|Rwanda in its Regional Context: Human Rights, Reconciliation and Rehabilitation (North South Centre)|
ORDER OF SPEAKERS
MR HANS VAN MIERLO
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
MR DANIEL TARSCHYS
Secretary General of the Council of Europe
PRESIDENT ZINE EL ABIDINE BEN ALI
His Excellency the President of the Republic of Tunisia, President in Office of the Organisation of African Unity
MR HABIB BEN YAHIA
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia
MR IVO DUBOIS
Director, Representative of the European Commission,
Directorate General for External Political Relations
MR HENK ZOMER
Vice-President of the Liaison Committee of Development NGOs to the European Union
AMBASSADOR LAYASHI YAKER
Under-Secretary General of the United Nations,
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
MR MACHIVENYIKA T. MAPURANGA
Assistant Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity
PRESIDENT PASTEUR BIZIMUNGU
His Excellency the President of the Republic of Rwanda
MR JOSE AYALA LASSO
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
MR IBRAHIMA FALL
Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights,
Head of the United Nations Centre for Human Rights
VOTE OF THANKS
Delivered on behalf of the International Conference by
MR PAUL KAWANGA SSEMOGERERE
Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda
PRESIDENT PASTEUR BIZIMUNGU
"The terrible events in Rwanda cannot be followed yet again after several precedents in the history of this troubled country - by lawlessness and impunity.
It will be extremely difficult to escape a new traumatic chain reaction of revenge and violence if a legal vacuum persists:'
MR DANIEL TARSCHYS
Secretary General of the Council of Europe
MR HANS VAN MIERLO
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
We are gathered here today to discuss how the crisis in Rwanda arose and how we can help the country. Africa has had more than its fair share of suffering but the tragedy that befell Rwanda was unprecedented in scope. There seem to be no limits to manmade disasters and, indeed, a man-made disaster it was.
As we now know, the massacres were planned. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Rwanda, Mr Degni-Si and, among others, the European Union, use the word "genocide" to describe what happened. With Resolution 935, the Security Council installed a Commission of Experts to analyse information on evidence of grave violations in Rwanda of international humanitarian law, including genocide. I hope that the report of this Commission will soon be available. Those responsible for the very serious violations should be tried by an international tribunal.
Although the massacres have stopped, the crisis is far from over and the President and government of Rwanda face a difficult task. I am particularly pleased that His Excellency President Bizimungu could be present among us here today along with several members of his government. Mr President, you have accepted a most formidable task at a difficult time and I pay tribute to you for having assumed such a great responsibility!
Let me, at this point, also say how much I value the presence in our midst of my colleague Mr Habib Ben Yahia of Tunisia, the country currently holding the chair of the Organisation of African Unity. This autonomous organisation has an important role to play in helping to solve regional crises such as the one which occurred in Rwanda. Clearly, regional organisations can provide crucial support to the United Nations in maintaining peace and security. Regional solidarity is also apparent here today through the presence of my colleagues, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Uganda and Zaire.
As I said, the crisis in Rwanda is not yet over. Millions of people are living in refugee camps in neighbouring countries and it is absolutely vital that they return to their homes. The same applies to the sizeable number of internally displaced persons. I think we would all agree that repatriation is priority number one. There are many reasons why this should be so but I will single out one in particular: refugee camps are liable to become breeding-grounds for further violence and this is precisely the kind of situation that could lead to new rounds of fighting. Indeed, there have already been reports of raids and incursions.
Here lies the big dilemma for the current relief effort and one with which relief workers are doubtless grappling every day. On the one hand, there is an obvious need to help the refugees: they need food, water, tents, everything. (The relief agencies and NGOs are doing a superb job under the most difficult circumstances and indeed they have achieved almost the impossible). Yet, on the other hand, there is one nagging question: are we unwittingly prolonging the remnants of a political and social structure that led to the massacres in the first place?
There are two situations hindering the repatriation of the Rwandan refugees. Firstly, there is ample evidence that the people in the camps are being intimidated by individuals intent on preventing them from returning home. Secondly, the effects that reports of reprisals within Rwanda are having on these people should not be underestimated. What can we do about this situation? No doubt you will be debating problems of this kind today. I have no ready answers to such questions but let me simply contribute a few elements to the debate.
The first element concerns confidence-building. The refugees are obviously uncertain as to what awaits them on their return. We look to the government of Rwanda to do all in its power to allay the fears of these people and to ensure their security.
Other measures are also likely to be needed, in particular an enhanced presence of United Nations peace-keeping forces. I think it is very important that UNAMIR II be brought up to strength as planned, and without delay. In this connection, I would like to mention the fact that the Netherlands trained and equipped a battalion of blue helmets from Zambia. It also contributed to the mission of human rights field officers working with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Rwanda. These field officers can play a major role in avoiding new violations of human rights and in helping the new government of Rwanda to build a society in which these rights are respected.
Human rights education, aimed at promoting an increased
awareness of these rights, should become part of governmental policy. However,
it should not only provide for a top-down approach. The government can also
avail itself of the services of organisations at grassroots level, such as
non-governmental organisations. This could also help to build confidence.
The massive influx of refugees places a heavy burden on the host countries, particularly Zaire and Tanzania. However, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the refugees will return only if they can be protected against intimidation at home. At the same time, security in and around the camps outside Rwanda is deteriorating and reports of attacks on refugees and humanitarian aid workers are a matter of serious concern. Host countries have a difficult but important task within their own jurisdictions to take the appropriate steps to prevent such attacks.
In addition to this, I would like to mention the importance of political dialogue and reconciliation within Rwanda. Negotiations for a political settlement have been taking place in Arusha, Tanzania. Our chairman here today, Ambassador Ami Mpungwe, played an important mediating role in these talks. Let us hope that the dialogue can be resumed, a broad based dialogue between all parties involved which could provide the first step towards democratic elections.
In this respect, we may be encouraged by the developments that have taken place in South Africa. In ethnic terms, South Africa is one of the most diverse countries of the world. Yet, thanks to farsighted leaders, it has been possible to work out a formula for sharing power which involves all the major players. All African nations have their Mandelas.
A central theme of today's Conference is reconstruction and, in broader terms, the rehabilitation of the physical, economic and social infrastructure of Rwanda. The conflict has had a devastating impact on almost every aspect of life in the country.
Until now, international assistance has focused on the refugee problem and evidently effort in this regard is still necessary. Since the beginning of 1994, 55 million guilders have been committed by the Dutch government for humanitarian relief assistance. In an effort to facilitate the humanitarian aid operation in Goma, the Netherlands deployed over 100 troops with a strictly humanitarian mandate. This operation was known as operation "Provide Care". However, I believe increased attention now has to be devoted to the task of economic and social reconstruction in Rwanda itself The European Union, which includes my own country, certainly intends to make its contribution to the reconstruction effort.
Before I conclude, a brief remark about neighbouring Burundi. Burundi is a smouldering volcano. The world may have been surprised by the sudden events in Rwanda, but with regard to Burundi, the warning signals have been flashing for some time now. In politics, as in health-care, prevention is better than cure. Prevention is also far less costly, first and foremost in human lives but also in economic terms. Bearing this in mind, the international community will have to assist in maintaining stability in Burundi. The Organisation of African Unity has already deployed an observer mission there, partly financed by the Dutch government. The Netherlands has also contributed to the technical assistance programme of the United Nations Centre for Human Rights.
Ladies and Gentlemen, before I leave, I would like to stress that, in the age of television, Africa is no longer far away for people in Europe. Together individual citizens of my country have donated 72 million guilders for Rwanda. I am not talking about official government aid, but about individual donations. I just want to illustrate that these donations are themselves a signal or clear sign of the deep sense of solidarity felt by the Dutch population.
The fact that this Conference is held under the joint auspices of the Organisation of African Unity and the Council of Europe illustrates the solidarity between our two continents. I am grateful to the Council of Europe and its Secretary General, Mr Daniel Tarschys, and to the Dutch National Committee for Development Education for organising such an event. I trust the discussions today and tomorrow will prove fruitful, and I wish everyone a pleasant stay here in The Hague.
"...we may be encouraged by the developments that have taken place in South Africa. In ethnic terms, South Africa is one of the most diverse countries of the world. Yet. thanks to far-sighted leaders, it has been possible to work out a formula for sharing power, which involves all the major players. All African nations have their Mandelas."
MR DANIEL TARSCHYS
Secrerary General of the Council of Europe
First of all, I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and to Minister van Mierlo for having put these premises at the disposal of the Conference. I would also like to convey my appreciation to the Dutch and Swiss governments for their financial support, which has allowed us to bring together such an impressive number of African and European partners with a view to joining forces and pooling together their respective knowledge and experience united by the common commitment to the respect of human rights.
My thanks go also to the Dutch National Committee for Development Education, a long-standing partner of the Council of Europe's North-South Centre. As a co-organiser of this Conference it took the initiative to convoke this Euro-African gathering as a matter of urgency and, therefore, at very short notice.
The preparations for such an important Conference, coinciding as they did with the holiday season, certainly posed a number of political and technical inconveniences. However, the tragic events in Rwanda, with still hundreds of thousands of heavily suffering refugees and displaced persons, called for urgent and immediate action. They also called for practical concepts and for possible long-term strategies for reconciliation and reconstruction, including the development of a society based on the respect of human rights and the cultural identity of all its members.
To put an end to political assassinations, to torture and arbitrary detention, governments must commit themselves to legal and democratic reforms, introducing the principles of the rule of law and guaranteeing the fundamental rights of all citizens. They must also promote the development of democratic participation, based on mutual confidence, respect and understanding.
Why should the Council of Europe take an active part in this matter?
After the horrors of World War 11 and over the last 45 years, the Organisation has tried to achieve reconciliation and reconstruction through the development of democratic institutions, the respect of human rights and the guiding principle of the rule of law. It has further achieved ever-increasing unity amongst Member States and their peoples through co-operation structures across the borders of neighbouring countries, at regional and European levels, thereby giving the "European dimension" clear priority over nation bound particular interests and steadily diminishing the importance of national borders, which in the past had often been the origin of conflict, military action and, subsequently, human suffering. Since the events of 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe, the Council of Europe has been steadily enlarging its mission on the whole European territory.
However, Europe is not living in comfort and splendid isolation. Democratic stability and respect for human rights are values and principles which should be applied on a global scale. Despite its primarily regional mission, the Council of Europe showed its commitment to raising the awareness of European citizens of their global citizenship and responsibility in an interdependent world through its 1988 European Public Campaign on North-South Interdependence and Solidarity.
It is further quite significant, and indeed symbolic, that in November 1989, when the upheavals and peaceful revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe were at their peak, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe also took a decision approving the establishment of the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity in Lisbon - the "North-South Centre". Its main tasks are raising public awareness and educating and training young people, as well as, with partners in the South, strongly advocating the cause of pluralist democracy and respect for human rights as fundamental bases for sustainable development.
