You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Susan Rice’ tag.
Very insightful New York Times story about Susan Rice and Rwanda.
WASHINGTON — Almost two decades after the Clinton administration failed to intervene in the genocide in Rwanda, the United States is coming under harsh criticism for not moving forcefully in another African crisis marked by atrocities and brutal killings, this time in Rwanda’s neighbor, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Susan E. Rice, the United States ambassador to the United Nations and a leading contender to succeed Mrs. Clinton, in the administration’s failure to take action against the country they see as a major cause of the Congolese crisis, Rwanda.
Specifically, these critics — who include officials of human rights organizations and United Nations diplomats — say the administration has not put enough pressure on Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, to end his support for the rebel movement whose recent capture of the strategic city of Goma in Congo set off a national crisis in a country that has already lost more than three million people in more than a decade of fighting. Rwanda’s support is seen as vital to the rebel group, known as M23.
Support for Mr. Kagame and the Rwandan government has been a matter of American foreign policy since he led the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front to victory over the incumbent government in July 1994, effectively ending the Rwandan genocide. But according to rights organizations and diplomats at the United Nations, Ms. Rice has been at the forefront of trying to shield the Rwandan government, and Mr. Kagame in particular, from international censure, even as several United Nations reports have laid the blame for the violence in Congo at Mr. Kagame’s door.
A senior administration official said Saturday that Ms. Rice was not freelancing, and that the American policy toward Rwanda and Congo was to work with all the countries in the area for a negotiated settlement to the conflict.
Aides to Ms. Rice acknowledge that she is close to Mr. Kagame and that Mr. Kagame’s government was her client when she worked at Intellibridge, a strategic analysis firm in Washington. Ms. Rice, who served as the State Department’s top African affairs expert in the Clinton administration, worked at the firm with several other former Clinton administration officials, including David J. Rothkopf, who was an acting under secretary in the Commerce Department; Anthony Lake, Mr. Clinton’s national security adviser; and John M. Deutch, who was director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Payton Knopf, a spokesman for Ms. Rice, initially declined to comment on whether her work with Rwanda at Intellibridge affected her dealings with the country in her present job as an ambassador. But on Monday, Mr. Knopf said: “Ambassador Rice’s brief consultancy at Intellibridge has had no impact on her work at the United Nations. She implements the agreed policy of the United States at the U.N.”
Two months ago, at a meeting with her French and British counterparts at the French Mission to the United Nations, according to a Western diplomat with knowledge of the meeting, Ms. Rice objected strongly to a call by the French envoy, Gerard Araud, for explicitly “naming and shaming” Mr. Kagame and the Rwandan government for its support of M23, and to his proposal to consider sanctions to pressure Rwanda to abandon the rebel group.
“Listen Gerard,” she said, according to the diplomat. “This is the D.R.C. If it weren’t the M23 doing this, it would be some other group.” The exchange was reported in Foreign Policy magazine last week.
A few weeks later, Ms. Rice again stepped in to protect Mr. Kagame. After delaying for weeks the publication of a United Nations report denouncing Rwanda’s support for the M23 and opposing any direct references to Rwanda in United Nations statements and resolutions on the crisis, Ms. Rice intervened to water down a Security Council resolution that strongly condemned the M23 for widespread rape, summary executions and recruitment of child soldiers. The resolution expressed “deep concern” about external actors supporting the M23. But Ms. Rice prevailed in preventing the resolution from explicitly naming Rwanda when it was passed on Nov. 20.
Mr. Knopf, the spokesman for Ms. Rice, said the view of the United States was that delicate diplomatic negotiations under way among Rwanda, Congo and Uganda could have been adversely affected if the Security Council resolution explicitly named Rwanda. “Working with our colleagues in the Security Council, the United States helped craft a strong resolution to reinforce the delicate diplomatic effort then getting under way in Kampala,” Mr. Knopf said.
The negotiations subsequently fell apart, and the M23 continued to make gains in eastern Congo. Last week, the M23 withdrew from Goma but left behind agents and remain in range of the city.
