This is the sixth of a series of articles we shall be bringing you from the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa, in their concerted desire to fight the genocide ideology from the world in general.
Former President Habyarimana it is said, had had Mein Kampf translated into Kinyarwanda. In 1992, his army high Command, issued a document that defined the enemy as “the Tutsi, both inside and outside the country.” Indicators of the impending genocide were clear.
Since genocide is a deliberate strategic choice made by leaders, intelligence about it is plentiful by both classified and open source. Hitler’s intent to exterminate or otherwise dispose of European Jews was known.
The Rwandan govemment’s intent to exterminate the Tutsi was widely known in intelligence and security circles. In both cases, the information was not rated important enough to be brought to the attention of decision makers in a consistent and sustained manner.
Whatever the cause for inaction in the face of such tragedy, we cannot make the claim that we did not know. This is even more true today with the advances in technologies that are capable of providing near real time information. Inaction simply is a failure to make correct choices, not of information.
Authors of the genocide in Rwanda continued their activities, currently based mainly in Eastern DRC. However some of the masterminds are active in the Diaspora politics in many African countries including, the Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Zambia, Malawi, Cameroon, Kenya, to mention but a few.
Their continued armed and non armed activities constitute a danger to the security of Rwanda, and many African States.
Theoneste BAGOSORA., the mastermind of the genocide, currently detained at the International Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha wrote his infamous apologia for genocide in 1995, not in Kigali, but in Yaounde, Cameroon.
The ideologues of hatred, exclusion and genocide try to build alliances and coalitions, most temporary, with groups and individuals either intent on overthrowing the legitimate governments in the region, or who they think may help them in returning to leadership in Rwanda to complete the genocide.
This has definite implications for Peace and Security on our Continent. In the meantime, they deny that genocide ever occurred, or if it did, they impute it to some malevolent nature of, or action by, the victims.
In response to such people, I can only quote the International Panel of Eminent Personalities established by the OAU to investigate the Genocide in Rwanda and the surrounding events:
Whatever else the world agrees or debates, whatever crimes other Rwandans have committed in the past decade, whatever the case in Burundi, we insist it is impossible for any reasonable person to reach any conclusion other than that a genocide took place in Rwanda in 1994 and that it was surely one of this century’s least ambiguous cases of genocide.
The Panel was chaired by Sir Ketumire Masire, former President of Botswana. Genocide is a permanent danger to Human security, defined as the protection of people and communities.
The Constitutive Act of the African Union recognizes this fact. Article 4 (h) of the Act empowers the Union to act in order to prevent war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.
This article is clearly aimed at protecting the people of Africa from abusive governments and other organizations that would endanger human security.
The Article was an important shift from the OAU’s strong and exclusive defense of juridical sovereignty. It was partly inspired by the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the OAU’s inability to act then.
The African Union’s conditions for intervention in cases of genocide and other war crimes go beyond the provision made for intervention under the UN Charter.
When populations are at risk, the consent of a State is not required for intervention. A 2/3 majority of the Assembly is sufficient.
This is the principle the AU has used to deploy peacekeeping forces in Burundi, April 2003, and most recently in the Darfur region of the Sudan.
In order to provide an operational arm for this human security the AU has decided on the creation of an African Standby Force.
The Organization has also established a Peace and Security Council, therefore making the right strategic choices to face a strategic threat.
The eleven core countries of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region have signed a Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes.
One of the key components of this Pact is the Protocol on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, war Crimes and Crimes against Humanity and all forms of Discrimination.
Under the Protocol, Member States recognize that the crimes are crimes against humanity’ under International law, and are against the rights of peoples. They undertake in particular to:
a) Refrain from, prevent and punish, such crimes;
b) Condemn and eliminate all forms of discrimination and discriminatory practices;
c) Ensure the strict observance of this undertaking by all national, regional and local public authorities and institutions;
d) Proscribe all propaganda and all organizations which are inspired by ideas or theories based on the superiority of a race or a group of people of a particular, ethnic origin, or which try to justify or encourage any form of ethnic, religious, racial or gender based hatred or discrimination.
The Protocol also provides for the formation of a Committee for the Prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and all form of discrimination. The committee’s role is to:
a) Regularly review situations in each Member State for the purpose of preventing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Great Lakes Region
b) Collect, analyze information related to the crimes above
c) Alert the Conference Summit in time to prevent potential crimes
d) Suggest specific measures to effectively fight impunity for these crimes
e) Contribute to raise awareness and education on peace and reconciliation through regional and national programmes.
f) Recommending measures to guarantee the rights of victims
I believe that an African Convention along the lines of the ICGLR protocol would be an important arsenal in the promotion of human security on the African Continent.
Furthermore an AU Committee charged with tasks similar to those of the Committee of the ICGLR would be fundamental.
The international Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty chaired by Mr. Gareth Evans has provided a very useful synopsis of the core principles of our collective responsibility to protect.
The elements include:
a) The responsibility to prevent: This includes addressing root causes of conflict, setting up early warning mechanisms, and I would add, agreeing on indicators that would raise a red nag early enough in the case of genocide
b) The responsibility to rebuild: In order to address the causes of harm the intervention was designed to halt or avert.
The Constitutive Act of the African Union and the Protocol on Genocide of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region provide both a sufficient platform and model for the struggle against, genocide and the ideology that underlies it.
Many Regional Economic Communities are struggling to set up Early Warning Mechanisms, which I expect will be integral parts of the Continental Early Warning Mechanism.
These Mechanisms and Committees such as the one under the ICGLR are critical, or the agenda against genocide to advance however, we must determine that genocide is a threat to our collective security, and give it the’ priority it deserves in our institutional Security Architecture at National, Regional, and Continental level.
We must move it from the margins of the Security agenda to the centre, and mobilize the requisite resources for it. We must agree, at a Continental] level to start with, on the menu for action in case of the threat of genocide. What non coercive measures to take, the threshold for intervention, and the operational principles in the case of Intervention in advancement of human security.
Perhaps I would do well to end with the words of the OAD Panel of Eminent Personalities:
(Readers) have a right to expect us to be objective and to root our observations and conclusions in the facts of the case, and we have striven rigorously to do so.
But they must not expect us to be dispassionate (emphasis mine). I urge you; do not be dispassionate in the face of genocide or even the spectre of genocide anywhere on the Continent.