Peace is much more than the absence of violence – Kagame

By Théophile Niyitegeka
On 13 octobre 2021 at 10:53

President Paul Kagame has stressed the need to concert efforts taking into consideration different aspects to attain sustainable peace and urged countries to work together to achieve better results in international peacebuilding.

“Peace is much more than the absence of violence. The precondition for sustainable peace is a shared understanding of the root causes of a conflict, by a broad range of stakeholders in society,” he said.

The President made the call on Tuesday 12th October 2021 at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)’s Debate on Peacebuilding and Sustainable Peace.

Chaired by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the meeting was attended by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, former South African President Thabo Mbeki and a civil society representatives among others.

As he delivered remarks, Kagame also shared thoughts on what sustainable peace may entail, picking an example from Rwanda’s recent experience.

“First, peacebuilding should be understood as an ongoing process, a constant search for solutions through dialogue and consensus, as we say in Rwanda. It may not be possible to entirely prevent all conflicts. In fact, disagreements and grievances will always be there, in one form or another. But the intensity and impact of conflicts can be minimized by remaining attentive to local needs and expectations,” said Kagame.

This means, according to the President, investing in the capacity of institutions and individuals, so they can deliver the results that citizens expect and deserve.

Secondly, Kagame highlighted that there is no universal template that can be transferred automatically from one context to another.

He said that external advice and examples can be helpful in encouraging reflection and finding new approaches noting that Rwanda has benefitted from various partnerships.

“Third, we must reckon with the growing power of social media to exploit vectors of division in society, that can quickly weaken the social fabric. Finally, peacebuilding is not a purely technical enterprise. It is deeply political and human and must take account of the emotions and memories that various parties bring to the table,” underscored Kagame.

Despite the opportunity to learn lessons from previous failures and successes of peacebuilding processes, Kagame said that the international community’s toolbox has hardly changed.

To this end, the President shared thoughts on Rwanda’s experience along resilience journey after the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi where success is always an option in whatever circumstances.

“Rwanda’s post-genocide trajectory is marked by a consistent focus on national unity, inclusion, and service delivery. There are other positive examples from Africa, and beyond. Practical and tangible partnership is critical,” he said.

“Rwanda’s experience is that, no matter how bad the situation appears, success is always an option. Let’s build on today’s debate, and challenge ourselves to work together to demand better results in international peacebuilding,” added Kagame.

Speaking at the meeting, UN Secretary‑General António Guterres also urged countries to include and involve all segments of the population in the process of rebuilding communities and sustaining peace.

President Paul Kagame has said that peace is much more than the absence of violence.
The meeting was held on Tuesday 12th October 2021.