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 Most of their complaints run along the same theme: that the institution is outdated, ineffectual, and corrupt.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.