Mr. Knopf declined to confirm or deny the account offered by the United Nations diplomat about the conversation between Ms. Rice and the French ambassador. But he said that “Ambassador Rice has frequently and publicly condemned the heinous abuses perpetrated by the M23 in eastern Congo,” adding that the United States was “leading efforts to end the rebellion, including by leveling U.S. and U.N. sanctions against M23 leaders and commanders.”
Ms. Rice’s critics say that is the crux of the problem with the American response to the crisis in Congo: it ignores, for the most part, the role played by Mr. Kagame in backing the M23, and, as it happens, risks repeating the mistakes of the genocide by not erring on the side of aggressive action. “I fear that our collective regret about not stopping the Rwandan genocide, felt by all of us who worked for the Clinton administration, led to policies that overlooked more waves of atrocities in the Congo, which we should equally regret,” said Tom Malinowski, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch, who has worked closely with Ms. Rice both in the Clinton administration and after.
“For almost 20 years now, the premise of U.S. policy has been that quiet persuasion is the best way to restrain Rwanda from supporting war criminals in the Congo,” Mr. Malinowski said. “It might have made sense once, but after years of Rwanda doing what the U.S. has urged it not to do, contributing to massive civilian deaths, and ripping up U.N. resolutions that the U.S. sponsored, the time to speak plainly and impose penalties has come.”
When Mrs. Clinton appeared before reporters on Nov. 28 to talk about the M23’s seizure of Goma, she sprinkled her talking points with a demand that the rebel group withdraw, calling the humanitarian impact “devastating,” with 285,000 people forced to flee their homes, health workers abducted and killed, and civil workers under threat of death. But she made no mention of Rwanda’s role backing the rebel group, limiting her inclusion of Rwanda to a mention of negotiations with Rwanda, Uganda and the Congo to try to get a cease-fire.
“The M23 would probably no longer exist today without Rwandan support,” said Jason K. Stearns, author of “Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of Congo and the Great War of Africa.” “It stepped in to prevent the movement from collapsing and has been providing critical military support for every major offensive.”
Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, noted that the United States cut a portion of its military financing for Rwanda — around $250,000. But the Rwandan military continues to receive substantial American training, equipment and financial help. In an interview, he said, “There is not an ounce of difference between myself and Ambassador Rice on this issue,” adding that quiet diplomacy was better than publicly calling out Mr. Kagame.
Ms. Rice, who has been at the eye of a political storm over her portrayal of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the American Mission in Benghazi, Libya, declined to be interviewed for this article. But in recent days, she seems to have tried to publicly distance herself from the M23 — although still not from Mr. Kagame. On Dec. 3, she posted on her Facebook page: “The U.S. condemns in the strongest terms horrific M23 violence. Any and all external support has to stop,” in a reference to action in the Senate.
Her posting drew immediate responses. “Condemn the rape but don’t name the rapist?” one of them said. “What kind of Justice is that?
Paul Kagame’s replies to Susan Rice’s view on his human rights’ track record
I used to have a neighbour whose anti-social behaviour was notorious, but not as far as being criminally offensive. But each time any of his neighbours confronted him on his bad attitude he would do more of it. Luckily for the whole neighbourhood, one day they found out he had moved out to a different place nobody was interested in knowing where this was.
For four days, Susan Rice, US Ambassador at the UN visited Rwanda recently.Her government represents one of the main countries which have significantly supported Kagame’s regime since 1994. During her visit, the ambassador felt like someone who finds they cannot put under the carpet a disturbing behaviour from a neighbour, with whom they share much, or whose attitude could jeopardise their long term interests.
Among the many aspects she highlighted during her official speech at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, she pointed to the closed Rwandan political space. She said,
“Rwanda’s economic vitality has moved the country forward. Social progress has been substantial, yet the political culture in Rwanda remains comparatively closed. Press restrictions persist, civil society activists, journalists and political opponents of the government often fear organizing peacefully and speaking out. Some have been harassed, some have been intimidated by late night callers, and some have simply disappeared.”
“Yet, the world is moving rapidly in a different direction. Across the globe, including in societies where a common system rose that freedom would never arise, we’re seeing people demand the right to chart their own future. To organize peaceful demonstrations and to criticize their own governments. From Tunisia, the demand to be heard has spread across North Africa and the Middle East…”
“…They will keep speaking out because they have a universal right to do so. And they know it. These rights: freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, freedom to organize peacefully, are just as valid, just as inherent in Asia, in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa as they are in Europe, America or the Middle East.”