As a concrete follow-up to the initiative of the North South Campaign, an Africa-Europe Encounter was organised in 1989 in Porto Novo, Benin, under the circumstances of dictatorship and growing opposition to the denial of human rights. This meeting also constituted the first initiative under the joint auspices of the Council of Europe and the Organisation of African Unity.
The Encounter was a strong expression of solidarity by the international community which facilitated the immediate release of a considerable number of political prisoners and gave new hope and new ground to the democracy movement which soon after achieved the creation of a new and more democratic Benin. I would like to take this opportunity to greet here today Professor Albert Tevoedjre, Member of Parliament from Benin, who played a central role in this process.
What were the messages of the Benin Conference? To put an end to dictatorships which hold their peoples hostage; to call on the State to serve its citizens and not to be served by them; to stress the need to help the emergence of non-governmental organisations as bodies truly representative of the people; and to highlight the protection of human rights as the State's primordial concern. Such were the major concerns expressed at the Africa-Europe Encounter and set down in the Porto Novo Declaration for a Contract of Solidarity.
Benin was an example, but throughout the world, people are mobilising to regain their freedom and restore respect for human rights.
Human rights in our age can no longer be seen only as an internal matter of State. In this respect, no State can complain of illegitimate interference when there is a general concern for society. On the contrary, since human rights are everybody's business, everybody has a genuine duty to defend them. There cannot, and must not, be restrictions or exclusions where humanity is concerned.
As the experience gained with the Council of Europe's European Convention on Human Rights shows, joint commitment to promoting and deepening respect for human rights may effectively help to bring countries closer together, not only through the supervisory bodies and their binding decisions, but also through ensuing changes in national legal systems initiated by legislators, governments, administrations and national judicial bodies.
In Africa, maximum advantage must be taken of the effective implementation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. This should be brought, by all appropriate means, to the attention of the beneficiaries. The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, represented here by its distinguished Chairman, Mr Isaac Ngu, and two of its members, must play its role fully, giving priority to supervisory procedures. I am happy to note that gradual progress is being made towards the establishment of a genuine judicial supervisory body, an African Court of Human and Peoples' Rights.
Everyone, both Europeans and Africans, must take a new look at
human rights. The presence of the South in European countries, through migrants
and refugees, should make Europeans aware of the need for solidarity in
respecting these rights. We must all do everything in our power to put a stop to
inroads on human dignity and security. When human rights are the issue, no
conspiracy of silence can be tolerated. Contacts between the bodies responsible
for promoting and supervising human rights therefore must be multiplied, and the
African States must be welcomed into joint initiatives for mutual democratic
aid. The Strasbourg Conference on Parliamentary Democracy, initiated fifteen
years ago by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, is such a framework
for contacts and co-operation.
Earlier this year, the human rights programme of the North-South Centre reached a new stage of development through the creation of the Lisbon Forum on Human Rights in the North-South Dialogue. The participants in the first session of this Forum, equally divided between North and South and between women and men, reflected on a joint approach to human rights violations and put forward ideas for a common strategy for action in response to such situations.
The participants proposed the setting up of an Action Forum which would operate as an early-warning system on situations involving violations of human rights. The members of the Forum were called upon to target the early warning and then to raise awareness on the issue via the North-South Centre. It would endeavour to win support and co-operation of the media in order to dispel the neglected image of human rights.
It was decided that the Forum would meet once a year but that, in the event of an emergency, the members of the Forum could recommend to the North-South Centre the convening of an extraordinary meeting to discuss what urgent action to take. This is exactly what happened in the dramatic case of Rwanda which, in the view of the Lisbon Forum, deserved urgent attention beyond aspects of emergency assistance and temporary media headlines. The Rwanda crisis warranted a special initiative, initially conceived and requested by several members of the Lisbon Forum most familiar with the developments in Rwanda and the surrounding region. The practical result is this Conference.
What happened in Rwanda is not only of concern to governments, it is also a matter for civil society, and youth has a particular role in this aspect. The partnership that we see here must be made efficient. The Council of Europe makes a special point of the development of civil society. It has welcomed in the structure of the North-South Centre a quadripartite way of working, bringing together, if possible from the North and the South, governments, parliamentarians, NGOs and local and regional authorities to reflect and act together. This is one of the unique elements of this Conference which is not inter-governmental but crosses the borderlines between different complementary forces in society whose joint commitment may achieve more constructive results than a traditional intergovernmental forum or an exclusive NGO gathering.
What makes this Conference a unique event is the evident partnership at its base. This is the third event organised under the auspices of the Secretaries General of the two broadest continental organisations of Europe and Africa: the Council of Europe and the Organisation of African Unity. It brings together a wide range of participants from both continents representing a rich variety of backgrounds and constituencies. Its aim is to examine together, and certainly not in a paternalistic manner, how to achieve progress towards a new Rwanda. It also aims to draw up perspectives for people in need and, hopefully, to envisage a future based on the democratic participation of all communities of the country and on the solid protection of human rights.
The terrible events in Rwanda cannot be followed yet again - after several precedents in the history of this troubled country - by lawlessness and impunity. It will be extremely difficult to escape a new traumatic chain reaction of revenge and violence if a legal vacuum persists. And drawing upon our own experience, we also must not forget that democracy across the European continent is only a recent achievement after long and painstaking developments in the history of our continent. Even today, Europe remains under the scourge of violence on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, as well as on parts of the territory of the former Soviet Union.
Besides attention for legal principles, the issue of cultural identity should also be taken seriously in efforts to achieve national reconciliation and reconstruction in Rwanda. In Europe, the question of respect for minorities and peaceful co-existence of peoples has once again become a matter of urgent attention. This is also true of the resurgence of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance. The Council of Europe has a special responsibility in the European context to find solutions to both problems. Our experiences may be helpful for the discussions at this Conference.
A question which also appears on the agenda of this meeting is the issue of prevention of war and human rights violations. Reconciliation and building social cohesion are important conditions for the development of a peaceful society in which justice plays a central role. Everything possible should be undertaken to avoid the further spilling over of human rights violations and violence across the borders of the region surrounding Rwanda. Therefore our attention should not only be focused on Rwanda, but also on Burundi, on Zaire, on Tanzania and other countries in the region.
The issue of perception, media coverage and the creation of images, is also of the greatest importance. We all know about the disastrous role played by Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines in Rwanda in promoting hatred and in encouraging genocide. I welcome the attendance at this Conference of a number of representatives of the media profession. Explaining and reporting situations which may seem geographically distant to most Europeans serves to achieve a better public understanding of those specific situations. It also serves as a reminder of human behaviour, of what humans are capable and to what disasters this may lead. Modern history and rising xenophobia in Europe show that memories of World War 11 have not been enough to perpetuate resistance against genocide, massacres and other systematic violations of human rights.
To end this reflection, I would like to make some suggestions which might be taken Up in the working sessions in the course of this Conference:
* Possibilities to provide African countries, and in particular
Rwanda, with expertise on legal reforms as well as with human rights education
programmes must now be taken up. These programmes should be adapted to the
specific needs and traditions of the African countries. Target groups should be
carefully defined, such as police officers, army personnel, etc. There should be
increased overall exchanges of experience in this field between Europe and
* Certain topics of relevance to Rwanda and the surrounding region could also be studied and developed through European parliamentary action i.e a systematic analysis of terrorism, conditional nature of development co-operation etc.
* It is furthermore important to develop conflict prevention and confidence-building in the region. These efforts should include preventive diplomacy as well as confidence-building activities by non-governmental organisations close to the peoples of the region.
* There is a permanent need for building public awareness of global interdependence and the need for new policies of solidarity. Education for global understanding is already a priority concern of the North-South Centre and its partner in organising this Conference, the Dutch National Committee for Development Education. However, in many European countries there is room for improvement in this respect. The media deserves more support to cover global issues and human rights violations consistently, wherever they occur in the world.
* Special efforts are also required by the international community to facilitate reconciliation and reconstruction in Rwanda. We need a structural and comprehensive approach in which different partners could play useful complementary roles. It is important, in this respect, to ensure co-ordination, fine-tuning and coherence of the different efforts.
We may speak today of a New Europe which is no longer divided by the barriers of the Cold War. Despite all its problems, Africa is also heading for a new future with more attention for human rights protection and the building of democratic institutions, as well as for increased regional co-operation structures.
It would be highly appropriate to consider the future relationship between our two continents from a fresh perspective, leaving behind us the negative aspects of the past. More than one century after the Berlin Conference, - when Europe's main concern about African borders seemed to be avoiding confrontation between European countries involved in Africa - it might be timely to open a new chapter in our relations, based on solidarity and genuine partnership.
"The terrible events in Rwanda cannot be followed yet again - after several precedents in the history of this troubled country - by lawlessness and impunity. It will be extremely difficult to escape a new traumatic chain reaction of revenge and violence if a legal vacuum persists."
PRESIDENT ZINE EL ABIDINE BEN ALI
His Excellency the President of the Republic of Tunisia, President in Office of the Organisation of African Unity, Honorary President of the International Conference
MESSAGE DELIVERED BY
MR HABIB BEN YAHIA
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia
First of all, I would like to extend my most cordial greetings to your august assembly and to express my highest esteem for this important initiative to organise an International Conference on Rwanda. I would also like to express my satisfaction at being appointed its honorary president.
The organisation of this Conference reaffirms the great importance that the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe, the government of the Netherlands and the participating European humanitarian organisations attach to the humanitarian dimension of North-South relations. It also demonstrates a particular consideration for the concerns of the African continent, contributing as it does to the quest for solutions to the tragedy of the fraternal people of Rwanda and the problems of Africa in general. All this reinforces the special nature of the relationship between the African and European continents, whose historical ties unite them.
Although the war has ended, the situation in Rwanda remains a central concern of Africa and the international community. To repeat a point I made in Addis Ababa recently at a conference on refugees in Africa: as long as the Rwandan refugees have not returned to their homes in complete safety and without fear, and as long as a process for a definitive political settlement of the crisis based on national reconciliation has not begun, there can be no talk of peace in Rwanda or indeed in the region, which has already been shaken by similar convulsions such as the events in Burundi in October 1993.
Given the complexity of the Rwandan crisis, which has been exacerbated by intolerance, extremism, exclusion and poverty, the adoption of a global approach that takes humanitarian, security and political dimensions into account is the only way to help restore peace, which cannot be cemented without national reconciliation.
This is the approach advocated by the 30th Summit of the Organisation of African Unity, held in June 1994, which Tunisia had the honour to host. Africa demonstrated at the Summit its determination to take its destiny into its own hands and underlined the vital role that falls on the international community to help achieve political and economic recovery.
This new commitment of the OAU is illustrated: firstly by the management of the Rwandan crisis through the participation of African troops in the forces of UNAMIR II; secondly by steps taken by the organisation to convince the parties to the conflict to comply with the spirit of the Arusha Accords; and thirdly by efforts to generate greater awareness in the international community. Many other initiatives at both national and regional levels also show a growing and sincere desire to bring peace to Africa.
