Welcoming remarks by James Kabarebe, Minister of Defence, Republic of Rwanda
Kigali, 28 May 2015
Your Excellency the President of the Republic;
Mr. Lamin Manneh, One UN Resident Coordinator;
Honorable Ministers and Heads of Delegations;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Let me on the outset most sincerely thank H.E The President of The Republic, for finding time to be with us this morning. The fact that you took time off your busy schedule, to be The Guest of Honour to this High Level International Conference on the Protection of Civilians, underlines the importance you attach to protection of vulnerable civilians in armed conflicts.
Allow me Your Excellency, on behalf of the Government of Rwanda, to welcome all Delegations and Guests to Kigali and for honouring our invitation to attend this important meeting.
As most of you may recall, the Protection of Civilians Conference is a follow-up to the High Level Summit on Peacekeeping, co-hosted by Rwanda and four other Troop and Financial contributing countries, which was held in September last year in the margins of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly.
For this High Level Conference, Rwanda has invited the top 30 Troop/Police contributing countries and 10 top Financial contributing countries, to share their invaluable experience and challenges that we face in the field, toward effective protection of civilians. This two-day Conference comprises of five thematic sessions, for which we have invited several knowledgeable and experienced people to serve as speakers and moderators. They will lead us toward invaluable deliberations and way forward. We thank you all for being with us.
Let me take this opportunity to inform you that H.E. José Ramos-Horta, Former President of Timor-Leste and Chair of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, and Mr. Dmitry Titov, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), who were scheduled to deliver remarks during the opening session, will join us at a later stage, due to flight delays. Hon Louise Mushikiwabo will not be able to join us due to other urgent duties.
Mr. Lamin Manneh, One UN Resident Coordinator, will deliver remarks on behalf of the United Nations, followed by the Guest of Honour, who will deliver His Keynote address and formally open this High Level International Conference on the Protection of Civilians.
Once again join me in thanking His Excellency The President of The Republic for gracing this Conference as our Guest of Honour and in welcoming all our guests.
As part of the Kigali International Conference on the Protection of Civilians, the Rwanda Defence Force invited the media to attend a pre-deployment training exercise that aims to prepare peacekeepers for the effective protection of civilians in conflict areas. The exercise took place at the Gako Military Camp on 27 May 2015.
Scroll through the photos to see how Rwandan troops prepare for peacekeeping.
The International Conference on the Protection of Civilians will be held from 28-29 May in Kigali, Rwanda. The conference will bring together many of the top 30 UN troop and police contributing countries, as well as the top 10 financial contributing countries.
Below are links to useful reading materials to help you understand the background to the conference and the importance of the Protection of Civilians in conflict zones.
U Rwanda nk’igihugu cyiyemeje ndetse gishishikariye kubungabunga amahoro hirya no hino ku isi, rwateguye inama mpuzamahanga ku kurinda abasivile mu bikorwa byo kubungabunga amahoro izaba kuri uyu wa 28 kugera kuwa 29 Gicurasi 2015.
Iyi nama ihurije hamwe ibihugu bisaga 30 bifite ingabo zibungabunga amahoro ku isi, ibihugu 10 bitanga inkunga muri ibyo bikorwa bakaba bagiye kurebera hamwe uko hanozwa uburyo bwo kurinda abasivile mu bikorwa byo kubungabunga amahoro.
Iyi nama ije ikurikira iyabaye iyabereye I New York umwaka ushize muri Nzeri ubwo habaga inama ya 69 y’Umuryango w’Abibumbye, yateguwe n’u Rwanda, Leta Zunze Ubumwe z’Amerika, Bangladesh, Pakistan n’u Buyapani.
Intego y’u Rwanda ni uko iyi nama yasiga ishyizeho uburyo buhamye bw’uko abasivile bajya barimdwa mu bihe by’intambara n’amakimbirane.
