7 February 2013

Rwanda: ICTR and Monusco - Two Bedfellows


If there is anything to motivate a review of the functioning of UN missions, then the legacy of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the DR Congo (Monusco) should inspire this decision.

These two UN missions share a lot in common. They bring out the worst examples of incompetence, inconsistency and abuse of the very values for which they were created.

They have eaten up billions of dollars and continue to swallow more; yet the mandates for which they were established remain far-fetched. When it comes to time, they have been as slow as molasses in January and have instead turned into a burden for the very people they were supposed to serve.

Created in November 1994 under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 955, ICTR has been in existence on paper for 19 years and in operation for 16 years.

A child born at the time of hearing the first case of Jean Paul Akayezu, 16 years ago, is today in high school. At that time, a Genocide survivor who was a toddler, aged 3 years is now 19 years and looking forward to cast their first vote come this September's parliamentary poll.

And yet this court is still dragging its feet with miserable results. It is leaving a legacy of according Genocide masterminds liberty than render justice to victims of this slaughter. If you think I am wrong, look at the numbers of those who remain at large and those who have been acquitted under flimsy circumstances.

Like the UK Telegraph reported this week, ICTR has been a 'waste of time and money,' largely going by the amount of resources it has consumed and the results at hand. It promised to indict 700 suspects in 1994, today it has indicted a mere 92, of which a sizable number remains at large. A total of 72 cases have passed through the court, meaning that on average, this court has been finishing 4.5 cases each year at the cost of almost $100 million a year or $22 million per case completed.

Its twin operation in DRC is not any different. It is a case of time wasted and money poorly spent. Monusco has been in DRC since 2000 and, for the last 13 years, the stability it was supposed to bring to this troubled nation remains a dream.

For a staggering $1.2 billion budget annually, the legacy of this force has been more to do with fomenting conflict than resolving it.

Its troops have not only been caught pants down, raping Congolese women but also plundered DRC's minerals in broad day light.

The level of moral and financial corruption in both missions is simply disgusting to say the least.

For example, when it comes to the ICTR, you find that the suspects held at this court have benefited more than the Genocide victims for whom the court was created. It is an open secret that the Defence Attorneys at the ICTR split their fees with the suspects who hire them. Both parties strike a deal on how to prolong a case, earn more money and then share it along a particular ratio.

As a result, some of these fellows are stunningly rich today. Through their next of kin and confidants, they run multi-million dollar companies across the continent with start-up capital coming from these dubious dealings. Yet, the ICTR knows about these illegal transactions but has failed to stop it.

On the other hand, the survivors neither see justice (as justice delayed is justice denied) nor receive reparations.

When it comes to corrupt tendencies, Monusco is not any better. The political cadre in this mission milks handsomely from this crisis. For them, the longer the conflict, the more the returns, hence they will do everything within their means to keep it so.

If the intention of setting up ICTR and Monusco was to render justice to victims of Genocide in Rwanda and bringing peace to DRC, respectively, then the UN has undoubtedly scored miserably. The beneficiaries of both missions are yet to see these fruits.

Nonetheless, the shortcomings of these two missions offer incredible lessons from which the UN can draw to make future missions better. But is this organisation bothered? Your guess is as good as mine.

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