Peacekeeping operations serve as one of the international community’s most effective tools to manage threats to international peace and security. There are currently a total of 17 peacekeeping operations led by the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), with a total of 121,500 personnel, including over 82,500 troops, 14,335 police, and 2,033 Military Experts on Mission (MEM). In addition, there are now more than 17,700 civilian personnel and some 2,400 UN Volunteers from over 160 nations.
Rwanda’s commitment to contributing to the maintenance of international peace and security is based on the firm belief that the international community has a responsibility to prevent conflict and to act when confronted with challenges to peace and security. This principle is influenced by the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and the failure of the international community to intervene.
Rwanda deployed its first peacekeepers to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) in 2004. Since then, Rwanda has emerged as one of the largest and most effective peacekeepers in the world, contributing the highest percentage of troops per national capita to UN peacekeeping missions. Rwanda’s involvement in UN peacekeeping started with a modest contribution in May 2005 with the deployment of one military observer to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). By the time the Mission’s mandate ended in July 2011, Rwanda had over 300 troops, police, and military observers on the ground.
Today, Rwanda is the sixth Major Troop and Police Contributing Country (T/PCC) in the UN, with over 4,000 troops, over 400 Police, and 13 Military Observers in seven UN Missions, including: the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID); the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS); the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH); the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL); the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA); the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI); and, the UN Integrated Peace-building Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS).
Recently, due to the deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), Rwanda committed to send 850 troops, to reinforce the International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA).
Rwanda’s main stake in peacekeeping lies with UNAMID, with approximately 3,200 troops, 225 Police, and 7 Military Observers. This contribution led to several nominations of Rwandans to senior posts in UNAMID, including Force Commander, Deputy Sector Commander, Sector North Police Commander, and a Chief of Staff. In addition to its forces in UNAMID, Rwanda deployed 850 troops to UNMISS in early 2012 and contributed much-needed military helicopters to UNAMID.
In addition to its troops, Rwanda has over 450 Police Officers deployed in MINUSTAH, UNMIL, UNOCI, UNAMID, and UNMISS (and also contributed to the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad – MINURCAT – before the mandate ended in 2010). In August 2009, the UN launched a global effort to recruit more female police officers into national police services and into UN police operations around the world, with the goal to have twenty percent of the UN Police force consist of women by 2014. Rwanda has recently been answering that call: today it is the third highest contributor of female police officers and the second highest African contributor of female police officers.
Beyond traditional peacekeeping operations and working with other stakeholders, Rwanda is contributing to the development of Quick Impact Projects (QIPs), particularly in Darfur and Haiti, where Rwandan contingents and Formed Police Units build classrooms and hospitals, train locals to use new energy-saving stoves, and lead communities in cleanup.