President Paul Kagame says that with the ongoing conflicts and instability across the globe that continue to claim the lives of many, it appears the world did not learn much from what happened in Rwanda three decades ago.
The Head of State made the observation at the 11th World Governments Summit (WGS) which opened in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday, bringing together leaders, experts and senior officials from more than 150 countries, to address future trends and shifts on the global level as well as ways to foster collaboration regionally and globally.
During a one-on-one conversation with CNN News Anchor and Middle East Correspondent, Eleni Giokos, President Kagame was asked if the developments in Gaza-Palestine, which some have equated to an ongoing genocide, signify that the world did not learn much from the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, and he answered in affirmative but said the issue goes beyond what is happening in the Middle East.
“Lessons learned are always talked about, but I don’t see many in the world learning lessons. We should be learning from history, from many things that have happened, from a lot of events, in the case of Rwanda, we had tragedy of the century, more less, and there wasn’t much in terms of mobilisation for what was happening to be stopped or being prevented,”
“But at least we were left with an opportunity to learn from it. We have learned ourselves, the world has learned, but when you see so many things happening in the world, you question whether lessons were learned. It is not just in Gaza, it is in many parts of the world, so many conflicts, things happening that with the resources in the world and with the power in hands of some people, these things should not be happening,”
President Kagame said that it meant the influence and the resources ‘big countries’ have in their hands are not being put to good use, which is why the world is seeing more conflicts, instability and loss of life to alarming levels.
He also responded to a question on whether different efforts by the international community have not helped quell the conflict, pointing out that it is very true countries, regions and international institutions did not do much to prevent, later on, stop the conflict.
“In fact they [international community] should have been there to ensure that there is capacity that you need to prevent these things that consume people’s lives like they are worthless,” he said, adding that action should have been taken quickly to stop and prevent but it did not happen.
“There’s a big question mark therefore to those in whose hands is so much power, that they have all kinds of resources to use for that to happen and yet it doesn’t help. We need to go back to the basics. There must be things that people know,” he said in reference to things that can be done to prevent conflicts.
Part of what can be done is preventing politics and other factors that cause divisions and conflicts, something he said there isn’t anything the world doesn’t know in regard to the causes of conflict, just as the world knew when it was happening in Rwanda. He pointed out that what needs to be done is to have the will and committing the resources to stop conflicts.
“I don’t know what is new that I would call on the world to do more, that we didn’t call on the world to do at the time the Genocide was happening. That is a very significant signal that the world is not learning much from what is happening, or what has happened in the past, to be able to prevent such a situation from occurring,”
” For those of us who have experienced these situations and circumstances, we have learnt our lesson: countries need to build their own capacities,” President Kagame said.
He said for Rwanda, which has experienced bloodshed and other challenges, it learnt lessons from its past and built the capacity to ensure that what happened doesn’t happen again and to always know that ‘you are on your own’ when such tragedies strike, emphasizing why it is important for countries to build their own strength.
President Kagame also spoke on the prospect of Africa having a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and the continent being represented in the G20, pointing out that these are developments that should have happened many years ago.
“Those two seats are long overdue. One would ask why did it not happen 10 , 20 years ago or even more? Why is it even being talked about now? In reality with the G0, it is beginning to happen,” he said, adding however that Africa itself needs to organise her house before anything else.
“We need to organise, to be together, to have a voice, a strong voice because there are many resources on our continent. Why don’t we leverage that, so that the rest of the world also is interested in working with us, in a cooperative way, rather than just telling people to follow, what they have decided? That is one part,”
“The other part is what I alluded to earlier. The power that is wielded by a number of countries in this world should also be used rationally and reasonably and get to understand that Africa, for example, is as important as they are,”
He said that it has to be understood that Africa is not there to be influenced to take sides according to the lines the powerful countries have decided or determined. Without addressing those two issues, he said global power will remain concentrated in the hands of few.