Aline Joyce's Corner

Aline Joyce's Corner's is a personal blog with stories about her personal life and her extra-curriculum activities. She features articles related to youth, youth social inclusion, volunteering, peace building in Rwanda as well as global issues.

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20 Years On, Where Are We? Is Never Again An Irony?

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The worst thing in life I can probably wish for is being 20 years old next month. You do not need to be a great thinker or historian to imagine how horrible the 3 months over which the genocide committed against the Tutsis were. Of course I wasn't born yet and I can remember I was explained about what actually occurred when I was six. They could no longer hide it from me as after watching horrible images on a neighbours TV set, I asked my parents and ants questions after questions. It was not a scary movie I had seen. My people were killing my people.

Ruth is my English tutor and she's from Scotland. I often question her what scots would think of me if I visit her city Edinburg and introduce myself as Rwandan. Would they think I am an assassin or what?. '' some would probably think you are not a good person yes'' she narrated eyeing my face to check if I was uncomfortable or ashamed. ''People tend to store awful images on their minds for a very long time. They would associate Rwanda with genocide, Ethiopia with famine —or worse, terrorism with Muslim. Rwanda has moved on a great deal!'' She concluded.

She couldn't be more right. As Rwandans we have learned a  lesson about our unity and tolerance to one another in the hardest way possible and we want to build a prosperous nation with a more peaceful society. However I can't help myself not thinking if a genocide can still occur in my country or elsewhere in the world. Is the ''never again'' slogan an irony? Would the Nations Nations intervene if we had to kill each other?

For me, you don't need to be a political science teacher at Harvard or Oxford to answer both questions. For the 1st, as I know it, the genocide that took place in Rwanda and elsewhere before then were made possible by bad and greedy Leadership. Unfortunately bad leaders with personal agenda and interests will always try to lead our nation. It is our responsibility —young and old —to learn how to challenge them when they try to divide us. In Rwanda we have the same culture, same language and same... well everything. In contrast the Belgians, —Oh yes, the Belgians who made up the difference between us—speak 3 different languages; so do the Swiss. They have lived side by side sometimes with heated politics but no one has killed even a neighbour's pet so far. This is our time as young leaders to define the path of our country. A country where there are no Hutus Nor Tutsis but Rwandans.

Regarding the second question, we need to understand the reason the United Nations did not intervene in Rwanda before we can figure out whether a lesson has been learned. This might seem an easy question in itself but the way this global institution works is very complicated which makes the question complex.There has been a feeling in Rwanda that the former Secretary General Mr Kofi Annan who was in charge of the peacekeeping missions at the United Nations during the genocide should take the blame of the UN failure in Rwanda. But what could he have done? Not even the Secretary General himself can take any decision to deploy a peacekeeping mission or an intervention brigade to any nation without the permission of the security council, a powerful UN organ that takes all major decisions known as resolutions at the UN

UNSC, New York: Russia vetoed off a resolution condemning it's own actions in Ukraine.

The UNSC has 15 member states of which 5 are permanent. All permanent members have veto powers which means that they can block any decision if they don't want it to pass. Yes, one permanent member of the security council can veto any decision even if all the 14 want it to be adopted. A dictatorship at its best? Probably! The permanent members of the security council are China, Russia, France, UK and USA. The rest of the UNSC are voted for only 2 years and have no veto powers of course. My view and probably the view of most Africans is that those powerful nations put their national interests before the world peace. They would not vote for any resolutions especially those on which their governments would spend money and other resources if they are convinced there is nothing in return. They just condemn with no serious actions. Back to the question now —would the United Nations intervene in Rwanda for rescue missions if we had to kill each other once again? The answer is PROBABLY NOT! Unfortunately. As explained, it's all about interests, some ''experts'' can argue that Rwanda has now more to offer strategically to those nations than it could in 1994. Maybe! My analysis skills are not there just yet.

This is the thing.. As Rwandans, we have 2 options to choose from. The first option is to define who we are and set boundaries to live together in peace and harmony helping one another as brothers and sisters in  good and bad. And that's what we are — Turi abavandimwe. Aren't we?

The second option is that we need to work hard and make our tiny nation Very attractive to decision-makers in the United Nations. The ''easiest'' way is to create petrol wells, many of them somewhere in Kivu or in other lakes throughout the country. We also need mineral reserves, cobalt and gold as well as diamonds in each district of the country. Once we have got all of these and everyone worldwide knows Rwanda is wealthy we can start fighting and killing each other with machetes and akandoyi. This is a guarantee the UN would send intervention brigades with fighter jets in no-time. I leave the choice to you!

Question: The permanent members of the UNSC are the giants of the world economy. So where is Japan and Germany?

The United Nations as a global organisation was set up after the Second World War,  precisely on 25 October 1945 to promote peace and security and international cooperation between nations. At the time the world was divided as the Second World War had been opposing mainly those countries who set it up on one side and eventually awarding themselves the veto powers against Germany and Japan on the other end which lost the war. Times have changed now and both Germany and Japan are very successful nations economically and in democracy but the big 5 are happy to keep governing the world without them. I honestly believe they need some lessons from countries like South Africa and.... Rwanda in terms of reconciliation!

Question: So what the security council did or failed to do in case of Rwandan genocide?

Just about 48 hours before the genocide against the Tutsis began, precisely on 5 April 1994, the The council voted a resolution to extend the peacekeeping mission of 2500 personnel known as UNAMIR which had been established on 5 October 1993 by Security Council Resolution 872 . Its mandate included ensuring the security of the capital city of Kigali, monitoring the ceasefire agreement known as Arusha accord, monitoring the security situation during the final period of the transitional Government's mandate leading up to elections, assisting with mine-clearance among others. The UNAMIR has a vague mandate created under Chapter VI of the UN Charter which was unclear about the right to use force, particularly in defence of civilians. The mission's original intention was to oversee the implementation of the Arusha peace agreement which detailed how power needed to be shared between all political parties, the army and the organisation of elections. However, by the time of the genocide, the peace agreement was completely irrelevant and UNAMIR was legally powerless. When the genocide started, among the 1st casualties were the then prime minister Agathe Uwiringiyimana and 10 Belgian soldiers part of the UNAMIR who protected her. The Belgian government quickly called for the withdrawal of the Belgian contingent of UNAMIR. Other nations' contingents were also withdrawn and UNAMIR was left with only 270 soldiers supported by less than 200 local authorities. At the time of this withdrawal, the genocide was on its pick time. Lieutenant-General Dallaire requested the immediate insertion of approximately 5,000 troops, but his request was denied until the 17 May 1994, when the UN security council adopted a resolution that would deliver nearly 5,500 troops and much needed personnel carriers and other equipment to UNAMIR. However this resolution was still unclear on the right to use force in stopping the genocide. Also it's deployment was delayed for several months over arguments about who should cover the costs and also many UN member states delayed contributing personnel until the main wave of killings ceased and eventually the RPF soldiers defeated the then government soldiers. Ironically Rwanda was member of the security council during this time.


Aline Joyce Berabose is a keen reader and writer. She writes about issues related to youth and peace building. At 17, she has developed interest in blogging and global issues at early age. One of the brightest scholars in science, Multilingual and good communicator, Aline Joyce is involved in several activities including volunteering and debating.