- Conflicts - Human rights
UN succumbs to Rwanda’s Peacekeeping leverage
The Subtleties of diplomacy may have trounced fact as the UN in order to maintain the stability in the Central Africa region, has moved to rephrase claims in its reports on Rwanda’s incursion in the Democratic of Congo in the 1990s.
After threatening to withdraw Rwandan peacekeepers from African Union/United Nation peacekeeping missions in Sudan following a leaked report accusing the eastern African country’s army of atrocities, President Paul Kagame’s government has been condemned for using its contribution of peacekeepers as a shield against scrutiny, and a buffer against criticisms.
The leaked report by the United Nations had accused Rwanda’s army of committing genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but the Rwandan government it would withdraw its peacekeepers from Sudan — a region mostly in need of peacekeepers following a possible referendum for secession of south Sudan from north Sudan — if the report was published.
Rwanda’s leverage was evident as it contributes thousands of soldiers to U.N. peacekeeping operations in Chad, Haiti, Liberia and mainly Sudan.
Rwanda’s threat has led the UN to tone down its original report detailing hundreds of horrific attacks against civilians in Congo, mostly of Hutu ethnicity, over a 10-year period. According to reports by the Associated Press, a draft section that dismissed mitigating arguments was dropped entirely.
And an earlier reference to "damning elements" that could be used by a court to conclude that genocide took place has been changed to "inculpatory elements." There were also countervailing factors that experts say could be used to render the genocide accusations baseless.
The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights rewrote sensitive sections of the 545-page document to couch them in less inflammatory language.
The initial report included interviews with over 1,280 witnesses. Amnesty International had described the report as "a very thorough investigation" and called for pressure by donor countries to make Congo prosecute alleged perpetrators.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human rights Navi Pillay delayed publication for several weeks to give affected governments time to publish their comments alongside the final version.
But despite the diplomatic subtleties utilized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said the document was "flawed and dangerous from start to finish."
Mushikiwabo said the $3 million report, which details more than 600 incidents between 1993 and 2003 in which tens of thousands of people — mostly women and children — were killed, ignored the historical situation and relied overly on questionable sources, and that the report had been manipulated by "organizations and individuals" seeking to rewrite Rwanda’s history.