KIGALI - President Paul Kagame yesterday underscored the value of human rights in society, saying that good governance would be meaningless without human rights.
The President was speaking at the end of a ten-day global human rights youth conference in Kigali yesterday that brought together youth leaders from all over the world.
“Human rights are inherent to all societies and every human being is sacred and inviolable. In Rwanda, protecting these rights is part and parcel of our daily business,” he told the young leaders.
Rwanda’s history, the President noted, has many lessons to offer emanating from its past that saw many Rwandans deprived of their basic fundamental rights and being victims of human rights abuse for decades.
“Our golden rule is that we should treat others the way we want to be treated. Rwandans can’t enjoy the respect and dignity they deserve if their rights aren’t guaranteed.
“This is precisely why we have made the rights of our citizens the cornerstone of governance in this country… it is because we understand where we have come from,” the President said”.
Kagame added that when the government strives to provide equal opportunities to all, mainstream gender equality in all aspects of the life in the country, as well as fighting against exclusion and any form of discrimination and promote power sharing, it is because it seeks to respect, protect and defend the human rights of all Rwandans.
“When we give a voice to every Rwandan and encourage political participation of all citizens through decentralization, it is because we see convergence of human rights and social and economic development,” he said.
During an interactive session held with the youth leaders, President Kagame underscored the significance of building strong institutions in contrast to leaders, adding that it is institutions that sustain leaders.
Institutions, the President added, should outlive leaders and that they (leaders) should come and go, but that institutions should remain to continue serving the country.
“Institutions, laws and other norms that have been carefully put in place to guide our development path, should be the ones we invest much of our time and analysis in,” he pointed out.
Flanked by the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, Sylvie Zainab Kaitesi, the President reiterated his strong stand on foreign aid, saying that while many African countries still need it, it shouldn’t create dependency.
“When you depend on somebody, that person will dictate to you and will decide for you. Rwandans and Africans don’t deserve any less dignity than others have,” he told the youth leaders.
He instead said Investment should be the way forward as it unlocks peoples’ energies, creativity, innovation, and empowers them to decide what to do.
In his acknowledgement remarks, the Executive Director of UNESCO chair at the University of Connecticut, Professor Omara Otunnu, commended the country’s political leadership and promised that the students would use the knowledge attained for the benefit of the populations in their respective countries.
The Global Youth Human Rights conference, organized by the National Human Rights Commission, was taking place in Africa for the first time.