On 26/11/11, Paul Kagame responded to US Ambassador’s critic of his human rights track record by saying that,
“With regard to good governance, democracy or human rights, when there is equal opportunity, and you are the first to promote for example women’s rights, which were inexistent, if you tell me that that’s not democracy, or in line with human rights, you must be mad ([ugomba kuba uri umurwayi] – in Kinyarwanda (Rwandan national language). “
Paul Kagame, who was speaking during a general public community work [umuganda] added that,
“…It’s 100 or 150 people out of ten millions! Among them there are those who voice idiocies, there are those who have destructive ideas. While we are busy building the country that you want to destroy, we will destroy you. And we don’t have to apologize for that! It’s the same for those who aspire to democracy !
And a few days later, Paul Kagame, in order to prove that he meant what he had publicly announced, one of his political prisoners, Bernard Ntaganda, Chairman of PS-Imberakuri, saw his conditions of imprisonment hardened.
In fact, in the night of 30/11 leading to 01/12, the prisoner was moved out of his usual cell then seriously tortured for several hours. As this is reported by his party, he was thereafter taken into a location inside the prison but away from where other political prisoners are normally held, but conditions are more inhuman.
Paul Kagame, must be planning to put his political prisoners into ‘Room 101,’ like the one George Orwell describes in his Nineteen eighty four novel, where those who resist Big Brother’s indoctrination, are forcibly pushed into loving their master. It is not enough to obey him.
Kagame offers up more clichés to Susan Rice’s criticism’s
AD, just in case some of our pen-fighters may have missed this, there is the debate of the absurd between President Obama government and our dictator here in Rwanda. You may remember that President Obama’s UN Envoy Susan Rice recently stated the obvious about the terrible situation Dictator Kagame has created in Rwanda:
- “Civil society activists, journalists, and political opponents of the government often fear organizing peacefully and speaking out.”
- “Some have been harassed. Some have been intimidated by late-night callers. Some have simply disappeared.”
- The political culture in Rwanda under President Paul Kagame’s government “remains comparatively closed.”
- “Press restrictions persist.”
- “In Rwanda, economic development and political openness should reinforce each other.”
- Over 11 million Rwandans can say what they want, where they want, using means he, Kagame has put in place, including modern internet infrastructure.
- Rwandans choose the leaders they want.
- His regime has done everything possible to promote citizen’s development.
- It is impossible to understand why outsiders conclude that Rwandans do not have space to express themselves.
Kagame, why do you abuse the entire world’s intelligence? Frankly we Rwandans fail to understand why President Obama does not let you find your way into the dustbin. As we all know, a federal court in Oklahoma recently dismissed a lawsuit against the Rwandan dictator for killing his predecessor. And guess who stood by the Rwandan dictator – President Obama, whose administration urged the court to recognize Kagame’s immunity in the United States.
And now, the same Obama government gives the dictator good advice, by stating the known and arguing common sense, the Rwandan butcher comes swinging with his usual lies, arrogance, rudeness and dismissive crudeness.
Dictator Kagame, you should do well to read to piece in Kenya’s Standard Newspaper on Africa dictators, and how they live lavishly but die ingloriously.
Butcher Kagame, the author of this article has you in mind when he states the following:
“When the going is good, African dictators run their countries unchallenged as if they were their private property, thanks to the absolute power they wield. But their exit from power has acquired something of a predictable refrain: They bow out in utter disgrace and hatred, partly because of the near utopian they live in and cavernous appetite for material riches that exposes the ruled to abject poverty.”
Your end is near – brought about by your reckless abuse of the very American hand that sustains you. But it is us the Rwandans that have the responsibility of dumping you in the bin. You bet we working on it. Yes indeed, do enjoy your $100,000,000.00 jets, $20,000.00 hotel rooms, and education of your children at fancy American schools, but like fellow dictators, you will sooner end ingloriously.
