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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!

Testimony by Frida Umuhoza, a survivor of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda

Annual commemoration of the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda (7 April) (organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI), in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Rwanda) - Remarks by Ms. Frida Umuhoza, survivor and author of "Frida: Chosen to Die, Destined to Live"

Annual commemoration of the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide Against the Tutsi  in Rwanda-
– Remarks by Ms. Frida Umuhoza, survivor and author of “Frida: Chosen to Die, Destined to Live”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was only 14 when the Genocide started. At the age of 6 I already knew I was a wrong tribe, Tutsi tribe.

I was not told by my parents that I was a Tutsi, but by my best friend who was 6 as well told me that we both were Tutsis since her grandfather had already been killed so, she knew who she was.

Every three months in our school the principal came in to count how many Hutu, Tutsi and batwa kids were in our classes. So, as children we knew who was who.

April, 1994 we had to leave our home since the killings had started and homes were being burnt or demolished. We run around trying to find a neighbor who would be compassionate enough to hide us. My father went his way, my mom and brothers went their way and my sister, my cousin and I were sent to a neighbor who refused to even have us, saying he did not want our blood in his hands.

After one month it was then said that the killing had stopped, but it was a lie. They lied to us so we could come back home and have us killed. We decided to then go back home, but my home was completely demolished. We then went to my grandfather’s house and found that grandfather was still alive then.
The following day my mother and my 3 brothers and 2 other little boys of my mom’s best friend came home too. My father who was still alive by then also came back. In the end we were 18 people in that house that was half demolished.

My father stayed hidden on the roof of our house. Few days after we had returned home, a lot of other people in that village had returned too. They then took all of us to the roadblock, when we got there we were asked to pay for a grenade since we were too cheap for a billet as they said. In my village, to be shot you had to pay 5000 francs, but we were too poor at that time to pay for own death.

Since we could not pay for a grenade and they said they were tied we were asked to go back home. Three days later we were then told by a young man who was a friend of my brother that they had a meeting about our day which was going to be on May 7th.

Early morning on that day children at our neighbors were crying, screaming and begging for mercy saying they will never be Tutsis again. The next turn was ours, a young man whom we knew well came in the room where we were hiding. He looked like had been killing, because he had blood on his clothes and on his machete. I think he had a little bit of compassion left in him too because he walked out when he saw how scared we all were.

He then lied to his group leader that we were not there anymore, but his leader refused to believe him. The leader came in himself and when he saw how many we were he mocked us and led us outside telling the young man that if he wanted to be forgiven of that crime of trying to hide us he will have to kill 10 of us.

We were then led to the ditch where we were to be burred. At that time my father was following all that was going on but did not come down. I have always believed that every little girl thinks and sees their own father as the strongest man; in my case during the Genocide the strength of my father was taken away by those who killed him and all I saw was the weak and fearful man.

Laying down in the ditch my grandfather tried to talk to our killers, begging them to let us go, but one guy jumped in the ditch and hit him with a club. It is at that moment that they all jumped in and started killing us all with their weapons.

My young brothers that were 11 and 9 years were screaming my little cousins too. I saw my mom’s head being chopped off, and when I saw blood I covered my face that is when a man I had chosen to kill me hit me at the back of my head with a club and I fell unconscious. I’m not sure how long I was unconscious for, but when I regained my consciousness they had already started burying us.

When I realized that they were burying, found out that I was bleeding from my nose, and hearing them talk as if nothing just happened made me then kept quiet because I thought that if they discovered that I was still alive they would pull me a side may be rape me and kill me so bad

Burred alive, hearing my aunt next to me taking her last breath as well as my 16 year old sister is an experience I will never forget.

For hours and hours in that shallow grave, trying to call for help and praying, in the end a lady that was not too far away heard my voice. She was so scared thinking it was a ghost since she knew it was just a grave, but hearing a voice coming out of it was strange and scary to her. She then run and told a young man of what she had heard and this young man pulled me out.

Right after I was pulled out I heard the men who had just killed my father (who offered himself to die after he watched what was done to his family) celebrating. My hope of seeing him, and surviving was even more destroyed.
The next day I had a chance of being hidden by a man who was Hutu. This man hid me until the RPF rescued us.