The Organisation of African Unity has spared no effort in restoring peace to Rwanda and Burundi, notably through its Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, which, notwithstanding its recent creation and limited resources, is an instrument that has proved its efficiency.
Our hope is to see the Rwandan people find their way back to peace and security, not with a thirst for vengeance or domination, but in a spirit of fraternity, concord and mutual respect. This is indispensable for any economic and social development effort, given the interdependence of security, development and democracy.
I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my appeal to the entire international community and to Europe in particular, in which the African States invest strong hopes for increased support for the peace process and for development in Rwanda and in Africa in general.
It has also become essential, and it is in the interest of all, to establish a partnership relationship between Africa and Europe in which the latter would play a leading role in rebuilding all that was destroyed by civil war on the human, social, economic and environmental level. This applies both to Rwanda and to all the countries of the region and would respond to the aspirations of African States and peoples and promote the cause of peace in Rwanda and Africa.
Currently holding the Presidency of the OAU, Tunisia restates its determination to work towards giving practical form to these objectives and counts on the backing and support of all those of good will.
"...as long as the Rwandan refugees have not returned to their homes in complete safe" and without fear, and as long as a process for a definitive political settlement of the crisis based on national reconciliation has not begun, there can be no talk of peace in Rwanda or indeed in the region, which has already been shaken by similar convulsions such as the events in Burundi in October 1993."
MR IVO DUBOIS
Representative of the European Commission,
Directorate-General for External Political Relations
Our deliberations here today must serve as a token of remembrance and respect for the victims of the massacre in Rwanda. We cannot close our eyes to the reality that the whole world had to face during the Spring and early Summer of 1994, for rarely in the recent history of humanity have so many been killed in such a short time and in such a small area. It is impossible today to establish exactly how many people were killed, but in view of the numbers involved, it was mass murder. The fact that the entire incident was dictated by the intent to destroy a particular human group makes it all the more serious.
This is the situation, and some day the underlying causes will need to be understood. However, in the meantime, what is important is to live, work and rebuild. Indeed, the question today is how to resume community life, and this Conference is to be seen in that perspective, that is to say as part of the process of finding the political, legal and material means to enable the populations of Rwanda and the region to live in peace.
In the current context, this question is eminently political. Rwanda is at the heart of a problem of regional influences marked by recurrent strife, most of it domestic. Instability in the region is not new, but it has grown considerably in recent years.
To take the example of Uganda, the wars which allowed it to end two authoritarian regimes brought a death toll of nearly 2 million people over a period of 14 years. The Ugandan tragedy did not receive as much attention in the media as the crisis in Rwanda. We should note that the situation in Uganda stabilised in the wake of a political plan for national reconciliation and democratisation, and that brings us to the reasons for this meeting.
In the case of the Rwandan tragedy, we must conclude that the international community has been incapable of dealing with the problem, especially at regional level. To date, it is not certain whether conditions have been met for reaching an agreement on an overall plan, and it is against this background that the message, which I am delivering to you on behalf of the European Commission, should be regarded.
During the visit of the Troika to Rwanda and its neighbouring countries' the Commission proposed various measures including 5 million ECU in emergency relief, a sum approved by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Twelve, which met in Usedom (Germany) on 10 and 11 September, 1994.
At the same time, aid for the entire region will be maintained at 190 million ECU for humanitarian aid and 60 million ECU for food relief, or 250 million ECU in all from the Union, to which the Member States have added another 100 million. The emergency relief covers, in particular, the rehabilitation of the central services of Kigali as well as certain administrative services in the countryside. The Commission's approach is straightforward and relates directly to the situation.
The current situation is that a new civilian government took office on 19 July 1994. It has a broad base and excludes those parties that had called for the massacres, while remaining open to moderates and democrats who wish to help rebuild the country.
Placed under your authority, Mr President of the Republic, this government has a platform with the following goals:
* national reconciliation;
* facilitation of the return of refugees;
* establishment of a State based on the rule of law and the rejection of ethnicity (this is an essential point);
* the calling to account of perpetrators of genocide before an international tribunal;
* the reconstruction of the country% economy.
The good, democratic intentions and the thrust of this programme deserve our support, although we will continue to keep a watchful eye on the legal guarantees available to the population. After all, today the situation in Rwanda is such that the most basic elements of the rule of law and civil administration are sorely lacking, the war having left the country in a state of total destitution.
The emergency relief of 5 million ECU will thus serve as a stop-gap measure to help you continue on course. It will be paid as soon as possible and our staff will do their best to use it to meet immediate needs.
Needless to say, this will not be enough. We are also aware that all policies for Rwanda will have to be reconsidered. This will be the objective of the second stage of the Commission's plan of action, which will consist of a programme to revive the Rwandan economy, set up in conjunction with Rwanda and in keeping with the highest priority needs. This will be completed in just a few weeks time, work having already begun. It will be possible to mobilise 100 million ECU, and normal co-operation in the framework of the Lomonvention will follow. That is one part of our practical diplomatic effort. But it should be pointed out that the Commission does not intend to stop there.
Rwanda cannot be rebuilt unless the perpetrators of the massacres are brought to justice. We all know how human rights were trampled underfoot in this country, and not for the first time. These deadly recurrences must stop. Allow me to make perfectly clear that the regime of impunity, from which the criminals responsible for the past explosions of violence benefitted, merely encouraged new brutality. The country and the region must break this vicious circle, and it must be proclaimed that, henceforth, crime will no longer go unpunished, whether in Rwanda or elsewhere.
In my view, the international tribunal, the purpose of which would be to put an end to the regime of impunity, would also be an essential element in rebuilding confidence. For impunity implies a thirst for personal vengeance. The desire to obtain reparation for an offence is legitimate, but this must be achieved by legal means. The terrible cycle of murder and the settling of accounts will never end unless people feel that the law and the police will protect them. Crime must be punished and the next of kin of the victims must feel that their rights and their sorrows are recognised and respected.
In close co-operation with the Council of Ministers of the European Union, and commensurate with its institutional means, the Commission plans to encourage the creation of this tribunal. The approach of the next session of the General Assembly of the United Nations holds our attention for, on that occasion, decisions must be taken without fail.
The Commission also intends to provide the means: investigators, judges, secretaries. The task may prove difficult, but the Commission is ready to do its fair share. For the time being, and before all else, observers and collaborators will be needed to receive complaints and above all to show the Rwandan people that a system of justice is functioning. The Commission will consider closely how the cost of these observers can be defrayed once the United Nations has come to its decisions. Together, we will need to examine how to set up this operation as quickly as possible, but now that the declaration of intent has been made, we must set to work. This is the second aspect of our practical diplomatic effort which is aimed at ensuring respect for human rights.
The question of regional stability remains and is the most difficult part for the Commission because it requires a diplomatic effort in the strictest sense. Our means are limited, and here our Member States are in the firing line. The Commission, closely associated with the drafting of an external policy for the Union, of which it is a partner, can make proposals and work towards consensus. Here are several possible future courses of action.
The countries of the region must join in creating the conditions for stability through consultation and negotiation, because regional instability results, not only from domestic strife, but also, and above all, from relations between populations and their movements across borders. Consequently, the central political question revolves around identifying ways to reduce and stabilise these movements.
To that end, it is important to consider the options open to regional authorities. A number of issues are involved.
Firstly, the populations concerned are caught in a vicious circle of domestic, political violence: people who flee and become refugees later engage in invasions, and that creates more refugees ready to take part in new conflicts. Thus, the populations must be encouraged to return to their country of origin, and to do so, this endeavour must be given an international dimension. A political and legal framework must also be established in the country of origin based on tolerance and political and institutional representation.
Secondly, the political forces of the countries of the region must learn, or re-learn, the mechanisms of mutual respect. The efforts of the Rwandan government aim in that direction and they deserve to be encouraged, which is what the European Union sets out to do.
Finally, the populations of the region must succeed in attaining a level of economic development that alone can guarantee peaceful co-existence, and that is based on a more equitable distribution of wealth. Hence the need for a major assistance campaign to revive the economies and consolidate the civil administration structures. There again, the Commission and the Union have clear plans.
The European Union does not wish to set itself up as an authority, but we who are building this community of Europe every day know that the challenge of construction and peace can be met. During the visit of the Troika, one of the political leaders with whom the delegation of the Union spoke said that his country had learned a lot from Europe about how to build peace and democracy together. That being said, it is not our task to direct the regional stabilisation efforts. Yet we remain ready to help, listen and to address any point that might contribute to finding a solution.
The Commission considers, for one thing, that the OAU should play a vital role in helping Rwanda and Burundi and that a regional approach in keeping with the spirit of Arusha, i.e a balance of power bringing together all forces that respect the rule of law and wish to rebuild the country, would be enormously beneficial.
The Commission has not forgotten what it can do to support the regional economy through the Lomechanisms. Finally, it will consider every possible way of assisting the States bordering on Rwanda in rebuilding the regions which, having taken in refugees, have sustained damage, notably to their forests and environment. But it is Up to the region and its States to find political solutions with the international community's support and assistance. For its part, the Commission intends to stand by your side with encouragement and tangible aid.
"Rwanda cannot be rebuilt unless the perpetrator of the massacres are brought to justice. We all know how human rights were trampled underfoot in this country, and not for the first time. These deadly recurrences must stop. Allow me to make perfectly clear that the regime of impunity, from which the criminals responsible for the past explosions of violence benefitted, merely encouraged new brutality. The country and the region must break this vicious circle, and it must be proclaimed that, henceforth, crime will no longer go unpunished, whether in Rwanda or elsewhere:"
MR HENK ZOMER
Vice-President of the Liaison Committee of Development NGOs to the European Union
In my speech as representative of the European movement of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), I would like to draw your attention, above all, to the role played by these organisations.
A large number of European NGOs have now taken responsibility for providing humanitarian aid to the victims of the Rwandan crisis and have succeeded in arousing the European public to make donations to the aid operations. The Dutch example shows that Rwanda is indeed a matter of public concern. With the assistance of the media, the Dutch NGOs conducted a campaign that raised 75 million guilders. Some of the NGOs providing humanitarian aid both inside and outside Rwanda had no contact with the country before the present crisis, but most of them were its long-time partners.
Many NGOs were involved in a number of activities in Rwanda before the conflict broke out. They worked closely with Rwandan NGOs, which were non-tribal and non-ethnic in nature, and which proved that it was possible to work together without ethnic tensions.
After the invasion by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in 1990 and the beginning of democratisation in 1991, some NGOs took part in the mediation process. In this context, I wish to mention the role played by most of the churches, whether local or international, which strove to facilitate contacts and talks between the opposing parties from 1991 until recently and to prevent the conflict from escalating. In this connection, I would like to mention the Mombasa Consultation, which brought together political parties, including the RPF, churches and other voluntary organisations in order to encourage the implementation of the Arusha Accords.