By Heather Murdock
Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) — U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice criticized Rwanda’s “comparatively closed” political culture and said the East African nation should take steps to broaden democracy.
Restrictions on the media, harassment of civil-society activists, opposition figures and journalists as well as the disappearance of some of them pose the “next developmental challenge” for the country, Rice said in a copy of a speech delivered at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology in the capital today.
“The deepening and broadening of democracy can be the next great achievement of this great country and its remarkable people,” she said. “Economic development and political; openness should reinforce each other.”
A genocide in Rwanda in 1994 that left more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead led the Rwanda government to introduce laws that stifle free speech and political opposition, Amnesty International, the London-based advocacy group, said in June. A presidential elections last year, in which President Paul Kagame won 93 percent of the vote, was marked by a “clampdown on freedom of expression,” it said.
The government called the report “inaccurate” and said it reviewing genocide-ideology and sectarianism laws, while also taking steps to develop its media.
Rice, who is on a four-day diplomatic mission to Rwanda, praised Rwanda for its economic growth and technical capabilities, saying per capita gross domestic product has tripled since the genocide.
Rwanda’s economy doubled in size in the nine years through 2010, according to the World Bank. The government forecasts growth will be 8.8 percent this year.
Nov 26, 2011 (United States Department of State/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) — Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations,
At the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology on “Building a New Nation: Rwanda’s Progress and Potential,” November 23, 2011
Good evening, everyone. Thank you very much for coming out and thank you for welcoming me to the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. I want to thank very much and warmly from the bottom of my heart the Foreign Minister for her very kind introduction. Honorable ministers, thank you also for being here. I’d like to thank the Rector of the Kigali Institute for hosting me today and for all the great work that went into pulling this event together. And I’d also like to thank my colleague, Ambassador Don Koran, the American ambassador to Rwanda and his entire team at the U.S. Embassy for their assistance as well.
I have come to Rwanda to bear witness to the remarkable progress you have made against all odds.
Rwanda holds its own tragic place in the 20th century’s grim litany of mass violence. As you know so well, the evil of genocide came swiftly, home by home, in the form of men with machetes, calls to murder hissed out over transistor radios, lists of innocents for slaughter. Deliberate, direct cruelties that still leave us shocked and shaken.
Rwanda did not suffer from so-called “ancient hatreds.” It suffered from modern demagogues: from the ex-FAR, the Interahamwe, Radio Mille Collines. It suffered from those who were willing to kill in the name of difference, from those who saw division and death as the path to power. And it suffered from the indifference of neighbors, international institutions, and individual governments – including my own – that failed to act in the face of a vast, unfolding evil.
Tomorrow, I will take my husband and two children to the genocide memorial here in Kigali, so they can experience what I have learned in my prior visits. We will pay our respects both to those forever lost and to the brave survivors, who challenge us all even to comprehend their enduring sacrifices and extraordinary strength.
Today, I am here as an American ambassador. But I also will speak for myself, from my heart. I visited Rwanda for the very first time in December 1994, six months after the genocide ended. I was a young Director on the National Security Council staff at the White House, accompanying the then-National Security Advisor, Anthony Lake. I was responsible then for issues relating to the United Nations and peacekeeping. And needless to say, we saw first-hand the spectacular consequences of the poor decisions taken by those countries, including my own and yours, that were then serving on the United Nations Security Council.
I will never forget the horror of walking through a church and an adjacent schoolyard where one of the massacres had occurred. Six months later, the decomposing bodies of those who had been so cruelly murdered still lay strewn around what should have been a place of peace. For me, the memory of stepping around and over those corpses will remain the most searing reminder imaginable of what humans can do to one another. Those images stay with me in the work I do today, ensuring that I can never forget how important it is for all of us to prevent genocide from recurring.
Here, after three long months, the genocide finally ended. But the destruction was hardly over. Up to a million dead. Another million refugees scattered across borders, including thousands of genocidaire eager to resume battle. Zaire was their rear base, and the refugees in U.N.-supported camps were their hostages. Rwanda, according to the World Bank, in just a few months had become the poorest country on earth. And within a few short years, it sent forces into neighboring Congo. “Africa’s first world war,” as it was called, claimed millions more lives from battle and disease.
