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Statement by Minister of State in Charge of Cooperation, Hon. Eugene-Richard Gasana, at the UN Security Council debate on the Great Lakes region.

 

Mr. President,

I thank you Mr President and your delegation for organizing this important debate on conflict prevention and resolution in the Great Lakes region of Africa, and for the concept note you circulated among member states.

I also thank the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, for his briefing. His presence here today once again highlights his commitment to conflict prevention and resolution particularly in our region. I also welcome the briefings from the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Mr. Smail Chergui, from the UN Secretary-General Envoy to the Great Lakes Region Mr. Saidi Djinnit and Mr. Vijay Pillai from the Office of the ice President, Africa Region, World Bank.

Mr. President,

Although conflict prevention and resolution has become the centerpiece in the work of the United Nations, in the wake of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, increasing intrastate conflicts in DRC, Burundi, Central African Republic, and South Sudan, the concept of “conflict prevention” has been more in theory than in practice. The UN, especially the Security Council, was and still is, much more focused on crisis management rather than crisis prevention.

The report of the High level Independent Panel on Peace Operations as well as the recommendations of the Secretary General rightly acknowledge the primacy of politics, with focus on mediation and conflict prevention. At the same time, they recognize, among other equally important tools, the usefulness of strong global-regional partnerships in addressing conflicts. Working together with the region in assessing the situation to the implementation of decisions of the Security Council can also help in addressing as early as possible sources of conflicts. These principles that we do strongly support, will not bear any fruit if they are not implemented in good faith, with a cohesive, inclusive and effective strategy, bringing on board all stakeholders.

That is why; early warning mechanisms should be guiding the work of the Security Council in preventing conflict to arise. This can not only improve the work of the UN and the Security Council in particular, but it can also be cost effective when it comes to saving lives.

Mr. President,

The situation in the Great Lakes of Africa speaks for itself. This is a region that has been in turmoil since the 1950s. While various unsuccessful efforts have been deployed, very few of them were aimed at addressing the root causes of these crises. For instance, the Peace and Security Cooperation Framework in the DRC and the Peace process in Burundi created hopes that the epoch of violence in the African Great Lakes region was finally drawing to an end. Progress in these initiatives has however been limited, if not disappointing.

Mr. President,

If we speak of the current situation in Burundi, since May last year, political and security unrest in the country have proven that the Great Lakes region is far from being stable. Burundi is in political turmoil; with state- sponsored militias armed and innocent civilians being murdered in broad daylight. Moreover, the unverified allegations from the two empty paragraphs of the report of the Group of Experts on DRC and the rumors from the Refugee International seek to externalize the responsibility to the current conflict and is another failed attempt to shift focus away from the real causes of the instability

Rwanda readily shoulders its obligations to protect and care for refugees. While my government is committed to meet its obligations under international humanitarian law, it should not however be negatively exploited by those who are expected to find solution to this crisis

The fact that Burundi has now descended into a spiral of violence has not helped make the case for our collective ability and will to prevent conflict, as well as in protecting civilians. The response from the International community has been more of rhetorical exchanges than actions aimed at preventing the escalation and the commission of mass atrocity crimes.

The response from the Burundian officials hasn’t been better either. Instead of exercising leadership and living up to their responsibilities and obligations to protect their own citizens, they have opted to turn the blind eye to innocent civilians being killed daily, and the carnage continues.

On our side, to avoid, Mr President, of any misunderstandings of our intention, we have requested the international community to work with us in planning the orderly and safe relocation of Burundi refugees to 3rd countries.

Let me just add that hatred rhetoric against my country, against my President are [ facing Alain Nyamitwe,..Sir unacceptable. He is our Hero, don’t ever dare, ever treat him that way]

Mr. President,

Moving on to the situation in the DRC, the persistent presence of the roaming predators in the name of the FDLR in eastern DRC and in Burundi; and the inaction by MONUSCO in implementing decisions of the UN Security Council and those of the ICGLR-SADC raise serious concerns of commitment of stakeholders to see sustainable peace and stability in the region. While we welcome the transfer of Ladislas Ntaganzwa yesterday from the DRC, we can only note nothing tangible has been achieved so far on the ground when it comes to dealing with FDLR. Rwanda deeply deplores the lack of meaningful action in the neutralization of this genocidaire group and terrorist organization, including its leadership. It is unfortunate that, the international community, especially MONUSCO and its Force Intervention Brigade, didn’t follow through with any military action, after the defeat of M23, as provided by the region and the UN Security Council. While we were in the Security Council, we vote for this resolution.

