Rwanda/1994 and Libya/2011 are significant African case studies of UN role

In some political circles and commentators’ views on the ongoing situation in northern Africa, it has been alleged that US strong backing of an intervention in Libya was motivated by its decisive and calculated weak support for UN involvement in Rwanda back in 1994, and the genocide that unfolded as a consequence. This is not utterly wrong or completely right. In fact, in both contexts, US with its allies in intervention or non intervention adopted positions which have constantly been aimed at first and foremost preserving their political, economic and strategic interests. This should be an important point of reference for anyone trying to analyse or understand the role of UN and its structures including the Security Council which decides on the position to take to address any conflict or situation with possible negative impact on populations around the world.

As some may know, UN was established in 1945. ‘At the founding of the United Nations in San Francisco, 47 of the US delegates were CFR members, including Secretary of State Edward Stattinius, John Foster Dulles, Nelson Rockfeller, Adlai Stevenson, and the man who held the first position as chairman of the United Nations, Alger Hiss,’ as Thom Burnett and Alex Games reveal in their book, ‘Who really run the world’ which was published in 2005. ‘The agreed constitutive document pledged the establishment of a general international organisation, based on the sovereign equality of all peace-loving states and open to membership by all such states, large and small, for the maintenance of international peace and security, ‘ their book continues. But it is worth noting that ‘the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is considered by those who know the workings and influences of secret societies as “the secretive group” that may well really run the world,” argues Baffour Ankomah in New African – February 2008.

Over the years it has emerged that the UN institution has come to be seen as an instrument in the hands of powerful nations. It is used according to their selfish interests. History has many examples where this has been the case. To mention but a few, people can remember the situation of Western Saharoui Republic which has been denied its independence until now because of US support to Morocco which occupies the territory. Mineral resources and geopolitics are in the equation. Another example is the biggest ever UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO with its 20,000 contingent which cannot fulfil its objectives of peace and stability because it was designed to be so. Again this was because of minerals and geopolitics in the Great lakes of Africa, and particularly Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwanda in April 1994 appears to be an unusual case. Despite strong evidence of a humanitarian situation which required then an international intervention, non intervention of UN was applied for military and strategic reasons on the part of those among powerful members of the institution, namely US and UK who wanted an increased influence in the region. This was achieved by supporting the Rwandan Patriotic Front of Paul Kagame, politically and militarily, and responding positively to all its demands from 1990 onwards.  In the first weeks of the Rwandan genocide, almost immediately after the assassination of the incumbent president on April 6th, 1994, by the rebels, an RPF delegation was sent out to US to stop UN intervention. Francis Muhoozi explains in his book, ‘A lack of logic in the Great lakes region of Africa’ published in 2011, ‘According to the testimony of Paul Mugabe, … after assassinating President Habyarimana and setting off the start of the genocide early April 1994, can Kagame explain to the Rwandan people and the world why he sent Claude Dusayidi and Charles Muligande to New York and Washington to stop the UN military intervention which was supposed to be sent and protect the Rwandan people from the genocide? He actually threatened to attack this noble UN Force at that time. The reason behind his selfish act was to avoid that UN military intervention so as to allow his RPF takeover power in Kigali and show the world that they – the National Resistance Army/Rwandan Patriotic Front – were the ones who stopped the genocide.’

When RPF claims that it has stopped the genocide, while it is the one who triggered it and fuelled it at some extent, this becomes ironic. Presently the general public including Tutsi survivors know why internal Tutsis were massacred. RPF leaders considered them as traitors for having accepted to live peacefully with Hutus after the revolution of 1959 when Tutsi monarchy was abolished. In addition, the death of internal Tutsis during the genocide could help strongly victimise Hutus for ever and consequently keep them away from political power. That is what has been happening since 1994. The situation which, after April 1994, has prevailed in Rwanda and in the entire Great Lakes of Africa has become a human tragedy consequent to the premeditated failure of UN on the part particularly of US and UK.

The intervention of UN in Libya has become another failure of this institution for two main reasons. One is about the betrayal of trust from countries sitting at the Security Council at the moment. These include South Africa, Nigeria and Gabon who supported the resolution 1973 for a no fly zone, or those who like Russia, India and China, abstained. The warmongers at the Security Council, this time , France in the lead then followed by UK, and both supported by US, have been interpreting the UN resolution in the way that get them access to the Libyan oil the fastest, without any consideration of possible tragic consequences for civilian, though this was the initial pretext for the UN decision. That is what is making the general public in the West not being highly supportive of what their governments are doing by going beyond the intent of the UN resolution of protecting civilian populations.

I remember another UN humanitarian intervention, Turquoise, which was led by France in June 1994 with the mission of protecting civilians. If that mission had for example done all over the Rwandan territory what the coalition against Kaddafi is currently doing, pretending to protect populations, RPF wouldn’t have occupied the country and killed so many civilians as this would later emerge in different UN reports. Unfortunately, the French mission, though authorised by UN, did not have the full backing of the Anglo-Saxons – US and UK who wanted their share of the region at any cost. They got it now with eight millions dead in the bag. Let’s hope and pray that Libyan rebels are less blood hungry than their peers currently ruling in the Great lakes of Africa.


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