I then realized it was reality that I was all alone and that my whole family was gone. The Genocide was stopped by Rwandans, the RPF that had the courage to give their lives away for us. They fought hard to rescue us, and stop the saying “we will wipe all of them out to the point a stranger will ask what a Tutsi looked like”

It is the Rwandans themselves led by President H.E Paul Kagame that rescued the Rwanda of today.

As a survivor I went through all stages of a survivor. From being angry to the pain that have no words to express. But I choose not to be defined by pain, and I chose to be a better woman each day not bitter.

Telling my story, our story as survivors, is not to attract pity but to raise the awareness of what happened to us. And a million Tutsis that were lost within just a hundred days.

To tell our story is to fight the genocide ideology as it is this year’s theme.

The purpose of telling our story is fight the genocide denial for that is the last step of a genocide itself.

To tell our story is to remind the international community that saying never again is not enough, but acting upon it is what is necessary.

Finally encouraging my fellow survived to keep the hope within themselves and to not let the pain define who they are. To be able to preserve the dignity that was stolen from us, having the courage to work hard and keep moving forward.

That is my story and God bless you all of you.

Remarks by Nelly Mukazayire, Deputy Director of the Cabinet in the Office of the President, at the 22nd Commemoration of the Genocide Against the Tutsi at the UN

Remarks by Ms. Nelly Mukazayire, Deputy Director of the Cabinet in the Office of the President of Rwanda

Remarks by Ms. Nelly Mukazayire, Deputy Director of the Cabinet in the Office of the President of Rwanda

Excellency  Mr. Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General,
Excellency Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the United Nations General Assembly,
Excellency Mr. Eugène-Richard Gasana, Minister of State in Charge of Cooperation and Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations
Mr. Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Excellencies Permanent Representatives;

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;

Fellow Rwandans,

It is an honor to be here with you to mark the 22nd commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi under the Theme: Remembering the Genocide against the Tutsi, Fighting Genocide Ideology” Thank you for inviting me to speak.

For the next one hundred days of Kwibuka, Rwandans and friends around the world will remember and honour those we lost, and comfort those who survived.

We also pay tribute to Rwandans and our leadership for their courage, sacrifices and resilience that brought Rwanda back to life.

What many around the world witnessed, through newspapers and TV screens in 1994, was the result of decades of colonialism, and post-colonial leadership, that entrenched ethnic division, hate and discrimination.

  • One million, seventy four thousand, and seventeen people, brutally killed in one hundred days
  • Hundreds of thousands of orphans, widows, widowers, disabled people
  • Almost the entire surviving population internally displaced or refugees in Zaire, Burundi, Tanzania
  • Destroyed infrastructure: banks looted, schools and hospitals abandoned
  • Collapsed state institutions

This is the apocalypse that met the RPF liberation movement, that stopped the genocide. Rwandans felt abandoned during the genocide, and we were left alone to pick up the pieces. If I may recall some historical facts, today 11th April Belgian Peacekeepers withdraw from ETO school in Kicukiro, Kigali leaving 2000 Tutsi to be killed. Today, more than 100 Tutsi patients at Kigali Hospital were killed by Government soldiers.

If it wasn’t by the sacrifices of men and women lead by H.E our President Paul Kagame, there would be no Rwanda today.

The new post-genocide government, had to rebuild everything from scratch, including the hearts and minds, of a traumatized people.

The RPF led the creation of a Government of National Unity, that became the corner-stone of the rebuilding process. It was underpinned by the principles of  inclusion, fighting injustice, equal rights and opportunities for all Rwandans.

Being a child of a Genocide Perpetrator, my mother who is serving a life sentence in a Kigali prison, for her role during the Genocide, I am a result of that defying policy of equal rights and opportunities to all Rwandans and a living testimony of the new Rwanda.

In a complex post-Genocide environment, Rwandans have built an upright nation, where the child of a Genocide perpetrator and the child of a Genocide survivor, have equal access to education, health care, jobs, leadership position.

However, as much as the country’s politics sets the tone, the journey of healing and reconciliation requires a lot of every individual.