Mr. President

Your concept note for this open debate also highlighted the linkage between natural resources and forces of destabilization and conflict. Without doubt, natural resources have been a backbone of the endowed Countries to advance their development agenda and lift their citizens out of poverty. In some parts of the world including the Great Lakes Region of Africa, these resources have been a blessing for some and a curse for others.  Many countries remain in abject poverty, experience poor economic growth and consequently a lower standard of living.  The argument that the more resources a country has will lead to increased economic growth and prosperity does not hold true when it comes to my region.

Illegal exploitation of resources can be a factor in prolonging and in some cases fueling conflicts both in the areas of exploitation and in some cases across borders of neighboring Countries. In our region, armed groups such as ADF, Mai Mai, LRA and the genocidaire group, FDLR, have benefited from illegal exploitation of resources in DRC to cause insecurity to neighboring countries, including my own country.

The Government of Rwanda has set up verification mechanisms that help identify origins of mineral resources on its territory. Rwanda is one of the most advanced countries in the region in the implementation of the ICGLR certification mechanism, as demonstrated by the meeting of the ICGLR held in Kigali in November 2015. The country’s Geology and Mines Authority (OGMR), has set up a mineral tagging and sealing scheme which aims to curb the illegal trading of “conflict minerals” such as tin, tantalum and tantalite.  This project is called iTSCi (ITRI Tin Supply Chain Initiative) was set up by UK tin industry to assist countries in the region, and the Government of Rwanda ensures that minerals from Rwanda are verified and traceable right from their source to smelters.  We encourage countries in the region to adopt similar measures, which will contribute to the transparent of mineral trading in the region.

Before I conclude Mr. President, allow me to respond to H.E Ambassador Samantha Power remarks with regard to her analysis of the situation in four countries of the region, including my own. I hope that she is watching this on webcast, if not, please (addressing the US Representative), convey this message of Rwanda.

First of all, I think and I hope she does not confuse her name with her assignment. Mrs. Power does not have power over Rwanda!

In reaction to her remarks, we need first of all to caution her in lumping together the approaches of the four countries as there is no one size fit all solution in responding to the challenges the region is confronted with.

While we commend her remarks as to the positive trajectory achieved by Rwanda in economic and social fields and in Rwanda playing a key role in maintaining peace and security in the international arena, there is a need to emphasize that Rwanda’ achievements did not occur in a vacuum.

Indeed, the success Rwanda encountered stemmed from many factors including good governance and an enlightened leadership led by his Excellency President Paul Kagame that put together solutions tailored to the Rwanda situation in the immediate aftermath of the genocide against the Tutsi. [Yes, if he was not there, I would be here today talking to you. My grandparents were refugees, my parents were refugees, I was born as a refugee; and luckily, he went back home and stopped the Genocide, and luckily, I went back home too. And you were all here, the Security Council, in 1994; tens of thousands being killed; what have you done? Nothing! We want this man there, he was the only one to take his responsibility…and stop the genocide; he is our hero. So we will never ever accept whoever try to deny what the Rwandans want to achieve, or what is the choice of Rwanda.

Drawing from the bad politics that led to the Genocide, it was imperative for the Rwandan people to build on a culture of ongoing dialogue with all citizens of Rwanda so as to enable them to have a voice, participate and redress any attempt of hampering their wellbeing and the opportunity to claim their rights when they feel that their leaders are not responsible to their plights.

With that approach, pluralism has been deepened in a consensual democracy whereby citizens-led consultations have yielded tangible results in mending the social fabric and in addressing all issues of concern.