What happened in Rwanda is beyond imagination. It is impossible to comprehend how such an explosion of violence could occur. There are too many difficult questions. Questions for Rwandans, for the international community and for NGOs. This is why the facts must be looked at as objectively as possible and that, of course, is not easy. Many investigations and enquiries are still necessary to understand what happened and what lessons can be drawn from events. There have already been studies, such as the one carried out by "African Rights", but this is only a beginning. At the same time, there is urgent work to be done that cannot wait until the investigations are complete; political and humanitarian measures are urgently needed.
The Liaison Committee hopes that this Conference can contribute to the search for peace, justice, reconciliation and a lasting solution to the conflict and for its victims.
Since the RPF invaded Rwanda in October 1990, the conflict has been presented, whether by the RPF or by the media, as an action pursuing two goals. Firstly, it aimed to allow the exiled Rwandan refugees to return to their country - a solution which was opposed by the Rwandan authorities - and secondly, it aimed to remove the dictators from power so as to establish democracy in Rwanda.
A democratisation process began in July 1991 under the stimulus of domestic initiatives and foreign pressures. This was a process full of hope, but it also generated huge tensions. I will not repeat the facts, as I believe we all know the recent history of Rwanda, even though there may be many interpretations of it.
After the massacres and the genocide following the assassination of the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi on 6 April 1994, the media gave the conflict a tribal or ethnic dimension. This is wrong. Witnesses' accounts, also referred to in the "African Rights" report, lead us to the conclusion that the conflict was not merely an ethnic problem, but one having its roots in political power. The problem was that a limited group of people refused to share power with their fellow-countrymen. The politicians exploited the existence of ethnic groups in order to establish a power base for themselves.
Unfortunately, foreign governments did not act wisely. I assume they intended to promote the democratisation process, but they supported politicians who were seeking only to protect and strengthen their own power, which lacked any kind of legitimacy based on a democratic system.
The conflict was a power struggle, and the tribal aspect is pure invention. As a result, there is hope that a solution can be found and a start made on rebuilding Rwandan society in a spirit of good relations between the different population groups, despite the fact that there have been severe traumas.
In the current circumstances a number of questions must be raised. Firstly, we must look at the humanitarian questions directly related to political matters, which themselves raise issues of justice and reconciliation that will have to be answered. Yet, at the same time, a new start must be made on rehabilitating and developing Rwandan society. I propose to raise just a few of these questions:
Can it be hoped that the present government, which cannot yet claim democratic legitimacy, will give the refugees sufficient guarantees and confidence to allow them to return home? Do we know the real reasons why the population of Rwanda fled the country in such huge numbers? Many people talk about the harmful propaganda of RTLM, MNRD and CDR, while others speak of fear of reprisals. What will happen if the government in power today cannot persuade these people to return home? Whether the innocent majority or the guilty minority, who should be brought to justice? How can the specific issue of the former Rwandan army in Zaire be settled? Is it still possible to go back to the provisions of the Arusha Accords relating to this army's position? We have seen the role played by outside countries of the world in this conflict. What role should they, the United Nations and the NGOs now have in efforts to establish lasting peace in Rwanda? What must they do to prevent a resumption of hostilities and the spread of conflict in the region?
After this brief account of the Rwandan crisis and the questions it raises, it is for those here today to make an uncompromising analysis of this crisis in the light of past events in order to put forward sensible recommendations likely to contribute to the establishment of lasting peace in the country and the entire region, and at the same time to tackle the rehabilitation issue seriously. With regard to the NGOs, I would like to make a few general recommendations:
* General conclusions as to who was guilty of the genocide must be avoided. There are leaders and perpetrators who are responsible, but there are also heroes who showed courage but cannot testify because it is still dangerous to do so. There are also many people who had no choice but to follow the instigators. In such circumstances, it is very difficult to know whom to entrust with responsibilities inside organisations. This may be a reason why the Rwandan NGOs should be given outside help - help in terms of personnel, as many people with higher education were killed. Nevertheless, every effort must be made to co-operate with the former heads of Rwandan NGOs, social organisations, churches, etc., who are regrouping and are actively looking for ways of rebuilding civil society.
* Restoring confidence and healing the scars caused by the genocide will take a long time. The NGOs must therefore show patience in their dealings with Rwandan NGOs and establish the kind of solidarity that is destined to last. After the emergency aid phase, rehabilitation and a restart on development will demand time and money.
* Care must be taken to avoid adopting a "neocolonialist" approach to external aid. Given the circumstances, this risk is of great significance.
* Reconciliation must be a priority, but it is first of all up to the victims to forgive and justice is necessary if there is to be reconciliation. This being said, there must be no question of allowing people to take the law into their own hands. It is absolutely essential to establish a judicial and police system which the people will trust. Providing assistance in this area is a task for the international community, but NGOs can also play a role through training and educational activities. Expatriates belonging to European NGOs can likewise act as independent observers and rapporteurs to ensure that human rights are respected.
* Lastly, NGOs have to perform a political task, namely bringing pressure to bear on the national and international authorities in order to:
- support the UNAMIR force;
- give their backing to the establishment of a judicial and police system with monitors;
- support the rehabilitation process;
- find a solution for a tribunal to bring to trial those who are guilty of genocide.
"The conflict was a power struggle, and the tribal aspect is pure invention. As a result, there is hope that a solution can be found and a start made on rebuilding Rwandan society in a spirit of good relations between the different population groups, despite the fact that there have been severe traumas".
AMBASSADOR LAYASHI YAKER
Under-Secretary General of the United Nations,
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
I wish to welcome his Excellency, Mr Habib Ben Yahia, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, representing President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, the President of the Organisation of African Unity. I also welcome the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and thank the government of the Netherlands for having organised this important and extremely timely conference on Rwanda.
May I express my satisfaction, on behalf of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, that this Conference is taking place, and convey to you the best wishes of UN Secretary General, Dr Boutros-Boutros Ghali, for its success. I am most pleased that this Conference is being held on the subject of "Rwanda in its Regional Context: Human Rights, Reconciliation and Rehabilitation". Its results will doubtless be commensurate with the concerns of the African and international communities at the horror and consequences of a tragedy that has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans.
This International Conference will undoubtedly lead to a better understanding of the interdependence of the problems encountered by Rwanda and the parties involved in restoring civil peace at national, regional and international level. We hope it will thereby facilitate the work of the international community which, in order to prepare for the future and take appropriate action, must correctly interpret the fundamental data of present and past situations in this country and its region. Only such understanding can lead to efficient measures allowing economic, social, political and human rights problems to be solved. An approach of this kind has been recommended and adopted in various UN reports, particularly the one on formulating a master plan for rehabilitation, reconstruction and economic and social development of Rwanda, submitted in February 1994 by the Economic Commission for Africa.
I personally wish to contribute to the Conference by insisting on the need to attach more importance to the regional dimension of the Rwandan tragedy.
Today, following the civil war and massacres triggered off by the assassination of President Habyarimana in April 1994, there is much cause for concern about the economic and social situation in Rwanda, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Agriculture, industry, the administration and services are disaster stricken and disorganised. The country's infrastructure has been partly destroyed, although the damage is less severe than might have been feared. The most serious situation is that of the population: the privations and upheavals it has suffered, the feelings of hate instilled in it and the continuing insecurity to which it is prey, as seen from the deteriorating situation in the refugee camps. The extent of the problem is also apparent from the tragic experience of some 100,000 children who find themselves alone. Many of them are suffering from post-trauma stress. Even if life is gradually resuming its course in Rwanda, there is still much to be done before an acceptable humanitarian situation is restored.
This martyred country cannot be considered outside its regional context. Rwanda, a small landlocked State with an area of 26,300 square kilometres and a population of 7 million in 1991, has many affinities and contacts with its neighbours, whose populations show similar socio-demographic characteristics, include the same ethnic groups and have the same diversity of religions and similar histories.
The countries of the region are confronted with the same social problems, although in Rwanda they are currently more acute. Life expectancy there is low; the mortality rate is high; only a small percentage of children attend school and the human development indicator is one of the most negative in the world. Ethnic issues have a regional dimension. The populations of Rwanda and Burundi include approximately the same proportions of Hutu (the vast majority), Tutsi (a minority) and Twa (present in small numbers). Moreover they practice the same religions (Catholics and Protestants are in the majority, although many people follow traditional religions and there is a Muslim presence).
Ethnic problems in Rwanda thus inevitably have an impact on Burundi. Zaire, where as we know a considerable number of refugees are present - above all Hutus - has a Rwandan ethnic group, located primarily in the North, which is one of the most significant in Zaire, representing 10% of the population. Tutsi shopkeepers play a very active role throughout the North and East of the country. It is inevitable, therefore, that the scarcely bearable presence of the refugees and their ethnic origins will exacerbate economic and ethnic problems in Zaire. Uganda also has a Rwandan population group, which is very much a minority.
As we know, over the past 30 years this country gave refuge to banished Rwandans - above all Tutsis - who formed the core of the Rwandan Patriotic Front and are currently returning to Rwanda.
Due to its implications, the Rwandan catastrophe is a major historical event with a regional dimension. Here is further proof that the same factors have had an impact throughout the region over the years. For instance, in modern times, the region has experienced a number of similar historical events, which shed light on the responsibility of external agents for the present situation.
First there was slavery, then from 1880-90, colonisation, which turned the ethnic rivalries to advantage and imposed arbitrary administrative boundaries, and lastly there were the policies pursued in the period of independence from the beginning of the sixties. Before and after independence the entire region was a stage for violence, slaughter of ethnic groups and civil war: Rwanda in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 90s; Burundi in the 70s and 90s; Uganda in the 70s and 80s. For many years a single-party regime was the rule, although there was sometimes a multi-party system.
I should also point out the impact of the economic crises of the 70s and 80s and the considerable increase in the burden of the African countries' external debt. In this context, the consequences of the sudden downturn in the mid 80s of prices of commodities exported by Rwanda (coffee, tea, cassiterite, wolframite, columbite/tantalite) should not be underestimated as these price cuts significantly worsened the Rwandan social, ethnic and political crises. In this country with a 3.1% population growth and the highest population density in central Africa (271 inhabitants per km²), the decline in the prices of these commodities was a catastrophe since coffee accounted for 67% of its exports, tea for 21% and ore for 6%. It is true that the economic problems posed by food security had already been exacerbated by poor use of land, the inefficiency of the services responsible for education in farming techniques, improper storage of agricultural products and the fact that, at 92%, the percentage of the rural population was too high and 43% of these country-dwellers did not own any land.