I was 12 years old when the Genocide happened. My two siblings and I lived with my father. During the whole period of Genocide, we had no idea where our mother was. My father knew but did not tell us because we were too young to understand and at our early age we thought our mother was dead.

The first time I learnt about my mother was in 1996. I was in the 2nd year of secondary school, when one of my fellow students showed me a newspaper article, with a picture of my mother, my name and names of our relatives.  The headline was: Famous Interahamwe Captured.

It was the worst day of my life. One day I was a survivor, child of a Tutsi father, who had lost his parents and relatives in the Genocide, and instantly I became a child of a Genocide Perpetrator!

I went through a series of difficult phases:

First came denial. I simply refused to believe it. I decided that my mother was dead.

But society wouldn’t let me forget. I lost most of my friends who were genocide survivors. To them I was a liar and a traitor. I faced rejection from all sides and lost identity.

Next came facing the reality and acceptance. I eventually realized, that I could not run from reality forever. Everywhere I went, my mother’s reputation preceded me.

Indeed no one can run from the truth forever! Be it individual or countries, you can try to attenuate the situation, call it different names, defend yourself but facts do not fade or dessapear… soon or later, one has to face them either as a victim then you embrace your history to build a brighter future or as an actor then you have to take responsibility and face consequences.

I decided to face the truth and started meeting my mother. It was tough and heart-breaking. I wanted to know the truth about what happened. At the same time, it was too much for me. There are things you never wish to hear from a parent, a mother.

It was only through our Rwanda’s unique homegrown solution to Justice and Reconciliation : Gacaca that I could find the truth.

Even though heavily and unfairly criticized, mainly by non-Rwandans, Gacaca facilitated healing.

  • Survivors got information about what happened to their relatives
  • They learned where victims bodies had been hidden and were able to rebury them in dignity
  • Perpetrators were given a platform to repent, ask for forgiveness and serve sentences with healed hearts

One million, six hundred and seventy eight thousand, six hundred and seventy two people Genocide suspects that were tried in the Gacaca courts, which closed in 2012 after running for 10 years.

  • And people like me, those related to perpetrators, and keen to know what exactly happened, finally found out the truth.

Gacaca helped me get the truth that I desperately needed, to be able to reopen my heart to my mother. There is no way to repair what she had done, and I will never understand the reasons behind her actions. But at the very least, I wanted to see if she would regret and repent before I could forgive her.

I was able to unburden myself of guilt and disassociate myself from her crimes.

As a born again Christian I experienced the power of forgiveness for healing and reconciliation. I forgave my mother and was able to visit her, take care of her with a healed heart and today I even  take my children to visit her. At the end of the day a Mother is a mother and ever irreplaceable. On the other hand she is accountable of her actions, she is serving her sentence with a healed heart and a peace of mind knowing that her childreeen live in country where : childreeen will never be responsible or held accountable of the crimes of their fathers or mothers.

As my President, Paul Kagame said: “We cannot turn the clock back nor can we undo the harm caused, but we have the power to determine the future, and to ensure that what happened never happens again.”

Today I am not proud of my mother’s actions but again I am not held by that shadow, I choose to leave it behind, set my own path, live my story.

I consider myself privileged to live in a country committed to rights and justice for all, in policy and practice.

As a young girl of 14 I exercised my rights to see my mother. For the last 20 years till today I have never been prevented from seeing my mother.

As a young woman, I have been able to study to advanced levels. I competed for positions in public service, and been evaluated based on merit. I worked for the Prime Minister and today, I am Deputy Chief of Staff of a great statesman, President Paul Kagame. This can only happen in a country that is committed to Human Rights without any discrimination.

Young Rwandans were once used to commit Genocide and destroy their own country. Today, the youth, 70% of our population, is active in rebuilding Rwanda.

“Never Again” is a principle we live by. We are redefining ourselves, through our dialogue in Ndi Umunyarwanda: I am Rwandan,  where we have restored our common identity as Rwandans. This came at a high price, men and women sacrificed their lives, Survivors had to go through painful moments of mourning their loved ones but also live with Genocide perpetrators next door, each one had to live with his/her wounds but also help one another to move forward and out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls. Having lost everything, coming back from chaos the only thing that matters to every one is to never go back and thus together we stand as one, in Unity beyond what the external world can Imagine.

