THE United Nations General Assembly yesterday elected Rwanda to one of the rotational seats on the UN Security Council for the 2013-2014 term.
Along with Argentina and Australia, Rwanda was elected on the first ballot.
Rwanda was unopposed in her bid for the Africa seat, but needed to win a two-thirds majority of the 193-member General Assembly. Rwanda won 148 votes.
Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo thanked UN members for the faith they have shown in Rwanda.
“We are grateful to have won the support of so many of our fellow member states who responded to our message. Rwanda values peace and we are honoured to serve. We particularly thank our friends and allies throughout Africa for their overwhelming support,” Mushikiwabo said.
Rwanda, which enjoyed unanimous backing of the African Union, last served on the Security Council in 1993-94 during which period the country endured Genocide which left more than one million people butchered.
Rwanda is an active member of the UN and the sixth largest contributor to peacekeeping operations worldwide.
“The contrast could not be sharper between that previous tenure — when a genocidal government occupied a prized Security Council seat as its agents waged genocide back home — and the Rwanda of today: a nation of peace, unity, progress and optimism,” Mushikiwabo said.
She stressed how this troubling recent history allows Rwanda to offer a unique perspective on matters of war and peace at the Security Council.
“Working with fellow members, Rwanda will draw on its experience to fight for the robust implementation of the responsibility to protect doctrine that demands that the world takes notice — and action –when innocent civilians face the threat of atrocities at the hands of their governments, with the understanding that situations have specificities that need to be taken into account,” Mushikiwabo said.
The minister promised that Rwanda would seek opportunities to work with fellow UN Security Council members to ensure it is responsive and reflective of the views and aspirations of the developing world, in particular the African continent.
“The world is undergoing a period of exciting but uncertain change.
“Africa is not just growing economically, but our vision and the contribution we can make to the world is also expanding. Over the next two years, we hope to ensure that this new reality is reflected in the way the UN Security Council conducts itself in the 21st century,” Mushikiwabo said.
Despite a candidate-less campaign against Rwanda, complete with the leak of a UN Sanctions report two days before the vote accusing it of supporting the M23 mutineers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda still won the elections in the fist round as other countries entered the second round.
Rwanda will be replacing South Africa whose term expires in December.
The development meant a lot to Rwandans as many of them expressed their excitement on social networking sites.
The Council is the highest decision making organ at the global body, particularly on matters of maintaining peace.
Rwanda will now represent the eastern and southern Africa region for a two-year term commencing on January 1, 2013.
In accordance with the Security Council’s rotation rules, ten non-permanent UN Security Council seats rotate among the various regional blocs into which UN member states traditionally divide themselves for voting and representation purposes.
Under the procedure, countries are unofficially divided into five geopolitical regional groups; Rwanda belongs to the Africa Group, with 54 member states that translate into 28 per cent of representation at the UN.
The Africa Group is the largest regional grouping by member states with three seats.
By press time, the general assembly had entered another round of voting to decide who wins the second seat. Cambodia, Bhutan and South Korea are also competing for one available Asia-Pacific seat.
Reactions on the election
“We congratulate the government of Rwanda and we have utmost confidence that it will effectively represent the interests and aspirations of the continent.”
It shows solidarity among African nations.
“The continent supported Rwanda through the African Union and the East
African Community, as a bloc, also did. There wasn’t any African country that was challenging Rwanda, which shows how much trust Africa has in Rwanda as a nation.”