Tangier, 11 November 2015

  •          Mr Ma Biao, Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference
  •          Mr Brahim Fassi Fihri, Chairman of the Amadeus Institute
  •          Excellencies
  •          Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

I am grateful for the invitation to participate in this very important event. Thank you very much for the kind words that have been expressed about me, and about my country and people.

This award from the Amadeus Institute is especially meaningful to me personally, as well as all of us in Rwanda, because it celebrates the values of peace and democracy.

By recognising the universal values at the heart of our journey of liberation and renewal, you have honoured the Rwandan people’s struggle and resilience. And for that, I sincerely thank you.

The most important thing to know about Rwanda is not that a genocide happened, but how we Rwandans recovered from that tragedy.

Peace is the starting point for growth and development. But peace is much more than the absence of violence.

True peace is above all a mindset. It is a condition produced when citizens are taken seriously as individuals, as stakeholders, and mobilised towards a good politics and fully included in governance.

All the economic and social progress we are making in Rwanda ultimately rests on these preconditions. One, safety and security of people. Two, being accountable with inclusive and democratic governance.

These principles have been the basis, not only for recovering our dignity as a nation, but also for making meaningful contributions as a productive member of the international community.

We can all always do more. But today a key obstacle to more effective global cooperation is the persistence of moral segregation in the very structures intended to bring us together.

The right of poorer or darker countries to chart our own course is constantly questioned, if not overtly subverted.

Judgement is passed on the choices we make, but without serious analysis of the realities or context on the ground, much less consideration of the views of the citizens most concerned.

But the quality or wisdom of a system is not the monopoly of any single country that I know of. And price of failure is no longer borne by the peoples of the South alone, as it mostly has been up to now.

Today we are profoundly interconnected. The structures of containment that kept the North insulated from the South are collapsing because of irreversible technological and economic changes.

Recent crises related to public health, migration, and the spread of all types of extremism, including terrorism, are the most obvious examples.

There has not necessarily been adequate or coordinated world response. This has created uncertainty, and even deep pessimism, about the future.

But we can choose instead to work together to build a fairer and more sustainable global order.

History has conditioned us to relate to each other on the basis of implicit moral hierarchies. But overcoming this legacy need not start with a change of heart but rather a recognition of our converging, legitimate interests.

Good order is certainly chief among these shared interests. Promoting disorder can never be a strategy for positive change, and yet it has become almost routine.

If the South has one message to convey to the North, it should be that our interests lie in working with each other, not against each other. Let us seek solutions through consensus and dialogue.

No one is stopping us from taking the lead in finding common ground. But for that to happen, we require a deeper understanding of the purpose of South-South cooperation itself.

Let me offer a few starting points for further consideration.

First, only by working together can we secure the freedom to do what is best for our peoples and our regions. This is about supporting each other to do the right things, not covering up wrong things, as is often cynically alleged.

Second, to manage the pace of change in the world today, we need more openness and exchange.

We have what we need to succeed right here on our continent. So when trade or migration barriers are raised against developing countries, let’s not respond in kind, but instead lower the barriers amongst ourselves even further.

Before I conclude, allow me a word about Morocco itself.

This country is much more than a bridge from one place to some other place. It has its own story as a part of our African continent, not merely in terms of geography, but much more importantly intertwined lives and hence extensive shared experience.

Moroccans faced the colonial negation of identity, culture, and dignity, just as the rest of Africa.

All along you remained true to yourselves while making practical contributions to Africa. We thank you.

Morocco’s increasing engagement around Africa is most welcome, and we in Rwanda are already seeing the results, such as investments in different sectors and other kinds of productive collaborations.

This should only be the start. Rwanda is ranked as one of the fastest-growing and safest countries, and one of the easiest places in Africa to do business.

So, to my brothers and sisters in Morocco, like all Africans, you can visit Rwanda without applying for visas. In the years ahead we are looking forward to welcoming more Moroccan investors and businesspeople to our country.

I wish to thank you once again for this honour bestowed upon me and my country and people. I wish you fruitful deliberations in the coming days.