President Paul Kagame has called for rapid response to conflicts through timely deployment of peacekeepers, saying slow response exposed civilians to preventable dangers.
He was speaking earlier today at the opening of a high-level conference on peacekeeping, dubbed ‘International Conference on Civilian Protection’, in Kigali.
The two-day meeting attracted delegates from more than 30 major troop contributing nations as well as top financial contributors to United Nations peacekeeping missions.
Participants are deliberating on ways to improve the protection of civilians from atrocities in armed conflict.
“Deployment is too slow, while vague mandates and unclear rules of engagement inhibit decisive action to protect civilians,” Kagame said, adding that keeping people safe from harm was an obligation.
The President noted that the international community’s decision to walk away from Rwandans in the wake of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda was a disgrace that had to be reckoned with.
United Nations withdrew its peacekeepers from Rwanda in the buildup and during the Genocide despite repeated warnings about the imminent killings, and many agree that had it acted otherwise hundreds of thousands of lives could probably have been saved.
At least one million people died in the 100-day killing spree, which was halted by the then Rwanda Patriotic Army rebels led by Kagame.
Rwanda is currently one of the top five contributors of peacekeepers worldwide.
The conference is expected to examine challenges in peacekeeping and make concrete proposals on how to further enhance collective responsibility for international peace and security, according to organisers.