Rwanda Statement on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. Third Committee, 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly.



Human rights are meant to ensure the inherent human dignity and equality of all human beings. From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the international community has built a great foundation of human rights law. We must continue these efforts to ensure and enhance promotion and protection of all human rights, including by creating necessary safeguards against new and contemporary manifestations of discrimination, injustices and obstacles to the full realization of all human rights.

In the twenty-three years since the Genocide against the Tutsi, the Government and people of Rwanda have embarked upon a path of reconciliation, nation building, development and the consolidation of human rights and the rule of law. 


Rwanda’s Constitution is built on the principle of equal rights and equal treatment of all citizens and persons without any distinction. It guarantees fundamental rights and freedoms. Article 42 of our Constitution, states that “The promotion and protection of human rights is a responsibility of the State. A further forty-one articles are dedicated to the guarantees of fundamental human freedoms including all of the human rights stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Rwanda is a State Party to 8 core United Nations Human Rights Instruments and has ratified a number of optional protocols including the Optional Protocols to the Convention against Torture and to the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Rwanda is up to date in reporting on all of these Conventions to the relevant Treaty Bodies. Rwanda also issued a standing invitation to all UN Special Procedures and has welcomed a number of Special Procedures mandate holders.

The Rwanda National Commission for Human Rights, which is Rwanda’s Independent National Human Rights Institutions and enjoys a status under the Paris principles is tasked with the overall promotion and protection of human rights and advise the Government, Parliament and any other competent body on issues related to legislation and general compliance and implementation with international human rights instruments.

In addition, key institutions for the protection of human rights have been created such as the National Commission for Children, the National Council for Persons with Disabilities and the Rwanda Governance Board which is responsible for promoting good governance and for creating an enabling environment for civil society organisations and media.

In addition: a strident and determined civil society is playing an active role in assisting the victims of human rights in getting their grievances addressed, helping the government in shaping human rights compliant policies, fostering a culture of accountability and assisting in changing societal attitudes through awareness raising. Similarly, our independent judiciary and office of ombudsman, has taken wide ranging steps to guarantee protection of constitutional rights of all citizens.


In conclusion, Rwanda is committed to the observance of human rights as enshrined in the UDHR and the universality, interdependence, indivisibility of civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights. In that regard, Rwanda remains ready to continue its cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms and all stakeholders; further strengthen the UN’s human rights pillar including through; ensuring that it is able to prevent violations of human rights globally; implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals which seek to realize the human rights of all including through ensuring the right to development; and cooperate with all stakeholders in the promotion and protection of human rights in a transparent, impartial and non-politicized manner.

I thank you


Rwanda Statement at the Sixth Committee under Agenda Item 85: The Scope and Application of the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction

Mr. Chairman,
Thank you for this opportunity to speak on the application of the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction. Rwanda would like to align herself with the statement delivered on behalf of the Africa Group and that delivered by NAM.

Mr. Chairman
Let me begin by stating that the international criminal justice is in a crisis of credibility. As the 6th Committee sits, you all have seen the scandalous exposure of practice of corruption and political manipulation in the ICC. There are both political and legal dimensions to the principle of universal jurisdiction, and both dimensions deserve due consideration head on.
A number of speakers on the subject of the principle of universal jurisdiction demonstrated its great significance, both to the conduct of international law and to international relations in general. We would not challenge the legality of the principle, but it is void of abuse or misuse in its application, whether for political or any other ends.

Mr. Chairman
The principle had often been cited as vital to the fight against impunity; allow me to point out that- a large number of “key masterminds” of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda remains at liberty around the world, in the backyards of some countries, enjoying the impunity the principle was intended to end.
On the application of the principle: Rwanda believes in an International Justice system, based on equality of states, equality of all the people before the law; a system based on recognizable universal shared values. In that regard, Rwanda joins other delegations to reject political manipulations, double standards and excessive abuse in the application of this noble principle.

Mr. Chairman
The UN needs to face up the challenge caused by abusive application of the principle of universal jurisdiction: and below are our few thoughts;
1. There is need to strike the right balance to end the culture of impunity while at the same time establishing safe guards against the abuse of the principle of universal jurisdiction,
2. International arrest warrants should have a blessing of the Interpol to avoid partisan political manipulation. Bilateral relationship between States should not be taken as an excuse to flout Interpol’s position. In all circumstances the opinion of international police (Interpol), should be sought whether international arrest warrants should be issued on the basis of evidence available. Where Interpol itself has not issued or advised that international arrest warrants should be issued, no state should feel obliged to respect arrest warrants issued by individual judges from any UN member states.
3. There must be a system of review where by an aggrieved party can appeal to another judge or another tribunal to review the decision of a judge issuing indictments and/or international arrest warrants against the leaders of another country
4. The review process can be before a court of national, regional or international jurisdiction but certainly there must be a system of review such that no individual judge anywhere in the world should have unlimited powers to hold an independent and sovereign state at ransom for political or any other gain hiding behind universal or other perceived or assumed jurisdictional competence

While this review process is going on, individuals and States should be permitted to conduct their businesses normally until the review process is completed. Short of this, large and powerful states or political judges from those states may gag, stifle or swallow small nations or its entire leadership or both.

