, and health needs of current and future generations and that our population dynamics influence prospects for sustainable development.  In our resolve to eradicate poverty and ensure a decent life for all, we are confronted with new challenges compelling us to rethink our way of doing business if we are to consolidate our gains.

In that regard, we have reinforced integration of population dynamics and the environment at all levels of development planning and programme implementation.  To achieve the above linkages, Rwanda has reformed and harmonized formal and non-formal education systems and curricula to ensure quality education that fosters innovation, development of productive skills, spirit of entrepreneurship, and visionary leadership that meets emerging needs, through ensuring universal enrolment, retention, and progression at primary, secondary and tertiary levels to close inequities relating to gender. Our goal is to ensure relevance of education that includes promoting technical, vocational education and training programs, making use of new information, communication technologies, research and Innovation and one that is applicable to current labour market trends and demands.

Rwanda would not have achieved a lot without a healthy society. In light of that, Rwanda embarked on operationalizing the health society by adopting equity and rights-based planning and resource-allocation, universal access to family planning and other reproductive health services, facilitating community participation in health decision-making and programming, and educating healthcare providers and communities on what the right to health means in service provision. More importantly, Rwanda provides universal health coverage through Mutuelle de santé.

With regard to human security, Rwanda has embarked on ensuring food security through strengthening agricultural productivity and livelihoods by supporting ecological agriculture and securing ownership of land especially for women, and strengthening capacities to adapt to climate change and related natural disasters.

In this regard, Rwanda believes that ensuring sustainable Gender equality and the empowerment of women in the post 2015 development agenda should be based on a comprehensive vision of gender equality, women’s rights and women empowerment.  This can be achieved through financing for gender equality and institutionalizing a gender-sensitive approach to public financial management, including gender-responsive budgeting across all sectors. Integrating financing for gender equality into the national planning processes with the adoption of a gender sensitive organic budget law is one way of ensuring that women are not left at the margins of the society.

On inclusive Economic Transformation, Rwanda is harnessing the Demographic Dividend by ensuring empowerment of women, investments in education and public health, and economic reforms that facilitate savings, investment and promotion of industries that reinforce value addition, create quality jobs, with particular attention to job creation and livelihood opportunities for men, women and youth and insuring financial inclusion for all. In light of that Rwanda has strengthened governance, political and economic systems that are grounded in the Human Rights framework, integrity and accountability in use of public resources and service delivery, inclusiveness and investment in human development. To further this important agenda, Rwanda has enacted policies that strengthen the capacity of communities to access, control and manage land and information, especially for women, youth and  persons with disabilities.

The impact of population dynamics on the micro and macro levels requires the integration of population dynamics into development planning at national, regional and international level. Evidence from my country indicates that Rwanda population has more than doubled between 1978 and 2014 from 4.8 million to 11.3 million projected in 2015 and a projected life expectancy at birth for 2015 of 65.7%  for males and 67.5% for females.

As Rwanda urbanizes, development challenges faced will require systematic participation of all stakeholders in crafting responses to that daunting situation. Considerable progress has been made to implement national priorities in line with the ICPD Programme. The Total fertility rate has decreased from 6.1 in 2005, to 4.6 in 2010 and down to 4.0 in 2012.  Child and maternal mortality has reduced and, progress was made on skilled birth attendance moving from 39% in 2005 to 69% in 2010.

In conclusion, our goal is to harness the Demographic Dividend to achieve sustainable development. Our government will simultaneously continue to invest in universal access to family planning and reproductive health services, public health, quality education, adopt economic policies that will create employment, and ensure accountable use of public funds.

I thank You!