President Paul Kagame has questioned the United Nations Peacekeeping approach towards civilian protection in conflict zones.
“Deployment is too slow. Vague mandates and unclear rules of engagement inhibit indecisive action to protect civilians,” Kagame said.
The President made the remarks on May 28, while opening an International Conference on Protection of Civilians, at Serena Hotel in Rwanda’s capital Kigali.
The conference has attracted delegates from 30 countries involved in different peacekeeping operations around the World and UN’s top financiers of peacekeeping operations.
The UN spends nearly $8.5 billion on peacekeeping operations, to maintain 91,962 troops including 13, 122 Police Officers, 1781 Military Observers and 17, 092 Civilians deployed in 120 fragile countries around the World.
Kagame, who led a rebel group that stopped the genocide against Tutsi in 1994, is still unconvinced on UN’s effective utilization of resources.
Rwanda is still nursing a betrayal scar by United Nations, after failing to protect over a million Rwandan civilians who were slaughtered during the genocide
Kagame told hundreds of delegates that, “The international community’s decision to walk away from the genocide in 1994 was a disgrace that had to be reckoned with.”
In 1994, the Un had deployed close to 2000 troops in Rwanda. The number was later reduced to 250 at a time killings escalated.
Gen. Romeo Dallaire, then commander of the force, who was in Rwanda in April for a visit said, “I informed my bosses on a possible deployment of more troops, addressed on how genocide was happening in Rwanda but nothing was done. Media was the only weapon I remained with. All UN troops had been called back.”
With such practices within the UN, Kagame, whose country is globally ranked as the 15th biggest contributor of peacekeepers, with close to 5000 troops, said that the “central purpose of peace operations is protection of civilians not of peace agreements, UN mandates or politicians.”
Dr. Charles Kabwete Mulinda, a scholar on peace and security at University of Rwanda proposed that regional countries should use their troops to protect civilians before deploying UN peacekeepers.
For Kagame, “That responsibility lies first and foremost with the state concerned but it does not stop there. We therefore need to keep improving our ability to detect and share critical information about threats to civilian life.”