Kigali, 9 November 2011

President Kagame and Cote d’Ivoire Prime Minister Guillaume Soro today joined the second and final day of the High Level Meeting on Post-conflict Peacebuilding that took place in Kigali.

Participants at the meeting recommended that relevant aspects of Rwanda’s experience in nationbuilding feed into the UN Peacebuilding Commission’s work, through a global platform for lessons sharing between countries.

In a statement at the end of the conference, Ambassador Eugene Gasana, Rwanda’s Permanent Representative to UN, and current Chair of the PBC said:

“The PBC should build on existing mechanisms within the UN system to facilitate the deployment of expertise from Rwanda, other African countries and countries from the global south, such as the civilian capacity mechanisms. The Government of Rwanda will continue to share its expertise in each of the areas addressed during the High-level Event with countries on the PBC agenda and other countries emerging from conflict.”

In today’s session on innovative approaches to statebuilding and socio-economic development, Rwanda’s Foreign Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo spoke about best practices drawn and modernized from Rwandan traditions, and that not only resonate successfully with the people but have become major drivers of the country’s development. She also described Rwanda’s new openness to regional and international collaboration;

“We had lived since our independence in the early 60s in a country where there was no encouragement to open up even to our neighbourhood – a sort of paranoia to openness. It was a traumatic experience to apply for a passport in the past but now you can do this online. We have opened our borders by integrating in the East African Community, opening embassies in West Africa and have gone to Asia to look for ways of improving the lives of our citizens. One of the revolutions of this country is the education system, which before was discriminatory, but has now brought about a major change in our society”.

Frederick Golooba-Mutebi, a researcher from Makerere University said that Rwanda has thrived on the unconventional;

“Critics of post-genocide Rwanda who claimed that Rwanda’s transformation was limited to the urban areas prompted me to carry out research and what I found out was different in areas of health, access to water and sanitation. I was able to see evidence of clear transformation even in the furthest areas of rural Rwanda”.

During the session on strategic use of aid, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Kampeta Sayinzoga spoke about the coordination mechanism and mutual accountability system established between donors and the government that have led to aid effectiveness. “When we started after the genocide we were accused of being dreamers and many donors did not believe that we could do what we did. Over time we have proven that being ambitious as a post conflict nation is a good thing and something that should not be laughed at because these targets can be achieved, not necessarily with a lot of aid money but also with political will”.

The European Union Head of delegation in Rwanda, Ambassador Michel Arrion talked about what he had observed in the last two years;

“Rwanda has an extremely committed leadership from the top to the grassroots – committed to the stability and security of the country, which is of primary importance for a country like Rwanda, but also to its development. It is a fair and equitable development, and this is extremely important. The benefits of development are equally and fairly distributed not only in Kigali but in the provinces, and benefits the poorest fringes of the population. Sometimes we read articles that say that Rwandan development is just for Kigali or only the rich people, but it is not true, and I hope that soon we will be able, through the demographic household survey to demonstrate scientifically that development in Rwanda is for everyone.”

Ambassador Arrion cited Vision 2020 Umurenge programme and mutuelles de santé system as two examples of social protection programmes that have had a profound impact on the welfare of Rwandans.

Bella Bird, the World Bank Country Director for North and South Sudan referred to the latest World Development Report’s emphasis on the need to build a culture of peace as a foundation for establishment of institutions.

“There is a lesson that other countries could take away from Rwanda. We often hear that international development partners like the World Bank and others do not relate to the experiences of countries coming out of conflict, that we bring our frameworks and models – yes we do, and throw labels like ‘kangaroo courts’ on what turns out to be a real effective local justice mechanism and we don’t necessarily understand. There is importance of building understanding between countries moving out of conflict and the partners that want to help them”.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Timor Leste, Jose Luis Guterres commended the progress he had witnessed in Rwanda and spoke about the process of recovery in his country;

“Rwandans have to be congratulated for what they have achieved. Survivors have had the courage and humanity to find new ways to reaffirm that values that are common to us all in respect of human life. The question of reconciliation is fundamental. In Timor, too many people have suffered. As a nation we have achieved justice – a free and independent country. Whatever we did in the past is because we want to stand up for peace”.

The African Development bank pledged to take lessons learned from Rwanda’s statebuilding process to other post-conflict countries. The meeting proposed the establishment of a peer to peer exercise to share learning on the importance of self driven and nationally owned state building processes. The outcome document will be shared with the g7+ Group of conflict affected states to draw on the lessons learned from Rwanda’s experience in the practical implementation of the “New Deal” at the next High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness which will take place in Busan, Republic of Korea between 29 November and 3 December 2011.