Uruhare rw’u Rwanda mu bikorwa byo kubungabunga amahoro rwatangiye kugaragara nyuma ya Jenoside yakorewe Abatutsi mu 1994, ubwo abantu basaga miliyoni bishwe mu gihe cy’iminsi 100 umuryango mpuzamahanga urebera.
Kuri ubu u Rwanda ni kimwe mu bihugu biyoboye itsinda ry’ibihugu byitwa “Inshuti z’Abaharanira kurinda abaturage” “Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” bakorana n’umuryango mpuzamahanga mu kumvisha ibihugu byose byo ku isi uruhare rwabo mu gukumira no kurinda ubuzima bw’abaturage ndetse no kugira icyo bakora mu gihe habuze amahoro n’umutekano.
Ku Isi yose, u Rwanda ni igihugu cya gatanu mu kugira abasirikare benshi mu bikorwa byo kubungabunga amahoro ku isi, rukaba ari n’urwa gatatu muri Afurika.
Mu gihe havutse amakimbirane mu gihihugu runaka kikaba kitagishoboye gukemura ayo makimbirane, Akanama k’Umuryango w’Abibumye Gashinzwe amahoro ku isi ndetse n’umuryango Mpuzamahanga bafata iya mbere mu kubungabunga amahoro n’umutekano bohereza abasirikare bahabwa inshingano zitandukanye zirimo no kurinda abasivile bugarijwe n’amage.
Mu myaka 70 ishize, Umuryango w’Abibumbye wagize uruhare rugaragara mu kubahiriza iyi nshingano yo kurinda abaturage mu gihe cy’intambara n’amakimbirane, gusa haracyari byinshi byo gukora kugira ngo birusheho kunozwa neza, cyane cyane guhuza bene ibyo bikorwa.
N’ubwo ingabo nyinshi zibungabunga amahoro ziba zifite inshingano zo kurinda abavile, abasirikare n’abapolisi nabo bakaba biyemeza kurinda abasivile mu gihe cyo kubungabunga amahoro hari igihe bahura n’imbogamizi, izo nshingano zabo ntibazigereho uko bikwiye. Iyi Nama Mpuzamahanga igiye kubera I Kigali, izarabera hamwe imbogamizi bahura nazo ndetse itange imyanzuro ndakuka ku buryo hahurizwa hamwe imbaraga mu bikorwa byo kurinda abasivile dore ko ahanini aribo baba badafite kirengera.
Ushobora kandi gukurikira ibizavugirwa muri iyi nama kuri Twitter ukoresheje umuyoboro (hashtag) witwa #KigaliPoC, wakurikira kandi iyi nama no kuri Facebook.
As an active and committed contributor to peacekeeping efforts around the world, the Government of Rwanda is organising the Kigali International Conference on the Protection of Civilians from 28-29 May 2015. The forum brings together most of the top 30 UN troop contributing countries, the ten financial contributing countries and Rwandan institutions to evaluate and discuss how to effectively implement the Protection of Civilians mandate in peacekeeping.
The conference is a follow-up to the High-level Summit on Peacekeeping Operations, co-hosted by the US, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Japan, which was held in September 2014 on the margins of the 69th general debate of the UN General Assembly in New York. Rwanda’s goal is that the conference will pave the way to the effective protection of civilians in armed conflicts.
Rwanda’s involvement in peacekeeping is informed by the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. Over 100 days, more than a million Rwandans were killed as the International Community failed in its responsibility to protect innocent civilians. Today, Rwanda, which is the co-chair of the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), works tirelessly with the rest of the International Community to ensure that all nations live up to their responsibility to prevent conflict, protect the lives of civilians, and act when confronted with challenges to peace and security. Rwanda is the fifth largest global contributor of UN peacekeepers and third in Africa.
