By Ambassador Claver Gatete
During the 2015 International Peace Conference on the Protection of Civilians held in Kigali, H.E President Paul Kagame said, “The central purpose of peace operations is the protection of civilians. This cannot be said often enough. The mission is to protect the ordinary people most at risk.”
Rwanda’s perspective on peacekeeping is informed by the tragic history of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, our commitment to ‘Never Again,’ and the Kigali Principles for the Protection of Civilians. It is also motivated by our strong national belief that human security should endeavor to address whatever causes harm to civilians, including, but not limited to:
- Health: We engage in medical outreach to give healthcare to the most vulnerable.
- Environment: We encourage community engagement such as doing “Umuganda” (community cleaning) to improve sanitation and strengthen environmental protection.
- Food: We include lessons on farming, backyard kitchen garden, and more to help achieve food security.
- Construction of classrooms to facilitate access to education.
- And lastly, rehabilitation of boreholes and water distribution to fight water-borne diseases.
Today, peacekeepers are implementing mandates in very challenging and rapidly changing security environments. For this reason, the Government of Rwanda values partnerships between relevant stakeholders as they help ensure that peacekeepers are deployed in missions with a clear mindset and the required capacities needed to best protect civilians.
Partnering in peacekeeping is necessary for capacity building, training, and bridging capabilities gap: No country can do this alone. Rwanda, therefore, remains committed to high-level collaboration at bilateral and multilateral levels to better protect civilians in conflict.
Going forward, Rwanda looks forward to increasing participation in peacekeeping to maintain global peace and security, by deploying new technologies and medical capabilities for better mandate delivery.