In conclusion let me re-state that Rwanda believes in a fair international legal order- based on shared universal values and mutual respect between States; a system where justice is not just about pretense but substance.
We will cooperate with any State or individual that will enhance a fair international legal order.

I thank you

Statement by H.E Valentine Rugwabiza at the UNSC Debate on Peace and Security in Africa: Enhancing African capacities in the areas of peace and security

Thank you Mr. President,

Rwanda congratulates you for assuming the Presidency of the Council for the month of July and for convening this debate on a subject of paramount importance to Africa.

I also thank the briefers, the UN Secretary-General H.E Antonio Guterres and the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui  for their earlier briefings.

Today’s threats to peace and security, worldwide and on our continent have become more complex and this calls for multi-faceted interventions and stronger partnerships with regional organizations.

The African Union is better positioned in terms of knowledge and proximity to mobilize and respond quickly to existing and new threats to peace and security. We believe that the UN and African Union framework for an enhanced partnership in peace and security, which was signed on 19th April, 2017 by the UN Secretary General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, provides the necessary framework for a much needed closer and more focused cooperation between the two organizations. It now needs to be institutionalized.

Mr. President,

Allow me to make specific recommendations on the issues being considered in our debate today.
First, Rwanda believes in the value of holding regular dialogue and consultations between the African Union and the UN Security Council on all conflicts on the continent. The information shared by both institutions during this dialogue, will, in our opinion increase the understanding of the context and the root causes of the conflicts and therefore help design adequate responses.

Second, Rwanda strongly recommends increased investment in the African Union capacities to intervene and respond effectively to warning signals with rapid interventions to protect civilians and prevent conflicts.

Often in conflict situations, the only credible prevention is rapid action. Enhancing African capacities in the areas of peace and security and more specifically to address the deficit in training, equipment and capacities of security institutions, will augment their ability to respond effectively to current and emerging threats.

Third, in post conflict situations, Rwanda recommends that investment in institutions’ capacities and inclusive governance systems be given priority in development cooperation.

Fourth, predictable and sustainable funding remains however a major challenge to the African Union ability to engage more effectively and use its comparative advantage to address conflicts and sustain peace on the continent.

To address this challenge, the African Union Summit decided at its 24th Ordinary Session held in Kigali in July 2016, to finance 25% of the African Union led peace support operations. The African Union Peace Fund, which was established by the African Union and the report of Dr. Kaberuka serves that purpose. Support to the African Union Peace Fund including access to UN assessed contributions will go a long way in ensuring predictable financing and contribute to the goal of ending conflicts in Africa.

The management structure and accountability as well as transparency systems built in the management of the African Union Peace Fund will ensure value for money. However, Rwanda knows by experience that the highest value for money lies in the millions of African lives that can be saved and protected from mass atrocities by enhancing Africa’s capabilities in peace and security.

None of the ambitious 17 SDGs of Agenda 2030 can be realized without peace and security. Therefore, increased investment in Africa’s capacities in the areas of peace and security are investments in the ensuring that Agenda 2030 leaves no one behind, including and mainly those affected by conflicts today.

I thank you for your kind attention.


Statement by H.E Valentine Rugwabiza Permanent Representative to the UN and Member of the Cabinet at the Security Council Open Debate on Women and Peace and Security: Sexual Violence in Conflict

Mr. President,

I thank you, Hon. Minister of Uruguay and your delegation for organizing this important open debate. I also thank Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, and USG, Mr. Adama Dieng, for their briefings. It is our hope that today’s debate will continue to mobilize collective action against this war crime given the alarmingly growing number of conflicts where sexual violence is used as a weapon of war and terrorism against civilian populations.

Sexual and Gender-based violence is not inevitable. The prevention of and protection from mass atrocities, including sexual violence is a primary state responsibility. As member states, it is our responsibility to put in place the normative and legal framework, enforcement measures to ensure zero tolerance to sexual violence in times of peace or war. However, as we all know, in times of conflict, the rule of law is broken. In such situations, it is our collective responsibility to ensure the protection of those targeted by sexual violence and most in need of protection during conflicts is guaranteed.

Mr.  President,

As situations of conflict continue to worsen in many places with women and children continuing to be the main target of sexual violence, all UN PK missions should have a robust mandate to protect civilians. The Kigali Principles on Protection of Civilians are an effective instrument towards that end. Protection of those in need should be given a priority by ensuring that we take full measures, to provide more effective protection to the civilian population at risk, to create the conditions for humanitarian assistance and to allow investigation of violations and abuses.