We have decided to take responsibility for our well being, our dignity, our future. We strongly believe that no one can know better what is good for us and we are committed to take necessary actions, make necessary changes for a stable and prosperous Rwanda. If this requires that H.E Paul Kagame leads Rwanda for another 7 years, 10 years or 15 years, then let it be! He has proven to us Rwandans that HE cares and delivers. After all isn’t it that type o leadership that we all want?! The one that delivers!

You have been and will be told diverting stories by those who find you here or in your respective countries looking for protecting their own interests but that is not the reality about Rwanda, the reality we live on daily basis is this one, of an inclusive country,people with common identity, united for a life, a vision, a destiny.

As we work to transform Rwanda, we are fully aware that the struggle against Genocide ideology is a continuous one, one that requires regional and international partnership.

I wish to conclude by appreciating  efforts like this one that set a platform for people to hear from the other side, it’s an effort to be encouraged and even go beyond, come to Rwanda and get reality from the ground.

I thank my government, for creating and sustaining a new nation, where we can all be fearlessly and proudly 100% Rwandan and

I want to say thank you to all of our friends, who have been by our side in the last 22 years, supporting us in our journey of development, as well as in the fight against genocide denial.

To my fellow Rwandans, Ndagira nti: Mpore!I wish all of you strength and peace during Kwibuka and always.

I thank you.

Remarks by Minister of State in Charge of Cooperation, Eugene-Richard Gasana, at the 22nd Commemoration of the Genocide Against the Tutsi

Annual commemoration of the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide Against the Tutsi in RwandaYour Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations and Madam;

Your Excellency Mogens Lykketoft, President of the UN General Assembly and Madam,

Dear Malcom Hoenlein, Nelly and Frida,

Dear my sister Pauletta,

I also recognize the DSG,

Excellencies, Permanent Representatives to the UN;

Dear compatriots and friends of Rwanda;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Let me express my gratitude to the UN Department of Public Information for partnering with us to organize this annual event. I wish to particularly pay tribute to the UN Secretary-General for his continued support which will come a bit later for his continued support.

Each year we gather to remember the tragedy that left over 1 million Rwandans dead, killed for the “sin” of being a “Tutsi” and those slaughtered for opposing the killings of innocent women, men, and children. For 100 dark days, 10,000 people were brutally massacred on a daily basis, in full view of the international community.

22 years later, Rwandans are still mourning those we lost. It has been a difficult period for all of us, especially the survivors.  I want to thank all of you, on behalf of my Government and my fellow Rwandans, for your presence here today in supporting the Genocide Survivors, as we remember and pay tribute to the victims.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Honouring those who lost their lives has been smeared by those who indulge in genocide denial. Those who drive people to deny, trivialize, and even distort the figures of the killings. The latter continues to play out to this day, when 800,000 killings are cited, instead of 1 million. Another tactic used is to deflect attention and for perpetrators to rebrand themselves as heroes and not villains.

There are those claim that what happened in 1994 was not a genocide but a war. This attempt as we saw it after the Holocaust, is to seek to nullify, downplay and revise the perpetrators role.

There is also the proliferation of writings aimed at denying or trivializing the genocide, claiming freedom of speech but in reality, these are sheer expressions of hatred that attempt to incite people to overthrow the Rwandan Government and commit a second genocide.

Also with the rise of social media, the denialists have obtained another weapon, which allows anyone to pose as an expert. Such contributions are often a disguise for well-orchestrated campaigns of disinformation. You all know that it’s a tendency in today’s modern world that people will tend to believe those who shout loudest and this often include the most poorly informed and, more dangerously, those with a political agenda that underplays what they know to be false.

I am baffled that anyone can deny the numerous horrific stories that Rwandans have and I ask you to pause and reflect from the testimonies you just heard. Ms. Frida’s courage to come here today and recount all those painful memories is because she wants us to never forget. She is pleading with us, as many other survivors have done before her, to do what we can to guarantee “it never happens again.” She understands and still lives the pain first hand.