When conflicts arise, and when the state is unable to contain or resolve the crisis, the UN Security Council and the International Community as a whole have the responsibility to maintain international peace and security, including by deploying peacekeepers whose mandate should include the protection of civilians under imminent threat. Over the past 70 years, the United Nations has made significant progress in advancing and streamlining the Protection of Civilians mandate. There remains however much to be done to achieve robust peacekeeping, which entails more effective and better-coordinated protection efforts on the ground.
Although the majority of active peacekeeping missions have Protection of Civilian mandates, and despite troop and police contributing countries’ commitment to the Protection of Civilians, differences in expectations and understanding of these mandates pose a challenge to their successful implementation. The Kigali International Conference on the Protection of Civilians will discuss these challenges and make concrete proposals on how to further enhance our collective responsibility for international peace and security, while protecting the most vulnerable.
Follow the #KigaliPoC hashtag on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
Rwanda National Police has been hailed as one of the exemplary performers in maintaining peace, law and order in countries that are facing insecurity and violence. With a background of divisive politics and violence that led to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda has become a valued contributor of police officers in AU/United Nations Peacekeeping missions all over the world.
To fully understand the dynamics involved in peacekeeping, we sat down with the Commissioner for Peace Support Operations, ACP Jimmy Hodari, who shared Rwanda National Police’s journey in peacekeeping operations.
When did RNP begin peacekeeping operations and what has been their contribution?
Rwanda National Police (RNP) deployed its first peacekeepers to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) in 2004. They were 49 officers in total. Since then, we have emerged as one of the largest and most effective peacekeeping forces in the world, currently contributing 620 officers in eight different missions.
Rwandan Formed Police Units (FPU) are deployed in Haiti, Mali and Central African Republic. Our Individual Police Officers (IPOs) are deployed in Darfur, South Sudan, in Abyei (a disputed region between Sudan and South Sudan that is under UN protection), Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia. We also have officers in missions where we have units and police officers at the UN Headquarters, which could be considered Rwanda’s ninth mission.
Why did RNP choose to begin peacekeeping operations?
Rwanda’s commitment to contributing to the maintenance of international peace and security is based on the firm belief that the international community has a responsibility to prevent conflict and to act when confronted with challenges to peace and security. This principle is influenced by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and the failure of the international community to intervene. We in Rwanda have experienced the most gruesome violation of human rights in the past – and instead of the international community helping, peacekeepers were ordered to leave Rwanda.
We don’t want what happened here in 1994 to happen anywhere else and that is why we are committed to rapidly responding whenever we are called to participate in peacekeeping operations.
Have RNP’s peacekeeping missions been as successful?
Our contribution to peacekeeping missions has led to the creation of peace in our mission areas. Our officers have been noted for their professionalism and willingness to helping residents. This contribution led to several nominations of Rwandans to senior posts in missions, which indicates the level of trust that we have built since we began participating in international peacekeeping.
Can you chart for us how the Peace Support Operations unit has grown since its creation? How has it managed to grow to its current level?
Insecurity in various parts of the world calls for a peace support model, which allows a peacekeeping mission to fill a void and adapt to the demands required for the establishment of peace. Our peacekeepers therefore have a responsibility to respond robustly to threats as well as by engaging the communities in campaigns that promote peace and safety.
Our peace support missions have grown in accordance to the demands of international peace and our capabilities. We have been successful in undertaking a range of policing tasks, including the maintenance of public order, policing, mentoring of local police forces, infrastructure reconstruction and national reconciliation.
How are police officers chosen to be involved in peace support operations?
While selecting officers for peacekeeping missions, we use the guidelines set by the United Nations. These guidelines contain general information about the administrative aspects of the selection, deployment, rotation, transfer and repatriation of peacekeepers on assignment. These guidelines enable us to make necessary arrangements prior to departure of officers and also serve as a guide during missions. We ensure that the selected officers are trained in the necessary skills and knowledge they will need during their missions.
Do you consider gender as one of the criteria to follow when selecting peacekeeping officers?