For a long time it has been apparent from the links between geography and history that Rwanda's economic development would be favoured by regional co-operation, in particular through rational, coordinated use of regional resources and the establishment of a sufficiently large regional market. Rwanda is a member of several organisations aiming at sub-regional integration: the ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States), the PTA (Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern African States), the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries including Burundi, Rwanda and Zaire, the KBO (Organisation for the Management and Development of the Kagera River Basin including Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda). Unfortunately, despite all the programmes set up, this co-operation has brought few results and the organisations established are either moribund or in poor shape due to a lack of willpower or resources, owing, in particular, to distrust between States or between the ethnic groups within them.
This brings us to the regional dimension of human rights. A brief look back shows that the same infringements of human rights occurred throughout the region: slavery, colonisation, persecution of ethnic groups and the practices and deviations of one-party rule. Almost at the same time, the countries in the region became independent, which was a huge victory for human rights. The region has recently begun a democratisation process in an attempt to derive advantage from the potentially positive consequences of such a process, which are, however, always precarious since poor understanding of democracy stirs up ethnic, religious and social conflicts at a time when it is necessary to face the population's unrealistic expectations, given the unfavourable economic and social context. Therefore, both the setbacks and the advances of democracy have paradoxically gone hand-in-hand with reduced respect for human rights.
The human rights we are speaking of are the indivisible, universal, economic, social and cultural rights as set out in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the resolutions of the World Conference on Human Rights of June 1993 and the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development.
Respect for human rights, in particular the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, indeed requires good governance, democracy, citizen's participation an independent judiciary, the rule of law and, of course, civil peace and the establishment of a State governed by principles of law and order.
The events in Rwanda and developments in many African countries show that the fight for democracy is a long way from being won and that the human rights situation there can regress if the necessary resources are not mustered. For the poorest people, today's world is unfortunately not yet one of democracy but one of social injustice, growing poverty and increasing violations of human rights, which are often worse than in traditional societies. In this respect, it is time to sound the alarm. Measures must be taken so that the human rights situation in the region can be properly monitored, as it is in any other part of the world, bearing in mind the important equation linking human rights, democracy, peace and development.
It is through economic development and observance of the right to development of countries and individuals that the conditions essential for the enjoyment of fundamental rights of groups and individuals can be established. The right to a more equitable regional and global economic order is an ingredient of the right to development and of human rights. This is why the international community would do well to give greater consideration here to the fairness of the world economic order for Rwanda, its neighbours and the countries of Africa. The countries in this region must, for their part, respect their citizens' individual rights: the right to share in, contribute to and benefit from the results of social, cultural and political development; and the right to policies that promote development, in particular with regard to the right for women to take an active role in the development process and in national activities as a whole.
The Arusha Accords of 4 August 1993 were an agreement aimed at reconciliation. Why, when this agreement still constitutes a sound basis for solving the problems of Rwanda, could it not then prevent the situation from worsening in all areas? This is a key question. Were enough means harnessed to promote reconciliation? Any further reconciliation effort between the different components of the Rwandan population must take into account these questions. We consider that a sound reconciliation process must have clear, realistic objectives and sufficient material and human resources.
Reconciliation must lead to greater respect for human rights and an improvement in living conditions for each citizen ethnic group or minority. It must acknowledge, through a democratic process and the implementation of an appropriate decentralisation programme, the particularities and collective rights of the ethnic groups and communities concerned. Reconciliation must also further the process of learning from the past and building a better future.
Past events must not be denied, mistakes and crimes forgotten or the genocide forgiven, in order to avoid falling back into the same erroneous ways. This is why the presentation in four months' time by a group of experts, of the first report on violations of human rights in Rwanda is of prime importance. Reconciliation must reject the idea of shared responsibility. An international tribunal, such as the one decided on by the United Nations, can be of assistance in taking the appropriate judicial measures. Reconciliation must be a process of education of individual citizens and of strengthening of mutual understanding and national solidarity in Rwanda.
To achieve a sound foundation and reduce bitterness and hatred, reconciliation must, if possible, be based on even the most partial compensation for the most serious losses, on provision of care for the most destitute victims and, above all, on rehabilitating the national economy, a major priority objective.
There can be no doubt that in view of the extent of the traumas suffered in Rwanda, reconciliation cannot succeed without the support of the international community and neighbouring countries. The international community must mobilise the material resources needed to this end and build on international experience in this area. I suggest that this Conference should attach great importance to this question and, above all, provide a satisfactory answer. The neighbouring countries must be fully involved in this process without interfering with it. Given the ethnic similarities and solidarities that go beyond national boundaries, the destabilisation that threatens all the countries in the region, and the complementary aspects of the region's economies, regional solidarity is in the interest of all the countries and can be a powerful stimulus for the necessary reconciliation process.
Taking in the refugees, itself a commendable act of solidarity, is already a means of protecting the lives of the population and preparing for future reconciliation. However, it is necessary to go further by playing on existing solidarities and assisting the reconciliation process through effective promotion of regional co-operation with suitable resources, beyond those currently available.
Lastly, I come to rehabilitation and its regional context, a very important topic in the opinion of the Economic Commission for Africa. To help the Rwandans emerge from this situation, the international community has taken certain steps that some consider inadequate, as I have just pointed out.
For instance, at the end of August 1994, a 20-milliondollar loan was extended by the World Bank, and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General presented a contingency and normalisation plan that aims to satisfy immediate requirements (a loan to allow re-opening of the airport, transportation of refugees, restoration of the electricity network and telecommunications, mine clearing) or requirements for the coming months.
This is immediate, emergency aid: agricultural supplies such as seeds and tools; training the civil police force and civil servants; opening or re-opening schools; restoring municipal services; repairing and infrastructure and the transport system.
However, all these efforts must also have an increasingly regional dimension, and not only because of the presence of the refugees in the neighbouring countries. This is why we are calling for the implementation of a genuine regional plan, and the UN Economic Commission, by mobilising the entire UN system and the other partners, is naturally well-placed to make a fundamental contribution to the preparation of this plan.
Such an approach conforms with the United Nations' method of dealing with humanitarian operations and to promoting human well-being, i.e emergency aid answers immediate needs while rehabilitation addresses the medium and long-term aspects of emergency situations and aims to restore institutions and infrastructures to prepare for lasting development and to guard against the factors that led to the emergency.
It was in this perspective that the ECA proposed, in February 1994, just a few months ago and well before this catastrophe, the outline of a master plan for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and economic and social development of Rwanda. This plan, prepared in close co-operation with Rwandan institutions, is now available.
Its short- and medium-term objectives were to implement emergency rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes and to carry out a programme of action based on appropriate sector-oriented policies. Its long-term objectives, which remain valid, were self-sufficiency of food supply, combatting poverty, improving the population's standard of living and attempting to achieve full employment.
This plan concentrated on the following sectors: agriculture, livestock farming, fishing and the environment; national and regional development and infrastructure, transport and communications; aid for refugees, displaced persons and former servicemen; public health; education and occupational training; and regional co-operation.
Agricultural rehabilitation is an absolute priority in this country where 92% of the population lived from farming, an activity that generated 40% of the country's Gross Domestic Product. The war caused a sharp decline in output of food crops, fish and livestock. Before the war, agriculture was already considered to be undergoing a serious crisis on account of excessive parcelling out of land - due to over-population - and the inheritance of individual shares of legacies (82% of small-holdings are less than one hectare in area and 26% less than half a hectare), cultivation of poorer-quality land and over exploitation of vegetation. Mass movements of displaced persons since April 1994 have intensified damage to the environment.
Before the war, Rwanda also had a problem of national and regional development and rational implantation of infrastructures. The huge dispersion of the population and inadequate urbanisation considerably hampered national and regional development efforts in Rwanda. The destruction wreaked by the war and the present disorganisation of the economy make this a more complex issue, but are perhaps an opportunity to reduce population dispersion and rationalise infrastructures. The short-term objective is of course to repair and rebuild infrastructures, especially to guarantee the production of electricity and restart the transport system.
In 1993, the cost of merely aiding refugees, displaced persons and former servicemen was estimated at 20 billion Rwandan francs. This was the amount needed to cover the needs of 350,000 displaced persons and refugees and reintegrate 31,000 servicemen to be demobilised in accordance with the Arusha Accords (which provided for a future army of 19,000, 60% of whom would be government troops and 40% RPF). Today the problem has taken on quite a different dimension.
For the rehabilitation and development of Rwanda, there are many ideas and projects for regional cooperation within the organisations I mentioned earlier. Firstly, these plans must be reviewed and, secondly, the efficiency of the regional organisations must be substantially improved. Projects exist in the following sectors: food security (research into agricultural output, action to combat the tsetse fly - a major scourge in the region); energy (shared hydroelectric installations, production of methane gas on Lake Kivu); industry and trade (formation of regional joint ventures); transport and telecommunications (establishing corridors to Tanzania and Kenya, organising lake transport, setting up a regional telecommunications network); and financial co-operation (creation of a bank of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries). These regional co-operation efforts can also constitute a valuable, sound foundation for the involvement of the countries of the region in the Rwandan national reconciliation process and, above all, in the generation of the material conditions for successful rehabilitation of the Rwandan economy.
Therefore, as the title of this Conference indicates, Rwanda's problems must be viewed in a national and a regional context alike. This is why we must congratulate ourselves on the presence here today of leading figures from the countries of the region and the regional organisations, including, of course, the Organisation of African Unity and the Economic Commission for Africa. On these different levels, questions of democracy and human rights, civil peace and reconciliation, rehabilitation and development are closely interrelated. l am aware that the introduction I wished to provide has proved rather long, but it was indispensable in order to present the issues at stake with some measure of objectivity so that the subsequent discussions could be based on a serious, objective appraisal of the situation that prevails in Rwanda and the region. The outcome of this Conference will, I am sure, allow progress towards an enhanced awareness of the nature of the problems arising in Rwanda and the implementation of effective measures in favour of Rwanda and its people.
In terms of the regional dimension, I cannot fail to mention an initiative to which the Commission has contributed. This is a project we are currently discussing with UNDP, whose Administrator came to Addis Ababa a few days ago at the same time as the Administrator of USAID, who was visiting the countries of the region. The objective is to develop a global plan for eleven countries in the region, known as the plan for the "Extended Horn of Africa". The purpose is, finally, to implement a regional development plan by strengthening the IGADD, an organisation of the Horn of Africa countries based in Djibouti, which the Economic Commission for Africa has helped to revitalise substantially.
This plan I think is quite relevant as far as this Conference is concerned, since we are discussing regional co-operation. l would like to insist here that the failure to act during recent decades is one of the major reasons for this insecurity crisis developing all over Africa today. Africa has a 3. 1% population increase, thus 622 million inhabitants are going to become 1,200 million in 22-23 years. Per capita incomes have been going down since the early 80s. During the first four years of the 90s, the economic growth rate rose by 1.5% against a 3. 1% population increase. Meanwhile ODA went down by 30% between 1991 and 1993.