Yet, even as war still raged, another story was beginning to play itself out. The people and the new government envisioned a different Rwanda, one where reconciliation replaced division, where healing helped salve deep wounds, where self-sufficiency could eventually defeat despair.
Having endured the worst, you nonetheless aspired for the best.
First, you worked to address the past, so your future could come sooner. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is finally winding down. Gacaca courts, adapting traditional justice practices to the overwhelming task of separating the innocent from the small fish, and the small fish from the most guilty planners and perpetrators, brought a measure of justice and reconciliation. Many former ex-FAR-Interahamwe militants have been reintegrated into society. Though much more remains to be done, the processing of cases, the commuting of sentences to community service, and the building of new jails have combined to reduce the number of prisoners by half over the past decade.
Gradually, deliberately, Rwanda has been trying to make itself whole.
Over time, you have implemented enlightened gender policies, advanced new development models, insisted on clean government, and made forward-looking investments.
You are living in the midst of astonishing change. I know that perhaps in the stress of daily life, it might not seem like much. Undoubtedly, you want more and faster change – more development, more opportunity, more freedom. And you deserve it. Your progress, of course, has been uneven, with economic development far outpacing political development. But, as you naturally strive for a brighter future, don’t lose sight of how far you have come. To many Americans and other foreigners, what you have achieved in seventeen short years is truly impressive. It gives us hope and new models. It shows other developing countries emerging from conflict what can be accomplished with effective policies and committed citizens. South Sudan, Liberia, the Central African Republic, Haiti, Guinea, Nepal and many others would do well to take a couple pages from the book you have begun to write for Rwanda.
As President Obama said last year at the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit, when he launched our Global Development Initiative: we “seek partners who want to build their own capacity to provide for their people. Because the days when your development was dictated in foreign capitals must come to an end.”
Rwanda is just such a partner.
Starting with women. The genocide and war reduced the male population disproportionately, leaving a leadership vacuum. The government and international donors – notably the United Nations Development Program and the Inter-Parliamentary Union – turned this into an opportunity. Women were trained in parliamentary leadership, and 30 percent of parliamentary seats were reserved for women. Yet by 2003, women had won 48 percent of the seats in the lower house, more than a third of which were unreserved seats. In 2008, women as you know took an even greater share: 45 out of 80 seats, making Rwanda the only country in the world to this day with a female parliamentary majority. This puts the rest of us to shame.
Economically, you’ve made an astonishing recovery: per capita gross domestic product has tripled since 1994. The foundation for this growth of course has been agriculture. The government, with external support, has reduced soil erosion through terracing and tree planting. It’s promoted effective use of fertilizers and pesticides, which has increased production. Consolidation of landholdings is slowly transforming farm production from subsistence to industrial levels, despite its complexities. Over the last decade, agriculture has grown at 5 percent or more per year. The United States is proud to play a small part in that growth through President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative.
At the same time, you have seen your economy diversify. Eco-tourism is becoming a major success. The services sector is now the largest in the economy, growing at about 10 percent a year.
The driver of Rwanda’s development is, first and foremost, the commitment of its people as well as the government to make development a priority. Combined with determined and able governance, a firm belief in innovation and entrepreneurship, and high-quality foreign aid that comes from meaningful and genuine partnerships; and a deliberate strategy for engaging the free market, this commitment is translating into tangible results.
Balancing all these factors is never easy. And let’s be honest, no government today can claim to be getting it exactly right when it comes to economic governance and performance. Still, Rwanda is making striking progress. The World Bank’s “Doing Business in 2012″ analysis once again raised Rwanda’s ranking: it is now 45 out of 183 countries. Not so long ago, Rwanda was ranked 141. That is a massive leap.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report now ranks Rwanda the 70th most competitive economy in the world; just two years ago, it was the 80th. The World Economic Forum gave extremely high ratings to Rwanda in three areas: participation of women in the labor force, the ease of starting a business, and the cleanliness of government. Today, I had the opportunity to visit Kigali’s One-Stop Shop, One-Stop Center, the Rwanda Development Board, and saw firsthand that it is easy to start a business here in Rwanda. And Rwanda’s policies aimed at rooting out corruption only make it easier. In its most recent global-corruption report, Transparency International rated Rwanda the least corrupt country in East Africa.
