Had the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda – ICTR and UN peacekeepers’ forces in DR Congo – MONUSCO been effective from the beginning, these two structures would’ve saved millions of lives in the Great Lakes region. Furthermore, they wouldn’t have wasted billions of dollars from taxpayers’ money from countries which are members of the UN.
The ICTR was created following resolution 955 of the UN Security Council, adopted on November, 8th 1994. Its aim was to prosecute people responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda that year. Judge Dennis Byron, President of the tribunal, while presenting his annual report to the General Assembly on October 8th, 2010, explained that, ‘despite major obstacles, including staffing, the Tribunal – based in the Tanzanian city of Arusha – has made “significant progress” in the completion of its mandate.‘ Surprisingly, he was asking for more resources.
November 2010 it will be sixteen years that ICTR will have been put in place. The budget spent on its operations will be almost 1.5 billion $ by the end of 2010. The Tribunal has so far investigated and sentenced only one side to the Rwandan genocide. It is noteworthy mentioning the fact that unlike the Holocaust in Germany, for the case of Rwanda, atrocities were committed in the middle of a civil war which had begun on October 1, 1990 between RPF and Habyarimana government. The Nuremberg Tribunal for Nazi criminals lasted only from 1945 to 1949.
The first invasion of DR Congo by the coalition of Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Laurent-Desire Kabila’s AFDL in 1996 was made partially possible by the fact that US and Britain through their agents in UN structures disregarded the Gersony report, which was produced in October 94. The document shows evidence of records of between 30,000 and 40,000 mainly Hutus that Paul Kagame and his forces killed from April to September 94 in Rwanda. Can we hypothetically imagine what would’ve happened if ICTR had straightforwardly and seriously started investigating those crimes at the same time it pursued perpetrators of the genocide against Tutsis? DRC’s invasion would’ve surely taken a different path.
DR Congo was invaded the second time in 1998 when Laurent Desire Kabila, president of the country decided to become his own man and defend national interests instead of being a proxy of US and Britain in the region as were and still are Rwanda and Uganda. His bravery got him assassinated in 2001. The war which had involved several other African countries, officially ended in 2003. It left in its trail a state of loose occupation of parts of the North Eastern and Eastern Congolese provinces by Rwandan and Ugandan supported militias. This situation has prevailed until today and is characterized by the presence of a multitude of forces serving different interests on DR Congo soil.
Considered the volatility of the context and in order to avoid its deterioration, MONUC was set up in 1999 to facilitate peace. It became MONUSCO in May 2010 with a mandate of stabilizing DR Congo. Despite UN forces’ presence, illegal mining and trafficking of minerals have continued as if peacekeepers were there to protect these operations. In addition, serial rapes have endlessly been committed nearly in the vicinity of the UN mission in Eastern Congo. This UN structure is the biggest peacekeeping mission ever set up. Its military and civil personnel stand at 22,000 men and women and its approved budget only for July 2010 to June 2011 is $1.4 billion.
Lost lives that these UN institutions didn’t protect are today nearly 8 millions so far. The count is far from ending. Ugandan and Rwanda dictatorships they have enabled to stay in power for so many decades are pursuing undisturbed their objectives in the region. The last of their achievements is the creation of the East African Economic Community. At first hindsight, the idea looks as a great step for the development of the region.
Knowing the personalities who are spearheading and dubiously pushing for a fast paced realization of the East African Community, other leaders and citizens of concerned countries should be more assertive and critical of the path they are nearly being bullied to get into. In fact, the speed with which letters of accreditation from the West are being presented to the nearly formed community should raise some questions from those caring seriously for the interests of the region.
Society in the West is somewhat today paying with drastic budget cuts following an unprecedented financial crisis, the price of its politicians’ adventurism. It’s true the latter has been playing with Africans’ lives in exchange of minerals for technology and military industries of developed countries. Unfortunately, while there is no wrong doing in the pursuit of the riches wherever they could be, multinationals and governments they are associated with, have until today failed to be accountable for African lives they facilitate to destroy. As proof, there is no mention at all of the responsibility of the West in the recently published UN report on crimes committed in DR Congo between 1993 and 2003, though there are plenty evidence of its involvement, through supplying equipment, providing training or advising.
It is shameful that a lot of UN members’ taxpayers’ money has been wasted on ICTR, MONUC and MONUSCO with so poor achievements. If they had been less politicized they could’ve achieved more. Could they be a good lesson in mismanagement of public resources from the international community? If this could be acknowledged, at least they would’ve served to something helpful.
Africans in general and those particularly from the Great Lakes region should stop being distracted. There are identifiable forces from the West using local warlords, which are at work continuously to get hold of RD Congo’s wealth. At the same time they have been for many years maliciously misleading public opinion to distract people from the real issues. And they persist to demonstrate that they don’t care about African lives. Taking responsibility and ownership of their destiny needs to become second nature to Africans, if they want to be free from their exploiters.