Rwanda’s two-year mandate seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will end this month and the years 2013 and 2014 will go down in history as the time when the country sat as a non-permanent member of the UNSC and contributed to conflict resolution in the world.
It was a time the country played its role in making peace in the world, particularly in the troubled Africa’s Great Lakes region, North, and West Africa.
When Rwanda assumed her non-permanent seat at the UNSC in January 2013, the country’s representatives at the UN vowed to enhance cooperation between world, continental, and regional bodies in search for peace.
At the time, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the UN in charge of UNSC matters, Olivier Nduhungirehe, said: “Rwanda will strive to enhance the triangular cooperation UN-AU-RECs (Regional Economic Communities), which has gained momentum over the past years.”
Among major tasks during her tenure, Rwanda chaired two vital Subsidiary Organs of the UNSC; the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya and an ad hoc working group on prevention of conflicts in Africa.
The Security Council Committee concerning Libya was established to oversee the relevant sanction measures on Libya and Rwanda was seen as the right candidate to chair the committee after showing a strong stand against the late Muammar Gadhafi during the Libyan revolution.
“It is important to note that Rwanda, attached to the principle of Responsibility to Protect, had a strong stand against the late Muammar Gadhafi during the Libyan revolution, and was one of the rare African countries to openly support the no-fly zone imposed by resolution 1973,” Nduhungirehe told The New Times as Rwanda assumed chairmanship of the committee on Libya.
As the diplomat highlighted, around 70 per cent of the agenda of the Security Council were African issues and since 2007, the UNSC and the AU Peace and Security Council had been meeting every year, either in Addis Ababa at the AU headquarters or in New York at the UN headquarters.
Hence the ad hoc working group on prevention of conflicts in Africa, which was also chaired by Rwanda during her tenure at the UNSC, was in charge of monitoring the implementation of recommendations outlined in previous Council decisions regarding conflict prevention and resolution in Africa.
The working group was also in charge of proposing recommendations on the enhancement of cooperation between the Council and the Economic and Social Council and other UN agencies dealing with Africa.
During Rwanda’s tenure, conflicts in Mali and in the DR Congo remained on the agenda of the UNSC and Rwanda showed her ability to promote policies against conflict resolution and support peace-keeping operations.
Omar Khalfan, a lecturer of politics and international relations at the University of Rwanda, said Rwandan diplomats at the UNSC were able to advise countries on how to manage post-conflict societies.
“Rwanda has been able to showcase her achievements in good governance and managing post-conflict situations,” he said.
The lecturer said Rwanda’s foreign policy includes fighting genocide ideology, a stand that the country once again used to highlight the threat posed by members of the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) militia based is the DR Congo.
“Rwanda was able to show once again that the FDLR is a terrorist group. This helped certain countries and researchers to stop considering the FDLR as a freedom fighter,” Khalfan said.
There were several warnings against the FDLR during Rwanda’s tenure at the UNSC, including the recent one which urged both the UN stabilisation mission in the Congo and the Congolese army to prepare for military action against the militia right after the expiry of their January deadline to disarm.
Perhaps one of the other greatest achievements by Rwanda at the UNSC is having successfully convinced the UNSC to refer to the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda as “Genocide against the Tutsi.”
In the UNSC’s Resolution 2150 drafted by Rwanda in April 2014 that recommitted member countries of the UN to the fight against Genocide, the term “Genocide against the Tutsi” was used through out the entire resolution.
The UNSC had until April 2014 referred to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi as “Genocide in Rwanda” or “Rwandan genocide.”
All the 15 member countries of the UNSC signed on the Resolution 2150, making the use of words “Genocide against the Tutsi” the latest acceptable reference to the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda.
The resolution recalled that “it was a ‘fact of common knowledge’ that ‘between 6 April and July 17, 1994, there was a genocide in Rwanda against the Tutsi ethnic group’.
It further recalled that “more than a million people were killed during the Genocide, including Hutu and others who opposed it” and noted with concern any form of denial of that genocide.
The first time Rwanda had sat on the UNSC was between 1993-94, when the occupants were members of the genocidal regime who leveraged its presence on the Council to discourage any UN intervention in Rwanda in the wake of the state-sponsored Genocide against the Tutsi.
But by partly exhibiting her current anti-genocide stance at the UNSC during her 2013-14 tenure, Rwanda played her role in making world peace.