The Rwandan Genocide and its implications on regional security

This is the last of a  series of articles  we have been running from the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa, in their concerted desire to fight the genocide ideology from the world in general.

This is the last of a  series of articles  we have been running from the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa, in their concerted desire to fight the genocide ideology from the world in general.

It is an honour for me address this second core-business workshop of the committee of intelligence and security services of Africa (CISSA), and being the first outside Addis Ababa, it is surely a unique opportunity and honour for Rwanda to host such an important event.

The purpose of this workshop is to initiate a process of developing practical tools and mechanisms to identify as early as possible, monitor and report genocidal threats in order to prevent the recurrence of genocide and crimes against humanity anywhere on the continent.

It (the workshop) should therefore leave with us a firm and solid foundation from which we have to build collaborative and concerted sound policies in tackling the threat the genocide ideology poses to the region and the continent as a whole.

This workshop will also study the ramifications of the Rwandan Genocide and its implications to regional security. We believe that this will help in understanding the impact of the genocide ideology.

It is important to note that in January 2004, the Stockholm Intergovernmental Forum attended by 55 governments announced the declaration on Genocide Prevention.

The conference in Stockholm was the first major intergovernmental conference on this subject since the UN adopted the Genocide Convention in 1948.

The fifty-five participating governments made seven commitments in the field of Genocide Prevention. On the continental level, the African Union (AU) officially launched its Peace and Security Council (PSC) on 25 May 2004.

Presently, the AU has the mandate to intervene in conflicts inside member states, a change prompted by the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, when the OAU and the international community stood by and did nothing.

The government of Rwanda welcomes the attention that CISSA has given genocide ideology as a continental threat.

In spite of the commitment to prevent and fight genocide wherever it occurs, as reflected in the 1948 Convention for the prevention and suppression of the crime of genocide, the United Nations witnessed the preparation and execution of the Genocide in Rwanda without taking any meaningful steps to stop it.

States and regional organisations also failed to prevent or stop the slaughter of the Rwandan people. While the international community was aware of the preparation of the Genocide, both through warnings and the intelligence reports collected by the UN Peacekeeping Force (UNAMIR) and several embassies in Kigali, nothing was done to stop it.

Rwandans were single-handedly left to fight and defeat the genocidal­ forces, restore law and order and start the process of rebuilding the nation. In most countries, ethnic-related tensions have broken out some assuming genocidal proportions.

The recurring crises across the African continent and the Rwandan Genocide serve as reminders of what could happen elsewhere if it is not prevented in advance. Members of the international community share a moral responsibility to ensure that it is prevented, and that those who could encourage it are condemned.

In the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide, officials of the former government, soldiers, and militia fled to the DRC, leading more than a million Rwandans into exile.

They carried with them their genocidal ideology and many of their weapons. This ideology is still preached and its effects have greatly affected the whole region.

Currently, a genocidal force (FDLR) of more than 10,000 strong remains in the DRC. Their focus is and remains the accomplishment of their mission and they have exported and continue to propagate and spread the genocide ideology in the DRC and elsewhere.

The fundamental question today is; if a new genocide occurred, would the world respond any differently?

­The world has not developed the international institutions needed to predict and prevent it. In her efforts to address the issue of genocide, Rwanda has undertaken different strategies.

It has established different commissions and institutions to eradicate the genocide ideology. Such commissions and institutions include the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, and the Gacaca Jurisdictions to try Genocide criminals inside the country.

While there are different initiatives on the regional level including the Arusha Peace Agreement, Tripartite Plus, bilateral engagements and international conferences on peace, security, democracy and development in the Great Lakes region, these initiatives have not put an end to this threat.

Despite the above-mentioned efforts and conventions outlawing genocide, it must be acknowledged that they serve a partial answer to the problem of genocide.

The efficiency of the response is already demonstrated in the myriad problems posed by the perpetrators of Genocide.

The international community has tolerated the  rearmament of the Ex-FAR and Interahamwe in the DRC, yet lasting peace in the Great Lakes region is largely dependent on a successful strategy of disarmament and repatriation of these negative forces.

The misery and terrible consequences of the genocide do not end when the actual acts of genocide cease. Instead, their destructive impact on individuals, families and society continues for lifetimes, and down through the generations.

It is in this context therefore that preventing genocide from happening again and rebuilding genocide-torn societies to prevent the perpetuation of life-long and multi-generational effects should be envisaged by the whole continent as well as the whole international community.

As the legacy of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide hangs heavily over the neighbouring countries in particular and the continent at large, combined efforts to address the root causes of the genocide must be deployed for the sake of peace, stability and sustainable development.

To achieve this, there should be established a mechanism for cooperation in Genocide Prevention not only in the Great Lakes region, but also at continental level.

Creating a continental framework could provide a forum for more intensive international coordination in support of efforts to counter the Genocidaires.

It is my sincere hope that this workshop will be a platform for discussions on how we can foster awareness on genocide ideology as a continental threat, conveying Rwandan views on genocide ideology with an aim to define options for addressing this threat.

I am confident that deliberations from this workshop will go a long way in providing us with the necessary tools and practices to eradicate the threat that the genocide ideology poses.

Another important topic to be deliberated on is the Union government debate. It is significant to note that progress has been achieved towards regional integration.

There have been some strides in trade,­communications, macroeconomic policy, and transport; but integration has lagged in energy, peace and security.

Some regional economic communities have excelled in trade liberalisation, free movement of people and infrastructure, but others have not.

The regional economic communities have not met their own expectations of greater internal trade and production because Africa’s regional integration efforts has been hampered by a low level of implementation of treaty obligations, an inability to prevent and resolve conflicts decisively, and a lack of resources to support integration, a long-term, capital intensive venture.

Despite all challenges, there is a major transformation process that is taking place on the African continent that is anchored on key principles of African ownership and leadership, self reliance and a new partnership with the developed and developing world that is based on mutual respect, responsibility and accountability.

Another topic of interest to be discussed in this workshop is ‘’The CISSA Liaison Policy Guidelines”.

It is important to note that it is only through the sharing of information that Africa can effectively tackle the prevailing transnational security challenges, such as genocide ideology, the growing menace of international terrorism, illegal and clandestine immigration and smuggling, mercenary activities, arms trafficking, emergence of ethnic militias, money laundering and drug trafficking.

CISSA should, in keeping with one of its avowed functions, help shift the paradigm from Need-to-Know to the Need-to-Share without compromising the independence of CISSA.

The cardinal principle of information sharing on common regional, continental and international threats is very useful.


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