Mr. President

Indeed, citizens of Rwanda have been afforded with numerous platforms to convey their views and concerns. Indeed, Rwanda understood as a vital element that the only way to consolidate gains was staying connected through a participatory democracy enabling people to have a voice in all matters concerning their well-being. That well-tested system has prompted the people of Rwanda to opt massively to keep their president at the helm of the nation. So if, as Ms Samantha well stated, that over the past 25 years, Rwanda has made the most progress in the world in term of Human Development, did it come out of the blue? No, it is through his leadership. We know what is good for Rwanda and for Rwandans. You don’t need to agree with us, but you can respect our choices. There are some of the things we might disagree with your country, but there is nothing we can do about it. We leave it to you. You want somehow to occupy our political space; no one will ever occupy our political space; it belongs to Rwandans, and only to Rwandans. If your leaders well stated that democracy was for the people and by the people, then please, let the people of Rwanda have their own choice

Ensuring peace and stability of a country without taking into account the political, economic, historical factors would be mere exercise that would lead nowhere. We in Rwanda came to the realization that it has to be an ongoing process of education and dialogue with the people and cannot be at all means a cut and paste exercise from one country to the other and cannot follow the same pattern as issues are unique to any country.

In conclusion Mr President, let me reiterate my call for the Security Council to shift from a culture of reaction to one of prevention. Indeed, with unfolding events in Burundi, and elsewhere, it is inevitable for the Security Council to improve its record in fully understanding early warning signs of conflict and responding through early action, if it has to remain relevant.

While there has been a huge increase in the level of international preventive diplomacy and diplomatic peacemaking, for the most part by the United Nations, and more recently in partnership with regional organizations, these efforts will remain inadequate if they are not followed up by concrete actions on the ground.

I thank you for your attention

 

Statement by First Counsellor, Sana Maboneza, at the UN Security Council briefing on UN Peacekeeping operations: sexual exploitation and sexual abuse

Mr President,

It is with conviction that I share with you today Rwanda’s stance and commitment to ending sexual exploitation and abuse in UN peacekeeping operations. I thank you Mr President for convening this important meeting, and I thank also the Secretary-General for his briefing. We take note of the recommendations as contained in his report on the Sexual Exploitation and Abuse  to the General Assembly and we hope that all Member States, and in particular  the Troops Contributing Countries will have the opportunity to share their views in this regard. We take also this opportunity to commend the Secretary General efforts in combating the sexual exploitation and abuse.

Mr President,

Rwanda is more than committed 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 on the Protection of Civilians has 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 unacceptable and our military and judicial policies are a strong testament of this commitment to ending such abhorrent actions.  Let me be clear: One case is just unacceptable in our view. And it should not be tolerated. The protectors should not be perpetrators. There is no justification of whatsoever on the case of sexual exploitation and abuse. And any case of allegation should be reported, investigated and legal actions taken against the alleged perpetrators.

Mr President

Combating sexual exploitation and abuse begins long before peacekeepers arrive to the mission area. Discipline, code of conduct, anchored in our culture and within national jurisdiction is paramount in preventing, fighting and eradicating sexual exploitation and abuse, that at the end, undermine the credibility of peacekeepers who are doing tremendous job in different missions, including paying ultimate sacrifice.

My country has an absolute zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse; we ensure that our troops and police 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.

My Government has committed to combat sexual exploitation and abuse, including the deployment of one Legal Advisor and one investigator in each battalion of our contingents deployed in UN Peacekeeping missions since 2011.

One of the key elements in combating sexual exploitation and abuse is also the Pre-deployment training on sexual exploitation and abuse which can create a culture that does not tolerate any degree of abuse, as witnessed firsthand by Rwanda.

In the case of Rwanda as mentioned in the SG report, it cites three inquiries into inappropriate relationships between adult women and Rwandan police officers formerly serving in MINUSTAH. These allegations represent a serious violation of the Rwanda Government policy. Investigations have been ongoing and administrative measures have been taken while waiting for the completion of the investigations.

Mr President,

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 victims are our mothers, sisters and daughters. 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.