We need, Mr Secretary General of the Council of Europe, as you said, a new contract, a new partnership between Africa and its partners. And of course the European Union and the countries of the Council of Europe are the main partners for Africa for reasons well known. Therefore, I hope that our efforts here will allow us to deal with this issue. I also hope that they will serve to urge the international community not to remain inactive just because the day before yesterday we had Somalia, yesterday we had Burundi and today we have Rwanda - not to mention the crises in Angola, Zaire and in so many countries in all parts of Africa.
I believe that to establish the real conditions for global security and to prevent Africa from being an assisted region forever, counting on other countries' taxpayers, we need development. Please let us establish this partnership and let us make better use of the continent's institutions. We have set up a joint secretariat between the OAU, ECA and the African Development Bank for this purpose, to handle co-operation among our 53 member States, including South Africa, which now represents quite an important asset.
I suggest that the OAU, the ECA and the African Development Bank would be the right partners to assess the situation for us, in the interest of our partners and of course our peoples in Africa and their leaders. The need to engage in real development and to put Africa in a position to enter the global economy in a few years from now are just two reasons why, at the ECA, we are promoting the concept of Africa in transition, just as you are for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
If we look at the chaos around us, we can see that this type of co-operation has its limits. So, in other words, there is a need to reassess 30 years of cooperation with Africa and to put the right emphasis on human development, education, social needs and job creation through training and establishing a strong scientific and technological base in Africa. Such a base, which would depend on a more radical transfer of science and technology from Europe, America and Asia to Africa would allow Africans to produce their own food.
This region is the richest in the world with land, water, mineral resources and energy of all kinds, yet it is the region with the poorest people who are becoming even poorer. Now when is the international community going to deal with the reality? Because this is where the human rights and government accountability we are talking about come into the picture. All of civil society must be involved and unless development proceeds along these lines, we will see one crisis developing after the other. Let us make this occasion, Mr Chairman, the real occasion to reverse this trend in the interest of Africa, in the interest of our partners. Common interests.
At present, the main problems in this region are underemployment and unemployment. I suggest that, if we engage in a real partnership development of Africa, the currently unemployed could be seen as a resource for work to be done in what I call the "Chantier Afrique", for exploiting our resources is the best prevention. The next step to the Secretary General's Agenda for Peace should therefore be an Agenda for Development.
I think that this is the right time and the right place in this country the Netherlands, that has done so much for co-operation, for us to suggest this new partnership dealing with emergencies, reconstruction and development along the lines of the project we are developing with UNDP and USAID. I hope that other partners will join with us in discussions to find real answers to these fundamental issues. I propose, as you said, Mr Secretary General of the Council of Europe, that we should reassess this partnership between Africa and Europe and that emergencies, rehabilitation, reconstruction and development funded together must form a complementarily of national and regional efforts. I am sure that the European Union will also be an important actor in this respect.
The Arusha Accords of August 1993 were an agreement aimed at reconciliation. Why, when this agreement still constitutes a sound basis for solving the problems of Rwanda, could it not then prevent the situation from worsening in all areas! This is a-key question. Were enough resources omplemented to promote reconciliation? Any further reconciliation effort between the different components of the Rwandan population must take into account these questions. We consider that a sound reconciliation process must have clear, realistic objectives and sufficient material and human resources.
MR MACHIVENYIKA T. MAPURANGA
Assistant Secretary General in charge of Political Affairs, Organisation of African Unity
I wish at the very outset to convey to you, Mr Chairman, and to the participants the most profound apologies of the Secretary General of the OAU, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, for his inability to be with you personally because of equally pressing matters which have kept him occupied at the OAU headquarters. He has, however, requested me to represent him and to wish this Conference fruitful deliberations and every success.
Mr Chairman, as co-sponsor of this Conference on human rights, reconciliation and rehabilitation in Rwanda, the Organisation of African Unity would like to express its appreciation to the Council of Europe, which mooted the idea of holding this event to afford US all the opportunity to discuss and reflect on the recent tragic events which have taken place in Rwanda and to see how best to contribute to the post conflict reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction in that country.
The Conference could not have come at a more opportune moment given the trauma that the conflict in Rwanda has engendered among the Rwandan people and the shock that it has brought Upon Africans and, indeed, the international community at large.
The theme of the Conference is appropriate and timely considering the fact that today there are no less than 1.2 million refugees outside Rwanda, mainly in Zaire, Tanzania and Burundi. In addition to these, we are informed that there are no less than 2 million displaced persons inside the country. These Rwandans need to, and will have to, return to their country some day.
In Rwanda itself there are hundreds of mass graves containing the dead bodies of hundreds of thousands of innocent Rwandans whose only crime was, perhaps, that they did not belong to a particular ethnic group or that they differed politically from the powers that be. In addition to these categories of Rwandans, there are also thousands of others who have been maimed or have lost their loved ones. Currently, fresh wounds continue to stare Rwandans in the face, and they will no doubt take a long time to heal. Similarly, ugly scars of the despicable events that took place in the country will not easily fade away but will continue to serve as painful reminders of the brutality of man's inhumanity to man. It is therefore, Mr Chairman, our duty to help the Rwandan people to heal these physical and psychological wounds.
Rwanda today faces the challenges of peace, security and stability, based on national reconstruction. To allow this to happen and to allow development to happen, the country needs to repatriate the millions of Rwandans still in exile, or displaced internally, to build confidence among Rwandans, and thus pave the way for a collective effort at national unity, reconciliation and a sense of common national purpose. In the camps, there is an absolute need to isolate the hundreds of thousands of genuine refugees from the former army and militia who are working feverishly to prevent the return of refugees. This is, and must be, one of our major goals. But before repatriation is effected, there is a need to continue to cater for their humanitarian needs.
In this regard, we at the OAU believe that the international community has a tremendous responsibility, in the interim, to provide adequate relief assistance to the asylum countries, to cater for the millions of refugees as well as to strengthen their capacities to cope with the enormity of the current refugee crises.
In the medium- and long-term, the government of Rwanda would require every support and assistance in order to create the necessary conditions and an enabling environment in order to receive, resettle and rehabilitate the millions of expected returnees as well as the internally displaced persons in Rwanda.
Mr Chairman, it is our fervent hope at the OAU that the government of Rwanda itself continue to demonstrate, in concrete terms, magnanimity and a commitment to genuine national reconciliation. We are fully aware of the many efforts, plausible efforts, undertaken to date by the present government to ensure as broad a participation of Rwandans as possible in national affairs. The many reconciliation visits undertaken to various parts of the country and to the neighbouring countries by His Excellency the President and other high ranking officials of the new Rwandan government are indeed very commendable.
However, more needs to be done in terms of transparent and adequate guarantees within Rwanda if the refugees are to return home quickly. There must be a massive and visible international presence in Rwanda. It is in this regard that the OAU fully supports the deployment by the United Nations of human rights monitors inside Rwanda. It is also our view that the UNAMIR force should be speedily deployed to its full strength in all parts of the country in order to help build the kind of confidence that would help convince Rwandan exiles to return home. Needless to say, all that I have said does not, in any way, suggest that the perpetrators of massacres and genocide should be allowed to go free. On the contrary, the OAU is of the conviction that all criminals against humanity should face an international tribunal.
At this juncture, let me pay a glowing tribute to the community of non-governmental organisations which, despite the mortal dangers to which they have been exposed, worked tirelessly during those difficult days, and are still doing so, in order to bring succour and hope to the millions of refugees and displaced persons. The OAU, therefore, would wish to urge them not to abandon their noble and humble duty at this time; they should bring this task to its logical conclusion by continually contributing to humanitarian assistance, to reconciliation and durable peace in Rwanda.
Talking of national reconciliation, the Arusha peace agreements may have been overtaken by events, but the spirit of Arusha should continue to inspire the government and the people of Rwanda in their quest for national reconciliation and lasting peace and stability.
Mr Chairman, when I speak about the spirit of Arusha, it is not only because we at the OAU believe that the Arusha Accords would have been the sole viable framework for peace, national unity and reconciliation, but also because the OAU, as coordinator of the Arusha peace process - which was chaired by Tanzania as facilitator of the negotiations had a stake in the success of that process. After the agreement was concluded, the OAU dispatched a military observer group, the Neutral Military Observer Group (NMOG), to supervise the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement. A few months later, in October 1993, Secretary General Dr Salim Ahmed Salim flew to Kigali and formally terminated the mandate of the NMOG, whose elements were then assimilated into the United Nations force called UNAMIR I.
And so, as far as the OAU was concerned, Rwanda, at that point, was one of its success stories. But the death of President Habyarimana in the plane crash, and the subsequent massacres and acts of genocide, have wiped off all the gains of the Arusha peace process. But Rwanda, like all other conflicts in Africa today, has continued to be the concern of the OAU's Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution which was set up in Cairo in June 1993. The central organ of that Mechanism has, since its inception, considered the situation in Rwanda on several occasions at Ambassadorial, Ministerial and even at Head of State level. I wish to take advantage of this opportunity to appeal to the international community, governments and international organisations to give concrete support to this newly established Mechanism, particularly in the domain of finance, material resources and human resources.
Mr Chairman, my remarks would be inconclusive if I did not acknowledge with gratitude the support and assistance that Africa has received, and is continuing to receive, from the international donor community in its efforts to contribute to the early restoration of peace, security and stability in Rwanda. We shall continue to count on this practical demonstration of the principle of international solidarity and cooperation. And I was most delighted to listen this morning to representatives of various international agencies and non-governmental organisations, reassuring us of their continuous interest in the country.
Finally, Mr Chairman, distinguished participants, it is our considered view that we, as brothers and sisters or as friends of Rwanda, can only help. The onus for a peaceful, stable and united Rwanda, however, lies with Rwandans themselves. In this connection, I earnestly urge them to persevere in the path of peace, national reconciliation and unity in thought, word and deed. The Rwandan people. at grassroots level, with a new and enlightened leadership, with the support of the neighbouring countries and the entire international community, can usher in a new era of human rights, reconciliation and rehabilitation in Rwanda. I am instructed to assure them the OAU's Unflinching commitment to assist them in achieving that noble and desirable goal.
"...the Arusha peace agreements may have been overtaken by events, but the spirit of Arusha should continue to inspire the government and the people of Rwanda in their quest for national reconciliation and lasting peace and stability"
PRESIDENT PASTEUR BIZIMUNGU
His Excellency the President of the Republic of Rwanda
In Rwanda, we shall shortly be organising a series of nationwide mass funerals. The corpses of our dead lie strewn about the countryside. We shall do this for reasons of public health, out of respect for the dead and quite simply for human beings who have the right to a decent burial. This promises to be a harrowing experience. In Rwanda we have not yet emerged from our tragedy.
This tragedy, and in short the entire Rwandan problem, is the result of violations of human rights.
For some decades, mainly since the Second World War, the whole world and the international community, has been attempting to build a civilisation founded on respect for fundamental human rights. In the South, we saw this as the outcome and the logical consequence of the struggles against slavery and colonial oppression.
