The Soapbox: Rwanda's Security Council appointment senseless

Justin Crann
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Justin Crann

Moose Javians, my name is Justin Crann, and I am a Toronto expatriate.

Born and raised in that city’s west end, I am familiar with the imposition of the world’s (formerly) tallest freestanding building on a progressively overcrowded skyline, the muss of big-city politics and the insanity of an underfunded transit system. I’m not devotedly loyal to sports franchises that seem to have made a science out of defeat. I like games of strategy. I enjoy a strong coffee. I walk fast, talk slowly and do a lot of thinking.

My favourite pastime is casual conversation about things that matter: politics, history, business, theology and social issues. And those are the topics I’m going to use this soapbox to discuss.

In that spirit, I’m going to talk about the United Nations.

Last Thursday, the UN Security Council announced the five nations that would join it at the onset of next year as non-permanent members.

Included in that group were generally progressive countries such as Australia, South Korea and Luxembourg. Argentina secured the fourth seat.

These are all positive additions to a council that needs the perspective of countries outside of the standard G8 grouping. The inclusion of second-world nations will serve to represent the interests of the developing world.

It is the fifth country to join the Security Council that has raised red flags. That country is Rwanda.

A small African nation, Rwanda is perhaps best known for being the site of a civil war that snowballed into a full-blown genocide in the early-to-mid-'90s.

In the years following the genocide, Rwanda has contributed to instability in its region, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where it actively funded and supported militant groups in a spill-over conflict driven by the same cultural hatreds that fuelled the genocide within its own borders.

In spite of a gradually improving quality of life and standard of justice, few have ever accused Rwanda of being particularly stable, or having the interests of international security in mind.

The choice of appointment, then, is particularly concerning, especially as it was made a day after a UN report was leaked that said Rwanda was, again, up to its old tricks in the DRC.

The UN has more than a few critics. Many of them belong to the United States’s Republican Party. Most of their complaints run along the same theme: that the institution is outdated, ineffectual, and corrupt. While it would be a stretch to say this appointment confirms those claims, it certainly lends credence to them.

As a Canadian, I was disappointed when our country lost a bid for a seat on the Security Council last year. That was the first time Canada had ever lost a bid for a Security Council seat. But my rebuke of Rwanda’s appointment is not simple sour grapes. It’s a point of principle.

How could a nation that has actively supported and promoted hostility within its own region of the world “maintain international peace and security” and “develop friendly relations among nations,” identified as priorities by the Security Council’s own mandate?

The painfully obvious answer is that it can’t.

I’m an optimist. I want the United Nations to work. I want to believe there is an organization in existence that can help promote international peace, stability and justice. The appointment of Rwanda to the Security Council has badly shaken that belief.


Organizations: UN Security Council, United Nations, Republican Party

Geographic location: Rwanda, Toronto, Democratic Republic of the Congo Australia South Korea Luxembourg Argentina United States Canada

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Recent comments

  • Hope
    November 01, 2012 - 02:01

    "I am familiar with the imposition of the world’s (formerly) tallest freestanding building on a progressively overcrowded skylin" , this may be true for Jusitin but NOT the great lakes history and present. A canadian like Justin, should at least ask their fellow canadians like Gen. Romeo who know a bit of the history. Rwanda has not only contributes to peace and stability in the region but also in the world. Is Justin aware of Rwanda troops in peace keeping missions in Sudan, Hait, Liberia, etc? If not driven by some else, an enemy of Rwanda, Justin is just a hater of Rwanda. Rwanda knows far better than Justin, the value of peace and this is what Rwanda wants to share during the tenure in the security council. Justin, who would you propose to represent Africa in the UNSC? Hope

  • Feddy Imenagitero
    October 27, 2012 - 06:08

    The writer of this article is obsviously ignorant of the Great Lakes Region of Africa. I believe he just sits in Canada and browse the Internet where information are most of the time posted by detractors of Rwanda. Rwanda having known times of turmoil is not its hobby, rather it is an aftermath of colonial divisions that were left by the so called civilized world. I advise the writer to get out of senseless stereotypes and visit this small country of Africa which gradually becoming an African model. It has a lot to bring to the UNSC's table having known injustices, war and peace. Put aside those biased UN experts' reports which are leaked for a purpose. Rwanda may be small but it has always challenged the wrong prescriptions of the so called international community. I advise you to think out of the box and assess why this small nation is always victimized.

  • rutinwa
    October 27, 2012 - 04:59

    Mr Justin,as a rwandan ,i would be disappointed also if we were not appointed in the security council coz we're member of the UN as canada is;and to make things clear,i would like to remind you that Rwanda did not support hostilities in DR Congo,but it has helped to bring peace in that country since years,but our neighbours are not serious at all. in 2009 R Congo and Rwanda agreed to take joint action against the FDLR militia, whose leaders have been linked to the 1994 Rwandan genocide, this is to let you know that the presence of FDLR in eastern congo lies at the heart of the region's instability,not the Rwandan government. i would like to inform you also that due to an absentee state on most of DRCongo territory, the lack of even rudimentary state infrastructure for security and administration poses a clear and immediate threat to Rwanda,and this was well known by the security council that canada has been a member since long time,so,what was it's contribution to resolve that problem? what have you done to prevent one million people to be exterminated in 1994?,and you were a member of the UNSC? Mr justin,i think that you are not aware of this region's problems.

  • Albcontact
    October 27, 2012 - 03:38

    Justin, I'm amazed you were able to write so many lines to try to form an opinion. It seems your "world" must be no larger than the two blocks where you're living. Rwanda has been abandoned in 1994 by the UN when it was victim of Genocide. And a Genocide is not a civil war, just google it up if connected so you don't contribute to denial. Again the UN and the International Community mismanaged the aftermath of it and let the Genocide perpetrators occupy and terrorize Eastern Congo. The rest is a bit too complicated to explain in a few lines. But you need to know that Rwanda's contribution to International peace keeping has been hailed by many in the International Community. As a reminder they have been the Backbone in Sudan, contributed in Liberia- Haiti and others. And if you believe you can minimize Rwanda's achievements over the last 18 years, on how quality of life and expectations have increased tremendously ... you find just one spot on this planet that has achieved anything close to that ... You'll understand why Rwanda was the best choice for the UNSC.

  • eddie
    October 27, 2012 - 00:44

    In reply to the comments made by my fellow Canadian concerning Rwandas apointment.I think before pointing finger at Rwanda , one should take time to learn what Rwanda is positively doing by contributing peace keepers to Darfor south Sudan,Haiti ,also keeping its borders secure and its cizens in peace and security.Sir I agree that UN is out dated so are although you look younger.Please go and find out facts by yourself.The rest is that you are being misled by media.Rwanda will do well to represent the continent on the security council.

  • Ann Garrison
    October 26, 2012 - 23:04

    Clear thinking, Justin. Just posted to my Facebook page.