Yet, perhaps the greatest challenge of all, the one that takes generations to accomplish, is building human capital – raising up the health, education, and skills of a nation.
Rwanda has focused on primary education; thus, you are investing in the future. Roughly 43 percent as you know of your population is under the age of 15. Education spending has risen steadily as a share of Gross Domestic Product and now accounts for about a fifth of your national budget. The bulk of this goes to basic education, through the 9th grade. Literacy rates have risen already from 58 percent in 1999 to 71 percent in 2009. This year, the government proposed increasing free universal education from nine years to twelve and continues to invest heavily in teacher training to raise the quality of instruction.
Healthier children of course make better students, and my country has devoted much of our assistance to improving health care here. Whether you are measuring immunization rates or the use of insecticide-treated bed nets, healthcare practices here are improving. Basic health insurance is accessible to almost all Rwandans, which is more than I can say for the United States. The share of government expenditure devoted to healthcare has more than tripled since 1996. The mortality rate for children under five has, in just five years, been reduced by more than half. Yes. And thanks to agricultural policies, protein and calorie production have reached international standards.
Rwandans are swiftly becoming better educated, better fed, and better cared for.
As a small, densely populated, landlocked and mountainous country, Rwanda has few natural assets that can facilitate economies or fuel trade. So the government is looking to digital technology to build virtual ports and shrink the distance between Rwanda and the global economy. Information and communications technologies are critical to developing both the productive capacity and the human capital that together form the foundation for lasting economic growth. The number of internet users in Rwanda more than doubled in the last few years. It is certain to increase much more as the country’s fiber-optic network – completed just last year – gets fully up to speed. Cellular and wireless access will help transform Rwandan society.
Advanced technology though does more than just ease communication. Most developing countries have sought to get their energy the cheapest way they can, which is usually the dirtiest: by chopping and burning trees, burning diesel fuel, or burning coal. Rwanda is taking advantage of technology and its own natural gift of water to build a hydro-power industry, which already accounts for half of the country’s electricity generation. You also have projects underway to transform dangerous methane gas into a clean source of electricity.
As a member of the East Africa Community, Rwanda is helping build a larger market that will foster intra-regional trade, spur investment in infrastructure, agriculture and energy, and strengthen all of the Community’s members by harmonizing policies and practices. Similarly, the U.S.-Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty, which was just ratified by our Senate in September, will solidify business ties between our two countries.
Rwanda’s economic and social progress has also been accompanied by a parallel rise in its international stature – from a collapsed and divided state, to a respected partner in security and development. Relations with your neighbors have improved markedly. Even more, you’ve taken the terrible materials of the past and transformed them into a mission to bring peace.
Rwanda’s peacekeeping contributions began in 2004 with the deployment of less than a couple hundred military personnel to Darfur as part of the African Union mission. Now, there are 3,500 Rwandans involved in UN missions around the world. While most of Rwanda’s peacekeepers serve in Sudan, they have also proved valuable in Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, the Central African Republic, and Chad.
Rwanda has paid the ultimate price on these missions, losing its sons. And I want to send, extend my personal sympathies and those of my government to the families of Sergeant John Twahirwa and Private Samuel Ntakirutimana, who gave their lives in Darfur just a few weeks ago.
For Rwanda, peacekeeping is practiced not in isolation, but also within the context of development. In Sudan, Rwandan soldiers have spread the Umuganda work tradition. They’ve manufactured bricks to build schools, and introduced rondereza – energy-efficient stoves – so women will not run such a risk of attack while searching for firewood.
Taking its commitments onto the global stage, Rwanda is now the current chair of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission. And it’s been my privilege to work closely with your Ambassador to the United Nations Eugene Gasana in advancing that commission’s agenda to help war-torn societies reconcile, rebuild and develop. The Peacebuilding Commission is part of a broad set of reforms adopted at the United Nations in 2005, including a new doctrine known as “the responsibility to protect.”