It was also apparent that survival of the human race and peace in general depended on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We would not be here today if we did not believe in, and wish to promote in Rwanda, a society that, this time, follows these principles.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Dutch government, which made it possible for us to organise this Conference and to look into the Rwandan tragedy and its consequences. I thank the Secretary General of the Council of Europe for having endorsed the questions we are raising today and for committing himself personally to the holding of this event. I express my gratitude to the Swiss government, the European Union and the nongovernmental organisations, which provided financial support for this gathering. And finally, I thank all of you, dear friends, who are here today to stand by us in our troubles, to consider the meaning behind our tragedy - the why, the how and the why not - and taking this tragedy as a starting-point, to try and build a new history of hope and freedom.
We have a heavy responsibility. By the end of this Conference we will have to have laid down requirements and formed new relationships that make clear our desire to rid ourselves of the unacceptable.
In the context of efforts to found a civilisation based on respect for basic human rights, Rwanda was placed under the auspices of the international community from about the beginning of the century. First of all, it was a mandated territory, then it existed under the trusteeship system and finally, even after independence, it fell under a regime of supervised freedom. The unfortunate outcome is that, except for the Nazi holocaust of the forties, Rwanda has just experienced the most horrible genocide of this century along with other intolerable crimes against humanity.
Therefore, we have a shared history with the Western world. Before this shared history, my country had never experienced any conflict with ethnic or racial overtones. Problems of an ethnic nature had never flared up. I should point out that, previously and for many years, Rwandans had occupied the same territory, without distinction based on ethnic origins. They had the same culture, spoke the same language and shared the same customs. Serious errors were made at some stage. The genocide in Rwanda is a failure for which everyone is responsible - the Rwandans of course, the United Nations, the international community and, quite simply, the human community.
The first serious error was to deny the individual by placing emphasis on ethnic groups which were defined in terms of highly questionable fixed racial or regional categories that originated during the dark period of segregation. This was the principle underlying the organisation of current-day Rwanda.
Thus, in Rwandan society, the concepts of the citizen, the individual and the human being were set aside in favour of three main categories: the Twas, supposedly close to the primates, the Hutus, who, it is claimed, all think and feel the same way, and the Tutsis, likewise prisoners of their fate, their racial characteristics allegedly influencing their ways of thinking and feeling as well as their tastes and their intellect. People even went so far as to disregard the earlier existence of mixed marriages which welded together these different groups. We were told that the gulf that now separated them could not be bridged.
On denying individual rights, fundamental human rights were also denied. All this favoured the anthropological reasoning of the eighteenth century, with its fixed stereotypes, cliches and theories. And the lesson has been learned well. If someone commits an offence, for instance, that person is not prosecuted as an individual, as a responsible person with rights and duties, but instead the whole group must pay. Thus, in 1959 when the oligarchy consisting of fifty individuals had to be brought to an end, instead of adopting reforms to terminate the situation, it was decided that the problem should be solved through an ethnic approach, and the ethnic group was exterminated.
Opportunist politicians of course bear the responsibility for these absurdities. There was always someone to turn such confusion to account. In these circumstances, purely political problems become, or rather are presented as, primarily racial, ethnic or tribal issues. Some people are therefore raising the question of whether our conflict was an ethnic or a political one, even through at the same time everyone is aware that those in power trained the militia and incited people in the countryside to kill and that the clash did not occur spontaneously.
Despite all this, the world is asking whether the Rwandan conflict was political or ethnic. The reason is precisely that the world is used to considering US in terms of its stereotypes, its pre-determined images. I think that this is one of the misunderstandings between us and the West and even between us and the rest of Africa, which failed to understand that a tragedy had been taking place for a long time, a tragedy that led to the genocide of which you are now aware.
This practice of generalising in terms of ethnic cliches existed before 1959, as I already mentioned, but the turning point came during that year. Suddenly people in the countryside were asked to put their neighbours of different ethnic origin to fire and sword, without any safety net or limits and in complete breach of human rights, allegedly to end the reign of a few dignitaries who had been raised to supreme power precisely on the basis of the same prejudices.
The public authorities were always on the side of these people,
these killers, and always masterminded their action. For this reason, it is
wrong to speak of these outbursts as ethnic or regional conflicts, firstly
because the real causes were never ethnic. The Hutu living in the Rwandan
countryside who took up his machete and who burned his neighbour's house did not
suffer in any way because he had a Tutsi neighbour. He was manipulated to kill
his neighbour and the world remained silent. The international community
remained silent - for thirty years. In 1959 people died, fled the country as
refugees or were exiled within Rwanda. No-one, inside or outside Rwanda, voiced
any protest about what happened to them.
Private property, even that of the internally displaced persons, was distributed to the perpetrators of the attacks. in some respects, ordinary people were thus transformed into legalised criminals with economic rewards, since those who had carried out the attacks received property, cattle, etc.
This is the culture of crime that was legitimised and institutionalised in the minds of the inhabitants of the countryside. An underdog mentality was also inculcated in the victims, who accepted their fate. This phenomenon lasted for a long time, and the political problems that arose of course could not be properly solved through this ethnic outlet. This is why the same scenarios were repeated six or seven times after these events. The world again remained silent and again acted as if it did not understand that there was a serious problem of a violation of human rights, which contravened both the spirit and the letter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The genocide and other crimes recently committed in Rwanda are a direct consequence of these practices. The genocide and the crimes were planned by those in power. The international community was yet again unable to grasp what was happening, despite protests from the opposition, whether armed or democratic. This was because the outside world was still bound by its past vision of our society, a vision which was unfortunately the legacy of the eighteenth century race-oriented philosophy.
Even when the tragedy occurred and the genocide began, the world, in particular the West, reacted clumsily, and I think this was precisely because it did not understand the catastrophe that was taking place. I am convinced that if the world, which had the power to stop the tragedy, had set up safety areas in Kigali, so many people - almost one million of them would never have perished. But the world failed to react because, yet again, its understanding of our problems was distorted.
In April we had to fight simply to end the slaughter. We did not fight to call into question the Arusha Accords, which were a compromise with a view to breaking the vicious circle that had existed in Rwanda for decades. This is why, once we had rendered the killers incapable of doing further harm, we took steps to implement the Accords, which aim to establish the rule of law and to form a broader-based government and a national army open to all. My government acknowledges the universal nature of human rights and the international community% duty to express its concern and take action when those rights are violated anywhere or by anyone in Rwandan territory.
We have made a solemn undertaking to comply with the international instruments intended to safeguard human rights. For instance, we have allowed the International Commission on Human Rights to send observers to all parts of the Rwandan territory. Human rights issues are a major concern for my government and my country. Our aim is to draw inspiration from our past experience and from new demands and challenges, in order to build a State governed by the rule of law.
For this reason, we cannot easily accept that the world should now hesitate between the perpetrators of the genocide and ourselves. Our government demonstrated through the tragedy and bloodshed (because the killers turned against us, those in opposition) its allegiance to the principles that everyone here claims to support, fundamental human rights. Yet the world acts as if it were placing our government on an equal footing with those who, in cold blood, planned the genocide of millions of our citizens. We cannot accept this.
Moreover, we are struck by the inconsistency of the international community, which, for instance, when it sees a movement such as the Rwandan Patriotic Front that attempts to transcend ethnic differences, constantly points out that it is a Tutsi organisation. Everyone here speaks this language. Everyone is urging us to go beyond ethnic segregation, in compliance with international law, and everyone here looks at the groups that have been formed and says "but they are Tutsis" or "they are Hutus", and the Hutus are apparently Hutus who support the RPF.
I think that in this respect, the international community is in contradiction with its declared principles, and its role is once more likely to exacerbate the differences in our society. It is easy to cultivate differences because, after all, here today we are all completely different. Two twin brothers are different. Otherwise it would not be possible to recognise them. Children are different from their parents. Cultivating differences is easy. It is easy to do so in our fragile States, and that is how the international community spends most of its time where we are concerned. The aim is that there should be a democracy of ethnic groups, a democracy of tribes.
I must admit that, earlier on, I did not understand when someone spoke to me of "rights of the minority". Firstly, under international law, everyone has the same rights. Yet some people want the Twas to have other rights. On what basis? If the Hutus, Tutsis and Twas in Rwanda have the same rights, which the State must safeguard, I ask you where do the Twas' rights come from? I have heard here and at other conferences that the right to tolerance must be asserted. This term was used in the South African context when the blacks did not yet have the same rights as the whites and the whites had to show them tolerance. Why, in terms of principles or rights, should someone who has the same rights as me have to show me tolerance? Is it because people have been accustomed to a situation where the majority has rights which the minority does not enjoy, and for reasons of convenience and survival the minority must be tolerated?
Here again these are misunderstandings engendered by the West, which has the power that comes from money and information and which causes confusion in the fragile democracies we are attempting to build. Our reconciliation cannot succeed if we do not teach new values to those who were told that killing was acceptable as long as the person killed was from another ethnic group or an opposition party. For this reason, we have asked the Head of the UN Commission on Human Rights to help us teach our people new values founded on respect for fundamental rights.
Our policy is clear. When an offence is committed, we deal severely with the perpetrator. We want to enforce the law, and we would rather that individual offenders or breaches of the law by certain people were not identified with our government.
I repeat that we, in Rwanda, want the same rights as elsewhere. Here and now in the West, people are breaking the law, and no-one holds the government responsible where that government has a clear policy and enforces the law. Why should things be different in Rwanda?
We have shown that we are committed to the cause of human rights. Up to now, some sixty to seventy people have taken reprisals. What are seventy people compared with the million who were killed? Can the world grasp the extent of the emotional difficulties we are encountering in restraining the victims, those who were yesterday pursued by the killers? Yet the existence of our government seems to be called into question by seventy breaches of the law. We consider this treatment unjustified and a continuation of the outside world's mistaken perception of our problems.
The problem of the recent refugees is a matter of concern for us. However, the world also knows that we have given guarantees, in the first place legal guarantees, that the law will be enforced. We have implemented the Arusha Accords, disregarding those who organised the atrocities and were excluded at our own initiative from any participation in power. We have provided international guarantees since we have agreed to the presence in our territory of UNAMIR, of one thousand American soldiers and Canadian and British contingents. What more does the world want? Does it not consider that we have in this way shown our good faith and openness?
We have involved the institutions of the United Nations in the operations to bring home the refugees. We have asked the Office of the UN High Commissioner to help us to convince the refugees, who fear those who recently took the lives of one million Rwandans, to return. We are enforcing law and order with the exception of isolated individual cases for which the government is neither responsible or culpable. There is no crime we have left unpunished.
The international community observes what is happening in the camps and says nothing. What is happening? The philosophy and practices that led to the genocide are openly followed. Yet the international community expects peace to reign in the region. It is aware that in neighbouring Burundi there are extremist parties that swear the solution to their country's social and political problems is to cut off heads, as was done in Rwanda.