Ms. Nelly testimony reflects the resilience of Rwandans and their quest for a common goal of rebuilding a new united Rwanda. But constant hindrances remain, ranging from genocide ideology to wounds of genocide, ethnic based stereotypes. We must continue to work towards reconstructing the social fabric that has been broken.

Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen

Nelly and Frida’s testimonies are two moving accounts of humanity and resilience. Can you imagine being given the tasks of uniting such a multidimensional, complicated society? This is a perfect transition and insight into our President- Paul Kagame’s dedication to bringing peace and stability to Rwanda for we are all RWANDAN. He cultivates a culture where there is no Tutsi or Hutu or Twa. We are ONE.  One Rwanda. It is because of President Kagame why Nelly and Frida and many others including myself are able to tell our stories and live normal contented lives. Our gratitude to him is seen time and time again in overwhelming wish to keep him as our leader.

We Rwandans realized that he was and still is the only one who could mend the social fabric of our so savagely torn society while still having to develop a nation. President Kagame had to be gentle, intuitive locally and still be forceful and smart globally! As we all know Rwanda is a small landlocked country with very limited resources. After the genocide we needed a sustainable economy, quite frankly we just needed an economy and again President Paul Kagame did that for us.

I am here carrying his vision. When H.E President Paul Kagame, pronounced “never again should a genocide happen,” it was not only for Rwanda but for all of humanity. That is why, we have committed to actively participate in the maintenance of peace and security around the world by deploying peacekeepers to protect civilians from massacres. Our responsibility to protect has led us to be one of the top troop and police contributing countries to peacekeeping.

Ladies and Gentleman,

At a time when survivors’ wounds are still fresh, and many still look for the remains of their loved ones, we need an international community that is a partner and not a bystander! An international community that is willing to accompany us on this long and treacherous road of mending the hearts of those broken, and in our concerted and continuous efforts in reconciling, healing and rebuilding our nation.

A loud action in fighting genocide ideology would be for the UN senior officials and many of you here in the room today to reflect on the truth of what happened in 1994, particularly by using the correct terminology that is a “Genocide Against the Tutsi”. The terminology of “Rwandan genocide” or “Genocide in Rwanda”, has become a breeding ground for deniers of all kind, who argue that even the UN didn’t recognize any genocide against the Tutsi, to which it preferred genocide against all Rwandans, as such. Let’s call spade a spade, it was the Genocide Against the Tutsi.

This leads me to acknowledge the support of the Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Without fail during my tenure, the SG has never missed a commemoration. His support was certainly not just rhetoric; in his capacity as SG, he was rigorously committed to “Never Again”. In 2014 for the 20 year memorial, he journeyed to Kigali to attend services.  We were extremely appreciated. The SG embodies the phrase action speaks louder than words. As he wraps up his tenure, I want to publicly acknowledge H.E Ban Ki Moon’s accomplishments, feats, efforts and leadership that have moved mountains and our hearts.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I conclude by challenging all of you to be on guard for any attempts to suppress, distort or temper with the facts of our history. You should also fight any speech having to do with genocide ideology or genocide denial. From our bitter experience, we know that laws and speeches alone do not prevent injury, protect the vulnerable, or punish perpetrators. Constant vigilance and decisive action are needed to achieve our resolve to condemn and counter genocide ideology and genocide denial in order to prevent reoccurrence.

For Rwandans in the room with us today, always remember that despite what happened, we were able to get out of ashes to create one of the most secure countries across the globe where safety has bred a ground for fast development. We are a new Rwanda, and the spirit of Rwanda will never die. We have a leadership that believes in unity. It is paramount that this level of safety, peace and development be maintained, but it remains everyone’s responsibility, including the international community, to denounce anyone who would act negatively to take our country back to the dark days.

I thank you.

 

Statement by Minister of State in Charge of Cooperation, Eugene-Richard Gasana, at the UN General Assembly briefing on sexual exploitation and abuse involving international forces

Mr. President of the General Assembly,

Thank you for convening this important briefing. We are all gathered here today to once again denounce sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and although our participation in this chamber is a sign of our commitment to eradicating this virus from UN peacekeeping, we must take concrete action now. We are all aware that time is of essence and we can no longer afford to delay transparent, effective and thorough action when new allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse arise with far too similar traits and perpetrators. Many, Mr. President, question our credibility. Some have even dubbed us “the harbors of bad patterns.” These perceptions should drive us to look internally for the shortcomings that sustain the mechanisms that no longer serve us, as we work to uphold the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance policy. We also welcome his recent appointment of Jane Holl Lute, as Special Coordinator on improving the UN’s response to sexual exploitation and abuse.