This doctrine requires that the international community protect civilians even at the expense of a national government’s sovereignty, if and when that government fails to protect its own citizens – or, worse still – is attacking them itself. This is a concept with special significance for Rwanda. And as you would expect, Rwanda is known globally as a strong and principled proponent of the responsibility to protect.
Every situation is different, and of course each situation calls for a different policy response. Yet many of us heard strong echoes of 1994 when Muammar Qaddafi promised he would root out the people of Benghazi and go house to house killing innocents like “rats” as he called them. Just yesterday, as the Foreign Minister said, I was in Libya. And there, I visited a detention facility that Qaddafi’s forces had torched before retreating from Tripoli. Over 100 people were killed by bullets and grenades in one small warehouse, and then their remains were lit on fire.
I knew from my visit to Rwanda in 1994 that such atrocities were likely in Libya, if Qaddafi went unchecked. I knew we should act, and so did President Obama.
Despite the risks and the costs, President Obama was determined not to sit back and watch another predictable horror unfold before his eyes. He knew that doing nothing would not only again stain our national conscience but also deliver a license to dictators to kill the Arab Spring in its very crib. He knew it would also send a terrible message about the international community’s inability to act – even with a call for help from the Libyan people and the Arab League, even with the capability to stop a massacre that would have left tens, if not hundreds, of thousands dead.
My President refused to let that happen. Knowing a no-fly zone alone would be too little too late, President Obama ordered me to try to get from the United Nations Security Council a robust mandate to protect civilians, one that allowed the aggressive use of airpower to halt Qaddafi’s advance. This time, the Security Council acted. And acted in time. Having failed in Rwanda, having failed in Darfur, it did not fail again in Libya. Within less than two days, American firepower played a decisive role in stopping Qaddafi’s forces and saving Benghazi, and our coalition continued its efforts to protect the Libyan people.
Because we all acted, countless men, women and children were spared. Because we acted, the Libyan people had the time and the space to end the Qaddafi regime and start a new beginning. Because we acted, the international community gave meaning to the promises that have been made by so many so many times here on Rwandan soil – that we will not stand idly by when we have the capability to stop an atrocity.
That is also why the United States is sending military advisors to support Central African states as they try to put an end to decades of war crimes committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army.
When it came to Libya, many African nations were silent, skeptical or even harshly critical of the decision to intervene to protect innocents. Not Rwanda. Alone among African nations outside the Security Council, Rwanda readily and publicly agreed. “Our responsibility to protect is unquestionable,” President Kagame said. And I further quote: “This is the right thing to do, and this view is backed with the authority of having witnessed and suffered the terrible consequences of international inaction.” So Rwanda has not just moved beyond its own genocide, it has consistently led by example, from Darfur to Libya, in standing up against those who would commit genocide or mass atrocities.
I have visited Rwanda now several times, and as always, I come here as a friend. This time, for the first time, I will be joined by my family. I want them to see your beautiful country and to learn what can be accomplished when a proud people unite in common cause. I want them also to witness and take inspiration from your achievements.
I believe as well that friends should speak frankly to friends.
Rwanda’s economic vitality has moved the country forward. Social progress has been substantial. Yet, the political culture in Rwanda remains comparatively closed. Press restrictions persist. Civil society activists, journalists, and political opponents of the government often fear organizing peacefully and speaking out. Some have been harassed. Some have been intimidated by late-night callers. Some have simply disappeared.
Yet, the world is moving rapidly in a different direction. Across the globe, including in societies where the common wisdom was that freedom would never arrive, we’re seeing people demand the right to chart their own future, to organize peaceful demonstrations, and to criticize their own governments. From an angry young fruit seller in Tunisia, the demand to be heard has spread across North Africa and the Middle East. It has been taken up in Egypt. Then Libyans demanded the end to Qaddafi’s 42 years of tyranny. Today, Syrians and Yemenis are being killed by their governments simply for saying what they think about their leaders and their future. But they will keep speaking out, because they have a universal right to do so. And they know it.
