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Implementing the 'Kigali Principles' for Peacekeeping

The Kigali Principles event took place on Wednesday December 14th 2016 at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Approximately 220 people attended, with a mixture of individuals from the government, academia, diplomatic corps, civil society, NGOs, militaries, police, think tanks and others. Rwanda worked on this project in collaboration with the U.S., Uruguay, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and USIP.

Welcoming remarks were offered by Nancy Lindborg, President of the USIP, who thanked all invitees for their attendance and expressed USIP’s commitment to the cause of protection of civilians. After the opening remarks, Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana gave a brief introduction of the Kigali Principles and reiterated the role that Rwanda has played in peacekeeping worldwide, and why the principles remain a standard of best practices in the protection of civilians.
Various speakers noted that Rwanda is a case of a nation that survived the failure of the protection of civilians, but that the initiative of the Kigali Principles will ensure that civilians do not continue to suffer during conflict.

Two panels made up of Ambassadors (Netherlands and Uruguay), TCCs (Rwanda and Togo), DPKO representatives, U.S. representatives (both the Departments of State and Defense), and civil society representatives looked at the challenges in peacekeeping and ways to better the movement from mandate to implementation.

The RDF Chief of Defense Staff, Gen Patrick Nyamvumba, shared his experience as former Force Commander, and shed some light on the challenges that arise on the ground, indicating gaps between mandate and what is needed in situations where civilians are threatened. The CDS also highlighted the changing nature of conflicts from interstate to intrastate, stressing that the Kigali Principles are significantly more relevant today, as business as usual is no longer acceptable. Adequate training, minimization of caveats, and commitment from States were raised among other suggestions for tools to ensure proper and timely protection of civilians. Many also touched on the need for the UN to incorporate the Kigali Principles in their training documents to improve their impact.

The event was very well received, with engaging comments and substantive questions from the audience. The discussion indicated that this was a useful conversation to bring to the community in the capital, closer to financial and political decision makers, as well as members of the diplomatic corps who can continue to push for the endorsement of the Kigali Principles and advocate for their implementation to improve peacekeeping.

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