In addition to descriptive obligations of TCC, there is a greater need of regular interaction between the Secretariat and the TCC when it comes to investigations and update from both sides is therefore necessary before the release of the report. Most often, the Secretariat does not consult member States and yet we have cases that have been investigated and legal actions taken which are not included in the report.

At the same time, non-criminal policy violations should not divert attention from, or dilute responsibility for numerous unresolved cases of rape and child abuse by peacekeeping forces.

We call upon the United Nations and troop contributing countries to remain focused on accountability for these heinous crimes.

Mr President

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 and in transparency, 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.

I thank you

 

Hon. Minister of State in Charge of Cooperation, Eugene Richard Gasana, on the report of the Secretary-General on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse

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New York, 4 March, 2016
Rwanda takes note of the Report of the Secretary-General on Special Measures for Protection
from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse.
The report cites three inquiries into inappropriate relationships between adult women and Rwandan police officers formerly serving in MINUSTAH. These allegations would represent a serious violation of United Nations and Rwanda Government policy. Investigations have been ongoing and once complete, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.
At the same time, non-criminal policy violations should not divert attention from, or dilute responsibility for numerous unresolved cases of rape and child abuse by peacekeeping forces.
We call upon the United Nations and troop contributing countries to remain focused on accountability for these heinous crimes.

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative, Jeanne d’Arc Byaje at the 54th session of the Commission for Social Development

Mr. Chair,

Allow me to join others in congratulating you on your election to the chairmanship of the Bureau of this important Commission and to commend you on the way you are conducting its proceedings.

We thank the Secretary-General for his thorough report on the priority theme.

Rwanda aligns itself with the statements delivered by the Permanent Representatives of Thailand and of Swaziland on behalf of the G77 and China and the African Group respectively.

At the outset, let’s all recognize 2015 as a landmark year whose multiple outcomes opened our eyes to a daunting reality that needed redress, reminding us that Business as usual was no longer an option if we are to build sustainably the future we want.  Starting with the Sendai Framework that revealed how disaster-prone the world has become mainly due to climate change and culminating with a binding instrument with the Paris Agreement on climate change, the adoption of two other major outcomes namely the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development afforded us with the means and tools to achieve sustainable development.  Equipped with those instruments, it is now our informed choices in using effectively the invaluable resources they contain that will determine the course of our trajectory and how prepared and ready we are to meet our goals and targets to impact positively our people and planet.

Mr. Chair,

At the threshold of the implementation of the global goals, it would be opportune to draw from the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action that recognized the significance of social development and human wellbeing for all as the highest priority. Social development will therefore play a crucial role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda of sustainable development, as it is central to achieving the overarching goal of eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions.

In this world marked by frequent economic crises and natural disasters as well as recurrent conflicts, some key enablers are vital to boost social development if we are to ensure sustained inclusive economic growth and resilience to external shocks.

In light of the above, today’s assessment of Rwanda’s remarkable achievements in social development from a huge deficit caused by the genocide against the Tutsi that left a shattered nation, gives us reason to believe in a brighter sustainable future for our people.

Indeed, the road to recovery was tough but it deserves accolades and praise given that Rwanda was hit in what constituted its major asset: its “People” from which more than a million lives were lost and more than 2 million forced into exile by the genocide perpetrators.

The MDGs were adopted in 2000 while Rwanda was still battling its devastating effects and trying to cope with the huge humanitarian crisis and human deficit. In its Vision 2020, meeting the social, economic, and health needs of the people emerged as a major priority that would have a great impact on social development and influence prospects for sustainable development.

The adopted universal and transformational 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that places People at the centre goes in line with Rwanda Vision 2020 and articulates key enablers that would drive social development.

First, on improving social progress and allowing sustainable development to forge ahead, Rwanda set up, as a matter of urgency, to put in place strong institutions and build capacities while enabling a sound economic policy that promotes inclusive and sustained growth allowing citizens participation and involvement in their own development. From that premise, Rwanda believes that empowering its people by maximizing their capacities and capabilities would give them opportunities to become productive citizens and enable them to lead a dignified life.

