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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Remembering Rwanda: NZ's responsibility

Local reflections on the 20th anniversary of the genocide are academic.  Dr Graham does not mention New Zealand's part in the genocide.  New Zealand chaired the UN Security Council during the genocide.  When everyone says the UN should have done something and didn't they should be aware that NZ government representatives were part of that critical failure.

The NZ delegation may blame the US, UK and France for their intransigence and caution, but at best NZ's humanitarian intentions were ineffective because they had no influence.  At worst, it was ineffective because they were part of the white colonial club - the Anglo-American bloc - who didn't see a massacre in black Africa as a worthy problem for their attention.  

Given the colossal catastrophe that was Rwanda, I was amazed to hear PM John Key last week trying to talk up gaining a seat on the UNSC by mentioning the NZ presidency during the Rwanda crisis as if it were evidence of having done a good job.  Quite the contrary.  This is what John Key calls a good job: one of the top ten worst UNSC resolutions of all time according to Foreign Policy blog.  If overseeing the systematic slaughter of 800,000 Africans is Key's idea of a good job, I'd hate to see what a poor performance would look like.  

The FP blog quotes NZ's UN rep at the time, Colin Keating:
"This is part of the modus operandi: well, we got it wrong, too bad, let's move on," said Colin Keating, a former New Zealand ambassador to the U.N. who now runs the Security Council Report. "This is not an organ that sees itself as accountable to anybody, and certainly not to the principle of historical accuracy."
Keating was given a medal by the Rwandan government, but it was for doing precious little in the scheme of things.  When considering what should and could have been done by the NZ delegation as 
the president of the Security Council at the time the scant resume presented for the conferral speaks to how hopeless the situation was that so little is being so honoured.  The citation reads:
[...] The Genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda coincided with the peak of your diplomatic career. As your country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations between 1993 and 1996, you served on the Security Council in 1993 and 1994; presiding over this Council during the genocide in 1994.
During this moment of crisis, you availed yourself and members of your mission to representatives of the Rwandese Patriotic Front and listened to their version of the situation, in the interest of gathering information from diverse sources of objective accounts of what was really unfolding in Rwanda.
You lent your voice to other lone and courageous voices that were indignant about the deafening silence of the then Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations. You were vocal in your disapproval of the French-led Operation Turquoise.
Doesn't sound that pro-active: we went to a meeting, we listened, we knew what was going on, and all we did was one of our bullshit speeches about our proud independent voice and concern - all delivered from underneath the petticoats of the UK and US.  Did NZ offer troops, or resources as part of a NZ solution?  Of course not, NZ does as it is told.  

And with regard to Keating’s comments about historical accuracy and the Security Council now being echoed by Key's revisionism - it absolutely must be noted that the regime giving the medal is Tutsi and that Keating supports them in denouncing a critical report of the regime's forces in the Congo.  So there are reasons why such a low threshold of support is being applied to someone who basically sat on their hands when they were being killed.  It is all so hideously cynical.


At 12/4/14 4:52 pm, Blogger paul scott said...

Your report is disturbing Tim,. especially when I read how much McCully wanted to represent NZ on Security Council and he said what a useless deranged body it is.


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