The international community observes this situation and remains silent, while nevertheless expecting peace to reign in Burundi. How could this be possible? How does the international community intend to set us on the road to reconciliation while at the same time tolerating that the philosophy which led to the genocide and the other crimes against humanity be preached publicly in the camps in Zaire and Tanzania?
This is another problem, which is no longer our responsibility since it is taking place in foreign territory in breach of international principles and law. The responsibility lies with the international community. Our responsibility is that we never denied these refugees the right to return home or refused to allow the former members of the government army back on the streets, and our responsibility as a State goes no further.
After this tragedy we are faced with serious problems in launching a reconciliation process. We believe that reconciliation is possible since, as I said earlier, the Rwandans killed each other because they were manipulated, not because there are three ethnic groups in Rwanda. In countries with three hundred ethnic groups there have not yet been three genocides. The problem is not the fact that there are differences.
We cannot achieve our reconciliation if we institutionalise the principle of impunity. This did not help us in the past, since impunity was then the rule in our society. It was under the cover of impunity that it proved very easy for the present tragedy to take place.
We cannot achieve reconciliation if we are unable to organise a system of justice, because the victims will never feel safe if they live in a society where what has happened today could happen again tomorrow. We have shown the international community that some innocent people, who are victims of the untruthful propaganda disseminated by those who organised the genocide, are afraid and would be reassured if they knew that the international community was working with us and prepared to establish an open system of justice.
We want an international tribunal, not because we have relinquished our sovereignty - it is my government's duty to organise a system of justice but we want international participation for reasons of openness and neutrality, to free us from the emotional state in which the entire country was plunged by the Rwandan tragedy. To overcome this emotion and no longer be prey to it, we are appealing to the international community. An international tribunal would be a reassurance for everyone, for the victims and all the people displaced outside our frontiers.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we share the same values, in particular with regard to fundamental human rights. Why then, when we seek to find solutions to our problems, do the Westerners and even other Africans propose different approaches? Why does the West tell us that in our countries we need tailor-made rights? Why are we told that the democratic majority must be identified with the ethnic majority? At the same time as they preach that all men are born free and equal. Why are the approaches different when we believe in the same principles?
We think that there are many misunderstandings, which resulted in our isolation during our tragedy. We think that the West continues to perceive our situation in terms of the ideas that prevailed in Berlin in 1885. We think it is time for a change of attitude and time to organise another Berlin where we would see that, since we believe in the same principles, we can approach solutions in the same way - solutions in respect of human rights, and also solutions to our economic problems. The economic factor was of fundamental importance in the Rwandan tragedy. Those who stage-managed the catastrophe manipulated the young people, who had nothing and who saw their future in the promises that they would benefit from the crime. The organisers had no difficulty in stirring people in the countryside into action because in some parts of the country they promised that those who killed their neighbours would inherit the neighbours' land and belongings. Economic motives were a significant element in our tragedy, and that is why we must not lose sight of this factor in the solutions we attempt to find.
Today we are together - Europe and Africa - to think over our shared history, which is more one of tears and trouble than joy and hope. It is essential that we reverse the course of history, perhaps with the Rwandan tragedy as a starting-point, to discover how we can show each other solidarity and complement each other in joint projects that give fresh meaning to our lives.
Reconciliation. After centuries of poverty, troubles and doubts, the African of today must first reconcile himself with his own image, that of a person who has been humiliated and degraded. This is an important task for our population. Rehabilitation in Rwanda will primarily be a rehabilitation of individuals, a moral rehabilitation before it can be a material rehabilitation, for which we also seek your help. It is with this appeal, to establish a new relationship, to reconcile individuals with themselves, to rehabilitate the Africans and my country, that I conclude.
"..we have a shared history with the Western world. Before this shared history, my country had never experienced any conflict with ethnic or racial overtones. Problems of an ethnic nature had never eared up. I should point out that, previously and for many years, Rwandans had occupied the same territory, without distinction based on ethnic origins. They had the same culture, spoke the same language and shared the same customs. Serious errors were made at some stage. The genocide in Rwanda is a failure for which everyone is responsible - the Rwandans of course, the United Nations, the international community and. quite simply, the human community.
"The genocide and the crimes were planned by those in power. The international community was yet again unable to grasp what was happening, despite protests from the opposition, whether armed or democratic. This was because the outside world was still bound by its past vision of our society, a vision which was unfortunately the legacy of the eighteenth century race-oriented philosophy:'
MR JOSE AYALA LASSO
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
MESSAGE DELIVERED BY
MR IBRAHIMA FALL
Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights,
Head of the Centre for Human Rights, United Nations Office at Geneva
I would like to congratulate the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe for the timely initiative to convene this International Conference on Rwanda. I am most grateful for the kind invitation but unfortunately my official duties in Geneva did not permit me to attend.
As High Commissioner for Human Rights, I should mention that I took up my duties on 5 April of this year and, on the very next day, the jet carrying both the President of Rwanda and Burundi was shot down and the series of most tragic events ensued. In the weeks that followed, the world witnessed the most serious of human rights violations on a massive scale.
I embarked on a personal mission to Rwanda in mid-May. Upon my return to Geneva, the Commission on Human Rights, meeting in emergency session at the request of Canada and 44 other members, appointed a Special Rapporteur, supported by a team of field officers, to investigate the most recent and massive violations of human rights. Since then, two reports by this Rapporteur have been issued.
On 20 and 21 August 1994, I visited Rwanda again. The main purpose of the visit was to strengthen the human rights officers' presence there in keeping with the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and the Commission of Experts, which the Secretary General established on 29 July following the decision of the Security Council. I also wanted to discuss priority needs in terms of the process of reconstruction of the country, particularly as far as advisory services and technical co-operation programmes in the field of human rights were concerned.
The President of Rwanda stressed to me that respect for human rights was a priority of his government. The President also indicated that the proposals for advisory services and technical co-operation were most welcome. He felt that human rights education programmes were a priority to help overcome the tragedy of Rwanda and the hate still existing between ethnic groups. Respect for human rights was, in his opinion, the key for a peaceful Rwanda. For all these reasons, some 147 human rights officers were envisaged.
With the deployment of this number of staff, which includes the 26 already deployed or on their way to Rwanda, the UN human rights operation in Rwanda would be in a position to respond to the following objectives:
* To carry out investigations into violations of human rights and humanitarian law, essentially for the purposes of the Commission of Experts.
* To monitor the ongoing human rights situation, essentially for the purposes of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, and, through his presence, help redress existing problems and prevent possible human rights violations from occurring.
* To co-operate with other international agencies in re-establishing confidence, thus facilitating the return of refugees and displaced persons and the rebuilding of civil society.
* To implement programmes of technical cooperation in the field of human rights, particularly in the area of the administration of justice.
All the above-mentioned objectives are closely inter-related and thus require an integrated and structured field programme. This requires a solid administrative base structure, clear lines of command and sound methodology and rules of conduct for the field staff.
Mr William Clarance, a former senior staff member of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with extensive field experience as representative of UNHCR in various countries, including zones of armed conflict, was appointed Chief of the Field Operation and assumed his functions in Kigali on 10 September 1994.
The Office in Kigali will have one special unit responsible for conducting investigations, in accordance with the directives given by the Commission of Experts and, should an international tribunal be established, by the prosecutor of the tribunal.
The in-depth investigations envisaged by the Commission will be carried out by a highly specialised group of investigators, including forensic experts, under the direction of an experienced Chief of Investigations, to be appointed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Human rights monitoring and confidence-building activities will be carried out by human rights officers under the supervision of five so-called Zone Coordinators. They will be deployed on the ground in progressive stages to Prefectures and Sub-Prefectures.
The human rights situation in Rwanda will also require the provision of technical assistance to the new government to re-establish the rule of law and build new institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights. Helping to build this new infrastructure will allow the government to break with the legacy of the past and create new mechanisms for institutional and long-term human rights protection. In addition, the technical assistance programme for Rwanda will be designed to help strengthen civil society.
Rwanda will be a test case for the international community in connection with emergency human rights situations and with post-conflict peace-building. Impartial investigations of human rights violations, through the Special Rapporteur, the Commission of Experts and through field monitoring, will no doubt prepare the ground for atonement and reconciliation in the country.
Close co-ordination among UN agencies and programmes for the reconstruction of the country should be based on the solid foundations of respect for human rights, the rights of minorities and efforts for the establishment of democracy and economic and social development in Rwanda.
In order to achieve these important objectives, the co-operation of all international organisations and NGOs will be equally essential.
"Rwanda will be a test case for the international community in connection with emergency human rights situations and with post-conflict peace-building. Impartial investigations of human rights violations, through the Special Rapporteur, the Commission of Experts and through field monitoring will no doubt prepare the ground for atonement and reconciliation in the country.
TO PRESIDENT PASTEUR BIZIMUNGU HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE MESSAGE DELIVERED ON BEHALF OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE BY MR PAUL KAWANGA SSEMOGERERE
Second Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda and Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uganda, the Honourable Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere, was requested to move a vote of thanks on behalf of the participants of the International Conference to His Excellency President Pasteur Bizimungu of Rwanda for his speech. In his statement, he expressed his sincere thanks to the President for his candid and succinct presentation, as well as his clear analysis of the country's problems.
Mr Ssemogerere recalled that, in his presentation, President Bizimungu had informed the Conference that judgements of Rwandan society were, and continued to be, based on erroneous premises. The wrongs committed by individuals had very often been attributed to an entire community.
This perception had led the Rwandan tragedy to be viewed from an inaccurate historical angle, where the wrongs of individuals were attributed and judged according to Hutu/Tutsi ethnic bases. President Bizimungu had dwelt at length on a clear explanation of the basis of political behaviour in Rwandan society and on how this should be perceived if the right solutions to the country's problems were to be found. The President had emphasised that an incorrect perception of the Rwandan problem had been responsible for the Rwandan tragedy.
On the question of solutions, Mr Ssemogerere recollected President Bizimungu's reassurance to the Conference of his government's commitment to the spirit of reconciliation in Rwanda. The basis of the reconciliation had to be on the respect for the human rights of the individual, irrespective of ethnicity or any other prejudices. President Bizimungu had also emphasised that his government would observe and respect human rights and he had seized the opportunity to welcome support from the international community to enable his government to live up to this commitment.
President Bizimungu had thanked the international community for the logistical and technical support received so far, geared to assist him in establishing a system of good governance in his country.
As for the future, the speaker echoed President Bizimungu's warning of the dangers of silence to what was occurring in the refugee camps outside Rwanda and agreed that this constituted a recipe for further turmoil in the region. The President had urged the international community to rise up and speak out against what was happening in these camps.
Finally, Mr Ssemogerere observed that the President's speech had highlighted the essence of the problems in Rwanda. It had, therefore, accorded the participants and the international community with a chance to make a contribution to building a brighter future for Rwanda, Africa and humanity as a whole.