These rights to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, freedom to organize peacefully, are just as vital, just as inherent in Asia, in Latin America and in Sub-Saharan Africa as they are in Europe, America or the Middle East. As President Kagame said, and I quote, “The uprising in Libya has already sent a powerful — excuse me — has already sent a message to leaders in Africa and beyond. It is that if we lose touch with our people, if we do not serve them as they deserve and address their needs, there will be consequences. Their grievances will accumulate – and no matter how much time passes, they can turn against you.”
The deepening and the broadening of democracy can be the next great achievement of this great country and its remarkable people. In Rwanda, economic development and political openness can reinforce each other. This is Rwanda’s next great developmental challenge. And, with all that you have achieved over the past 17 years, I am confident you will pass this milestone as well.
Already, you are an example to all nations of what can be accomplished. You are an example to all nations of what can be accomplished after disaster strikes. Nothing can bring back what this nation has sacrificed. Grief wanes, but it never ends. Yet, we also know that the living must do credit to the lost, by building the future they should have been here to help build. A nation, just like a people, can overcome. Rwanda is proof.
Nearly half of Rwandans today were born after the genocide ended. The generation that came through the genocide is passing on a country much more rich with possibility, healthier, better educated, and at peace. I am grateful to witness your extraordinary progress. And, I am proud to affirm that the United States will continue to stand with you, in friendship and partnership, as you take Rwanda to the next level of development and democracy.
Thank you, very, very much.
Copyright United States Department of State. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
Kigali, Ruanda (AFP) – Rwanda should end harassment of opposition supporters to allow greater political openness for the country to develop, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations Susan Rice said on an official visit Wednesday.
“Civil society activists, journalists, and political opponents of the government often fear organizing peacefully and speaking out,” Rice said in a speech in the Rwandan capital.
The political culture in Rwanda under President Paul Kagame’s government “remains comparatively closed “Rice said, adding that” press restrictions persist.”
Rwanda, a small central African country, was left devastated by 1994 genocide where some 800,000 people were massacred in a span of 100 days.
But Rice, in a speech titled, “building a new nation”, also praised the “extraordinary progress” of the nation since then and stressed continued U.S. support.
“The deepening and broadening of democracy can be the next great achievement of this great country and its remarkable people,” she said.
“In Rwanda, economic development and political openness should reinforce each other.”
Rwanda has been accused of restricting opposition and press freedom in the past. Human rights group Amnesty International criticised Kigali in June of stifling dissent and jailing government critics, including journalists.
Earlier this year Western countries in the UN human rights council raised concerns about attacks and restrictions on freedom of speech.
Rice, who visited Kigali six months after the genocide, said she would visit a memorial to those killed on Thursday with her family to pay her respects.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice has arrived in Rwanda for a four-day diplomatic mission focused on economic, agricultural and health development. She says despite impressive growth in these sectors, political life in Rwanda remains, as she puts it, “comparatively closed.”
U.S. ambassador Susan Rice heaps praise upon Rwanda, saying in the past 17 years, the country has made leaps in economic development, international relations, business savvy, environment, health care, technology and women’s rights.
For example, she says, spurred by the disproportionate number of men killed in the 1994 genocide that left 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead, Rwanda has skyrocketed ahead of most of the world in empowering women.
“In 2008, women took an even greater share: 45 out of 80 seats, making Rwanda the only country in the world to this day with a female parliamentary majority,” said Rice. “This puts the rest of us to shame.”
In her comments, made in Kigali Wednesday, Rice also called Rwanda a “friend” to whom she can speak frankly. She says Rwanda may be growing healthier, richer and more educated, but in the politically the East African nation is lagging.
“Press restrictions persist. Civil society activists, journalists, and political opponents of the government often fear organizing peacefully and speaking out,” said Rice. “Some have been harassed. Some have been intimidated by late-night callers. Some have simply disappeared.”
In June, Amnesty International criticized Rwanda’s human rights record, saying that last year’s elections, in which President Paul Kagame won 93 percent of the vote, were “marked with a clampdown on free expression.”
The Rwandan government called that report “inaccurate.” It additionally described a Human Rights Watch report that criticizes Rwanda’s justice system as “nonsense.”
Rice also praised the Rwandan government, known for its tough stance against corruption, and Rwanda’s technological advances, saying internet users have more than doubled in the past few years. Technology, she says, will “transform Rwandan society.”