WEST POINT - President Paul Kagame has said that the international community now shares similar security challenges and urged common understanding and joint pursuit of sustainable solutions.
He made the remarks while addressing the Cadet Class of 2013 at the United States Military Academy at West Point, at the end of the Plebe Parent Weekend.
President Kagame whose son, Ivan Cyomoro, is a cadet at the institution, noted that it was rewarding to see the progress being made by the young men and women in their first year at West Point.
Addressing an audience of cadets, their visiting families, faculty and staff at the academy, including Brigadier General William E. Rapp, the Commandant of Cadets, President Kagame cited international terrorism; appropriate threat assessment; accessibility of weapons of mass destruction; ethnic and religious extremism; as well as cyber crimes, human and drug trafficking, small arms proliferation, climate change, and natural disasters as contributors to global insecurity.
President Kagame offered several suggestions for consideration in the search for sustainable solutions to ongoing international threats to security, starting with the adoption a holistic concept of human security because consequences of insecurity often persist and spill across borders.
He also stressed the need to address root causes of conflict rather than the symptoms, in order to truly resolve instability whose origins are usually governance related.
Contrasting the response to the 9/11 attacks in New York and the genocide in Rwanda, President Kagame pointed to the need to enhance international response, solidarity and cooperation, so that international threats “carry the same weight and meaning to all countries irrespective of which interests are at stake” and not only when the interests of powerful nations are threatened.
President Kagame also urged the appreciation of the causal link between sustainable development and sustainable peace saying that focusing international attention and resources on socio-economic development, trade and investment, would facilitate self-sufficiency and increased ownership of national agendas.
On the changing character of warfare, President Kagame said that the international community needed to adapt to this contemporary challenge by addressing the fight for hearts and minds as opposed to focusing exclusively on military solutions, because sophisticated weaponry is not as effective against people’s ideas and beliefs.
President Kagame called on the West Point cadets to reflect on how, in the face of the existing security challenges, they can make a difference in today’s world, and noting that they were in a environment that encouraged excellence, and urged them to “Push as far as you can go – and that will always be further than you imagine – let the best come out of you and make your presence here count”.
President Kagame thanked West Point for opening its doors to aspiring officers from other countries saying that it was “further testament to the School’s and the United States generosity and sense of responsibility to global security and mutual learning.”