Rwanda believes that member states should systematically train all peacekeepers to address gender issues, prevent sexual violence, and protect individuals, including women and girls. Rwanda has operationalized a curriculum for all our troops and Police in the pre-deployment training that includes lessons related to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. In the same vein, we call other member states to boost women’s participation in each contingent and units, more specifically to include gender advisors, female officers, and the increased presence of female peacekeeping personnel in general. Rwanda meets the target of 15% females in all peacekeeping deployment contingents.

Sexual violence in conflict is a crime that we can eradicate. We strongly believe that our joint efforts can yield tangible results through a combination of preventive and responsive measures; targeted sanctions against all categories of perpetrators, monitoring and systematic reporting, assistance for the victims, empowerment of women and girls, increase of female peacekeepers and advisors and training of all forces in creating an environment of zero tolerance to sexual violence as a weapon of war. Rwanda will continue to support and work closely with the office of the SRSG on sexual violence in implementation of its mandate.

I thank you.


H.E. Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza, Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Member of Cabinet of the Government of Rwanda, at the 23rd Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi

Your Excellency Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Your Excellency Vice President of the United Nations General Assembly,
Excellencies, Permanent Representatives to the UN,
Dear Survivors, compatriots, and friends of Rwanda,

On behalf of the people and the Government of Rwanda, I want to thank you all for joining us at this 23rd Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi. Your presence means a lot to Rwanda. It is a mark of your respect for the dignity of the victims and the resilience of the survivors. I take this opportunity to thank the Department of Public Information for their cooperation in organising this annual commemoration.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

The purpose of the annual commemoration at the United Nations is to continue to raise awareness of the international community about our collective responsibility to prevent Genocide from happening anywhere in the world. We do so by honouring the memory of the victims; by renewing our resolve to fight the Genocide ideology and by sharing with the world what we have done in Rwanda to make “Never Again” a reality.

The annual commemoration also provides us with an opportunity to reflect on lessons learnt since the failure of the international community to prevent and stop the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. The theme for this year’s commemoration; “Remember the Genocide against the Tutsi – Fight Genocide Ideology – Build on Our Progress,” reminds us that the Genocide against the Tutsi was the result of a well-organised plan and ideology to exterminate all Tutsi. It also reminds us that the ideology didn’t stop with the end of the Genocide. Indeed, the denial, alteration, and distortion of the facts of Genocide are all well-known and documented mechanisms used by Genocide ideologues.

One of the mechanisms used by Genocide deniers is the use of deliberately confusing language. Whenever we refer to the Genocide against the Tutsi, historical clarity and the use of correct words are of critical importance. What we commemorate today is neither the Rwanda Genocide nor the 1994 Genocide. It is the Genocide against the Tutsi. Any other reference is inaccurate, misleading and wrong. Let us remember that the former International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda established by this very body concluded in its judgment on 2nd September 1998 that; “Genocide was, indeed, committed in Rwanda against the Tutsi as a group.”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We all know that the Genocide against the Tutsi was not inevitable yet it happened. The question to reflect on today is “Why?” Why those who had the responsibility and capability to prevent or stop it didn’t act? Why those in positions of influence and authority at the time, made the wrong decisions? Many elaborate explanations have been suggested to explain the failure of the international community to act and stop the Genocide against the Tutsi. The truth is much simpler; those who were invested by the Charter of the United Nations with the duty and responsibility to prevent and stop the Genocide against the Tutsi did not consider that the lives of those targeted mattered sufficiently to warrant their protection. If faced with a similar situation today, will they act differently? We can only hope so, and it is this hope that lessons have been learnt from our tragic History that informs our annual commemoration at the United Nations.

We pay special tribute to the Ghanaian contingent of peacekeepers in Rwanda in 1994 and to the late Captain Mbaye Diagne from Senegal. These fellow Africans refused the orders of the then UN leadership in New York to evacuate with the rest of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda and thus to abandon the victims to their fate. To them, the lives of those targeted mattered. These gallant sons and daughters of Africa demonstrated courage, empathy and a sense of responsibility that many others lacked.

In Rwanda, we have learned hard lessons from our tragic history. We have learned that Genocide ideology strives where its manifestations and expressions are tolerated. We have learned that hatred knows no borders. It is a poison that spreads where human rights violations are widespread with no accountability.

We also learnt that the most effective defense against Genocide ideology is our cohesion as a people and it is this lesson that informed our choices for unity, reconciliation and a governance system centered on the wellbeing and dignity of all Rwandans.

Rwanda today offers a story of hope; how a country and its people can stand strong in the face of adversity and together build a new and united nation. Through investing in our people and building institutions, we have delivered peace, security, opportunity and, more importantly, dignity for all Rwandans.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me conclude by thanking all of you again for your presence at the 23rd Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi. I thank in particular the survivors. Your strength and resilience remains a source of inspiration.

We also remain forever indebted to the Rwanda Defense Forces – men and women who, under the command of His Excellency President Paul Kagame, single-handedly stopped the Genocide against the Tutsis in July 1994. Without them, there wouldn’t be survivors like Sonia to tell their story.

I thank you.

(A moment of reflection at the 23rd Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi at the United Nations.)