Rwanda sets priorities for UNSC presidency

Identifying the root causes of conflict, particularly on the African continent, tops Rwanda’s agenda as it takes over the April presidency of the UN Security Council (UNSC).
Rwanda's Permanent Representative to the UN, Amb. Eugène-Richard Gasana, is the President of the Security Council for the month of April. The New Times/File.
Rwanda's Permanent Representative to the UN, Amb. Eugène-Richard Gasana, is the President of the Security Council for the month of April. The New Times/File.

Identifying the root causes of conflict, particularly on the African continent, tops Rwanda’s agenda as it takes over the April presidency of the UN Security Council (UNSC).

This, the country’s diplomats at the UN headquarters in New York say, will help find the lasting solution for conflicts plaguing the continent.

Rwanda, yesterday, took over from Russia as President of the Security Council, three months after joining the 15-nation top UN organ.

The Security Council presidency rotates among the Council members in the English alphabetical order of their names. Each president holds office for a period of one month.

The last four decades have seen UN peacekeeping missions in Africa fail to address the root causes of conflicts and civil strife on the continent of 54 countries, according to Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwanda’s deputy Permanent Representative to the UN.

The more UN peacekeepers are deployed in Africa, the more the conflicts emerge, he added.

Currently the continent is struggling to quell conflicts in DR Congo, Mali, tensions between the two Sudans, the protracted insurgency in Somalia, as well as restoring constitutional order in Central African Republic where a rebel group overran the government of Francois Bozize a fortnight ago.

The conflicts, the diplomat said, come at a huge human and financial cost to Africa and the world.

In DRC alone, the UN spends more than $1.4 billion a year on a 20,000-man peacekeeping force.

These intra-country and inter-country conflicts continue to claim thousands of civilians every year, especially women and children, and leaving millions of others homeless.

Rwanda, therefore, has made tackling the root causes of conflict on the continent a priority during its presidency of the UN Security Council.

Kigali is organising a high-level Security Council debate at the UN to underscore the root causes of conflict on the continent and how best to address them, Nduhungirehe said.

Panel of the Wise

The ministerial-levek meeting is scheduled for April I5. It will focus on structural prevention of conflicts, and how member states and civil society can work to address the conflicts.

“The Forum will be an opportunity to generate new skills, mechanisms and create institutions for preventing violence and resolving disputes,” a statement prepared by the Rwandan delegation to the UN reads in part.

The open debate will also deliberate the effectiveness of national infrastructure for peace as a homegrown solution for strengthening local capacities for conflict prevention.

The meeting will also examine the effectiveness of the AU Peace and Security Architecture, particularly early warning system and the Panel of the Wise, with a view to enhancing African conflict prevention capabilities.

Established in 2007, the AU Panel of the Wise is a five-member group of eminent African personalities tasked with supporting the continent in finding sustainable solutions to conflicts and consolidating peace.

“Rwanda will assume the presidency of the UNSC with a focus on preventing conflicts in Africa and sexual violence in conflicts,” Nduhungirehe tweeted yesterday.

The main event will be a briefing on ‘Prevention of conflicts in Africa: Addressing the root causes’ chaired by Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo, Nduhungirehe added.

The diplomat said this month, Rwanda will hold 11 closed consultations, nine public meetings, one troop contributing countries’ meeting and a meeting to adopt resolutions.

The country will organise two open debates; one on sexual violence in conflict (on April 17) and another on Middle East (on April 24), he said.

The programme also include consultations on Mali, Central African Republic, Western Sahara, Sudan/South-Sudan, Darfur and Somalia.

First Peacekeeping mission


Yesterday, the first day of its UNSC presidency, Rwanda held bilateral meetings between the Security Council President (Rwanda’s Permanent Representative to the UN and Minister of State for Cooperation, Amb. Eugène-Richard Gasana) and the representatives of the 14 other countries that constitute the UNSC.

It is said conflicts on the continent have significantly increased over the past four decades, a sharp contrast from yesteryear when the UN deployed a single peacekeeping force.

The first UN peacekeeping mission in Africa was deployed in DRC in 1960, but these missions multiplied over the years, totaling 25 by 2011.

Rwanda believes that none of the conflicts in Africa is the result of an unavoidable clash between civilisations or cultures, according to the country’s diplomats at the UN.

“All conflicts occur according to a similar pattern, and have deep-rooted causes, such as the legacy of colonialism, nationalism and identity, ethnic tensions and discrimination, lack of rule of law, violation of human rights, corruption and bad governance, foreign interference, poverty and youth unemployment,” the document says.

Previously, Rwanda has actively participated in efforts aimed at consolidating post-conflict peace and security, particularly through sharing her post-Genocide recovery experience with other countries.

Sheikh Khalfan Omar Bizuru, a lecturer of political science at the National University of Rwanda, described Rwanda’s priorities of its UNSC presidency as timely, adding that Africans need to genuinely tackle the underlying causes of conflict.

“The conflicts on the continent don’t need foreign intervention; they can be adequately addressed through homegrown solutions. They are essentially domestic in nature and need domestic solutions,” he said.

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