Mr. President,

The way forward must be paved with several key actions that target the roots causes of sexual exploitation and abuse. Firstly, we must all concede that sexual exploitation and abuse is also a grave human rights violation. We must steer clear from only seeing it as a disciplinary matter. Secondly, current UN policies fall short of wholly protecting victims of sexual exploitation and abuse, particularly if the alleged perpetrators are non-UN forces mandated by the Security Council to aid in peacekeeping. The recent reports on sexual exploitation and abuse in the Central African Republic (CAR) affirm the pervasiveness of this crime and the subsequent lack of accountability. In these reports we see the same countries being accused of the same crimes. How is this possible?

 

The degree of bestiality of these acts is escalating, which makes the public believe that the accused must be enjoying immunity. Accountability is porous and designed for a select few. This should not be the case. Peacekeepers of troop contributing countries and non-UN forces should all be denounced and face justice. The fact that non-UN forces are not under UN command egregiously hampers our ability to hold all perpetrators accountable. The C-34 Report for the 2016 substantive session calls for non-UN forces to immediately report allegations of human rights violations and sexual exploitation and abuse while also requesting for the appropriate steps be taken to investigate the allegations. The implementation of these measures along with those outlined in Resolution 2272 will rid our system of double standards, hold all peacekeepers to the highest standards of conduct, and put to rest political and bureaucratic motives that breed inaction.

Thirdly, a cultural shift within the UN system is needed in order for real change to take hold. It must be impressed upon all that sexual exploitation and abuse is a system-wide core responsibility. Each department, agency and representative of the UN should understand and own their role in ensuring perpetrators are held accountable and victims receive the assistance they deserve. The UN mechanisms for fighting sexual exploitation and abuse must be strengthened by this unwavering conviction.

Fourthly and consequently, we must close the gap on accountability for it undermines all of our efforts and is a complete dishonor to the victims that had the courage to come forward and share their truths. The lack of accountability extends far beyond the field, past mission leadership, residing in the reports and bureaucratic disarray of the Secretariat. We, the troop and police contributing countries, must also do our parts in timely investigating and prosecuting all credible allegations while simultaneously informing the Secretariat and other relevant parties about the prosecutorial developments, with the ultimate goal of recovering the trust between the UN and the civilians we have been tasked to protect.

Fifthly, we must guarantee that all peacekeepers have undergone adequate training on sexual exploitation and abuse. Such training can not only deter peacekeepers from partaking in such heinous crimes, but also equip them with the knowledge to identify situations that could spiral into future cases of sexual exploitation and abuse. This alertness can significantly impact our missions, strengthening our efforts on all fronts. In Rwanda, our training on sexual exploitation and abuse is coupled with the deployment of a legal advisor and investigator for each infantry battalion serving on the ground. We have deployed these experts since 2011 and found significant gains in their deployment.

Mr. President,

As one of the largest troop and police contributing countries, we do not tread lightly on this matter and furthermore, we align ourselves with those seeking to improve this organization’s response to allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse. For this reason and many more, we, along with other top troop contributing countries and protection of civilian (POC) stakeholders, developed the Kigali Principles in May of 2015. These principles set the benchmark for effective peacekeeping by focusing on the protection of civilians, which includes human rights violations as grave as sexual exploitation and abuse. We ask you to join us in upholding these principles.

Mr. President,

The systematic sexual exploitation and abuse that plagues our peacekeeping efforts must come to an end. The reports that have come out of the Central African Republic are enough to keep us awake at night. What if these victims were your sisters? Your daughters? Your mothers? We must work feverishly to change the mechanisms that have welcomed silence and fostered the deplorable acts of sexual exploitation and abuse that are not representative of us, nor the legacy we strive to leave behind.

I thank you.