Definitely! Rwanda National Police (RNP) as an institution has a number of ways to ensure that gender issues are at the core of our work, not only in peace support operations but also in the operations of the institution as a whole. RNP has fostered a gender-promotion environment that has enabled women to have a platform from which they can exercise their rights and freely contribute to the security and development of the country.
We are currently among the leading contributors of female police officers in peacekeeping missions, and among the few countries that has elaborated the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 action plan which urges all actors to increase the participation of women in conflict resolution.
Lastly, what has been the role of female police officers in addressing gender related issues during their time in missions?
Rwandan female officers, just like their male counterparts, have offered invaluable services during their stay in peacekeeping missions. They have been well-known for promoting gender equality in their mission areas, and also training local residents in life skills.
Rwandan peacekeeper Sgt. Felicite Mujawamariya was awarded with a medal of excellence by the UN for her outstanding performance in reform and restructuring as the UN Team Site Commander in Darfur. Another, CIP Antoinette Umuraza, was recently appointed the chairperson of the United Nations Police (UNPOL) Women Network under the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
These are just a few examples that indicate the kind of work they are offering in those areas and we are optimistic that the contribution of Rwandan female peacekeepers will grow even more in the future.
Peacekeeping operations serve as one of the international community’s most effective tools to manage threats to peace and security. Rwanda’s commitment to peacekeeping is based on the firm belief that the international community has a responsibility to prevent conflict and to act when confronted with challenges to peace and security. This perspective is informed by the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and the failure of the international community to intervene and protect the lives of more than one million innocent civilians.
Rwanda deployed its first peacekeepers to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) in 2004. The country’s involvement in United Nations peacekeeping began with a modest contribution in May 2005 with the deployment of one military observer to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). Today, Rwanda is the fifth largest Troop and Police Contributing Country in the UN, with over 5,000 troops currently serving in peacekeeping operations around the world.
Since 2004, Rwanda’s peacekeeping efforts have grown in size and scope. In November 2007, the first Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) infantry battalion was deployed in the United Nations African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). Since then, more than 40,000 Rwandan peacekeepers have completed a tour of duty with different missions, including:
– African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS)
– United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)
– United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS)
– United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)
– United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA)
“Rwandan peacekeepers, in Sudan’s Darfur region, have done more than just keeping peace. Through Quick Impact Projects, the RDF peacekeepers introduced aggressive peacekeeping and engaged in health, infrastructure development (schools, markets) water and sanitation projects in order to improve the living conditions of local residents. All these human activities are aimed at protecting civilians,” said Brig Gen Joseph Nzabamwita, Rwanda’s Defence and Military Spokesperson.
Rwandan female peacekeepers in Darfur have protected vulnerable women and girls in situations of conflict and engaged in activities aimed at fostering conflict resolution mechanisms which have directly impacted lives in Darfur. By imitating Rwanda’s home grown and post conflict initiatives, the country’s peacekeepers in Darfur have helped people in Darfur rebuild their lives.
“I am so thankful to the Rwandan soldiers who have combined peacekeeping with projects that have helped to positively change our ways of living. These stoves (rondereza) have helped us a lot in this camp. It has even reduced the risk of our women being raped while searching for firewood. I wish the project can be extended to every household in North Darfur,” Sheikh Ally, a community leader beneficiary of the energy saving stoves locally known as “rondereza’, testified.
Rwanda’s peacekeepers underlined that the projects helped them to build strong relationships with the local community, which fostered confidence and trust and helped them to better carry out their mandate of protecting civilians.
With other contingents present in Darfur, the region is stabilised. Rwanda’s role has been significant, including providing leaders for challenging UN missions, such as the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). The current RDF Chief of Defence Staff, General Patrick Nyamvumba, served three terms as UNAMID Force Commander.
Rwanda was the first country to intervene in Darfur. Today it maintains three infantry battalions of servicemen and women including 59 military observers, staff and liaison officers. The country is also supporting the African Union/United Nations mission in Sudan.