To achieve social development sustainably would also require striking the balance between the social, economic and environmental dimensions while being mindful of bridging the inequality gap and reaching out to the most vulnerable to address the root causes of poverty. In so doing, Rwanda views the following as key avenues to tackle inequities and allow social development to thrive;

First, on top of offering universal access to12Y basic education free and compulsory, Rwanda focuses mainly on ensuring quality education that fosters innovation, development of productive skills, spirit of entrepreneurship, and visionary leadership that meets emerging trends, through ensuring retention, and progression at primary, secondary and tertiary levels to close inequities relating to gender. Insuring relevance of education would also require promoting technical, vocational education and training programs and making use of new information, communication technologies to meet the demands of the current labour market.

Secondly, with regard to human security, Rwanda has afforded its citizens access to universal health coverage and ensured food security through enhancing agricultural productivity, food production process and livelihoods by supporting ecological agriculture and securing ownership of land especially to women and smallholder family farmers while strengthening capacities to adapt to climate change and related natural disasters.

On inclusive Economic Transformation and promotion of productive employment and decent work for all, 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 increasing productivity for workers in informal sector, the self employed and agricultural workers especially women and youth.

As for social inclusion and inclusive development geared at leaving no one behind, social inclusion and broad-based socioeconomic policies have been put in place to meet the needs of vulnerable people including genocide survivors, orphans, persons with disabilities and the elderly who benefit from social security in cash payment and help in kind with programs such as the Girinka program (one cow per poor family). In addition, Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme, an Integrated Local Development Program to Accelerate Poverty Eradication, Rural Growth, and Social Protection, launched by the Government, targets the eradication of extreme poverty by 2020 for the most vulnerable groups. It is not a coincidence if Rwanda saw 1 million of its people lifted from poverty in a 5-year-span and 660 000 more in the last 3 years only.

In light of the above, 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 as well as 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.

In addition, 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 levels due to the imperative of population growth and its youthful nature as our population has more than doubled from 4.8 million in 1978 to reach close to 12 million currently.

In conclusion, Rwanda is of the view that addressing development challenges requires systematic participation of all stakeholders. Rwanda notes the importance of forging new partnership and in mobilizing additional resources domestically if we are to build a more equitable model of development, combining sustained economic growth with poverty reduction and social inclusion.

Finally, to set new standards and score social and economic gains for the future, our expectations lie in the private sector playing a critical role in addressing the social development’s major shortcomings by undertaking large investments either alone or in partnership with governments. We remain hopeful in our effort to continue to build a safer, more prosperous and equitable future for our people.

I thank you!

 

Statement by Minister of State in Charge of Cooperation, Eugene-Richard Gasana, at the UN Security Council open debate on protection of civilians

I would like to join others in thanking you, Honorable Minister, and your delegation, for organizing this important debate.

I would also like to express my appreciation to Deputy Secretary-General Jan Elliasson for his briefing, which reaffirms his unwavering commitment to the protection of civilians’ agenda, especially in promoting a culture of prevention.

Additionally, I would like to recognize Ms. Christine Beerli, Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Ms. Eveline Rooijimans, Oxfam senior Humanitarian policy advisor for being here with us today and for their work, despite the challenges and the risks involved.

Mr. President,

Our history has informed our resolve to advocate for and contribute where possible to protection of all lives of civilians entangled in today’s armed conflicts. One life lost is one too many. We can all agree on this point. We believe you also hold this conviction in Uruguay being one of the first signatories of the Kigali Principles.

Mr. President,

May I start by sharing how I view the protection of civilians (POC) mandate is understood among the international community. Some troop and police contributors believe they are deployed to protect by presence, an idea that suggests a more static approach to POC.  Other troop and police contributors adhere to a more proactive approach to POC, by implementing a robust approach to the execution of the mandate.

These differing views on the POC mandate are however not new. Since the creation of the UN, 71 years ago, the UN Security Council has adopted a number of resolutions and strategies to protect civilians in armed conflict, including the landmark resolution 1265 of 1999. However, in 1994, more than a million were killed during the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. This is one of the darkest moments in the history of modern humankind and peacekeeping.

Today, more than 20 years since the Genocide against the Tutsi, we keep asking ourselves why the UN did little to nothing to protect Rwandans. Why did the international community not step in and prevent the fastest Genocide of the 21st Century? To this day, we still have no clear answer. In my own region, the Great Lakes region, we have for instance a peacekeeping mission that is supposed to provide protection to civilians entangled in armed conflict, but we have seen time and again, its struggle to deliver on that crucial promise to protect., Despite the presence of the largest peacekeeping force, MONUSCO and Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) that are equipped with all types of equipment and enablers, we are still facing roaming predators against civilians, mainly the so-called Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

While we understand that the responsibility to protect civilians lies primarily with the host country, our main source of frustration today is the continued inability of the international community, in a timely manner, to rapidly respond to conflicts that may turn violent, which could effectively protect civilians.

Mr. President,

I would like to now take the time to touch upon some challenges we believe significantly impact the implementation of the POC mandates in today’s peacekeeping missions. First, we are still divided over what the ‘use of force’ entails and this is worrisome considering the thousands of peacekeepers entrusted with saving the lives of civilians throughout the world. We need to clearly and thoroughly confirm what it entails, particularly when the threat to civilians may arise from groups that claim to be affiliated with the host government. We seek a common mindset.

Second, we must achieve sound and effective rapid deployment. Even if we are to obtain the necessary number of troops, the required COE, and more, none of it matters if we cannot rapidly deploy. As the report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) noted, “Truly rapid and effective deployment capacities will always come at a cost, and yet a more reliable system for responding quickly to save lives and arrest emerging conflicts can potentially avoid a larger, more costly response later.”

Third, we must avoid template approaches that constrain POC mandates and their respective peacekeeping mission. Now is the time for us, the international community, to act boldly, strategically and flexibly. Applying tailored approaches means assessing the situation on the ground, the capabilities needed to properly protect civilians, and, as highlighted by the HIPPO panel, “build upon existing sources of resilience and local protection.” Template mandates and missions must be left in the past.

Fourth, while a lot has been done by troop and police contributing countries and the UN to improve the protection of civilians, the increasing violence against civilians has tested the fundamental principles and capabilities of our operations and demonstrated that much remains to be done. Our experience on the ground has proven that peacekeeping operations are ill-prepared, with no adequate means to address large-scale violence directed against civilians, will falter and may even collapse.

Fifth, we must understand the root causes of the conflicts that lie before us so that we can thoroughly protect civilians. This understanding will in return allow us to understand the how’s and why’s of attacks on civilians, which as HIPPO denoted, it allows for the identification of proper responses to threats against civilians.

Lastly, there often exists a gap between the expectations surrounding civilian protection and the actual capabilities possessed by peacekeepers. Both must be considered in mandate design.  We believe that threats to civilians and their solutions should inform mission mandates, strategies, structures, and resources allocation, as set out in the benchmarks outlined in the Kigali Principles on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.

As you will recall, these principles were the outcome of the High Level International Conference that we hosted in May last year; and as the concept note rightly puts it, the benchmarks set out in these Kigali Principles  offer pro-active practical ways  that could lead to addressing current challenges in implementing protection of Civilians mandates.

We thank member states that have endorsed these principles since the early stage, including Uruguay; and encourage others to join us in that endeavor. In collaboration with the United Nations, Regional and Sub-regional organizations, and other member states, we hope to streamline those principles into the core of PoC agenda. This will assist in overcoming the challenges we face to POC and the implementation of its mandate.

In the coming months, we will co-host an international conference with the U.S. AFRICOM and the Netherlands that will serve as a follow up to the POC conference held in Kigali last year. We look forward to your participation.

Mr. President,

Allow me to also emphasize the role of regional and sub-regional organizations; which we believe could enhance implementation of protection of civilians’ mandates due to their cultural and regional proximity, local knowledge of conflict dynamics, as well as their ability to deploy quickly. It is my hope that this body will continue to maximize the use of their comparative advantages; involving them throughout the process of Missions deployment, including consultations on mandates design.

Mr. President,

In closing, may I share the following words by H.E. President Paul Kagame, “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.”

I thank you.