Monday, December 10, 2012

Misleading UNDP Case Study Rwanda

Over the last couple of months we witnessed how UNDP has stepped in to defend the RPF regime in Rwanda against it's critics. To judge wether this activism on behalf of UNDP in favor of Rwanda's current regime is justified we can take a look at a background guide sent in by UNDP for the Vancouver Model United Nations 2013. It's 'case study Rwanda' illustrates UNDP's focus on Rwanda. The first phrase of this case study claims:
'To see the powerful effect of empowering women in post conflict situations, look no further than the East African nation of Rwanda'
The arguments provided to back up this claim are found in the following short passage:
'Taditionally, the government was made up of men, and women had a set child-bearing, housewife role. Today, however, women constitute 56% of the parliament, the highest percentage in the world. With this inflated proportion, female members of Parliament are finding it easier to pass legislation relating to gender issues. The UNDP has helped them implement initiatives, such as ways to train new female members of parliament on political processes. They also have the Forum of Rwanda Women Parliamentarians, which helps women run for political office. In 2005 they adopted a five-year Strategic Plan to include equal gender dimensions into policies, laws, programs, and practices. This new policy, together with provisions in the constitution establishing formal structures — such as the National Council of Women — provide means through which women may have a greater say in the formulation of policies that affect their lives.'
Election rigging in Rwanda has been well-documentend. Paul Kagame summarized this effort the day vice-president of Rwandan Greens, André Kagwa Rwisereka, was burried:
 "My job has not been to create an opposition, my job is to create the environment where legitimate things can happen."
Dutch ambassador Frans Makken justified his support for ruthless revolutionaries, disciples of Mao & Che Guevara, in a short interview leading up to the 2010 Presidential elections which he presided as vice-chairman of the Rwandan National Electoral Commission:
"In a country in conflict, you see that socio-economic rights are given more importance than civil and political rights. Why? Because the important thing is that people have something to eat and to drink and are able to offer their children a future. You do not want to endanger that by giving broad democratic rights, that also offer space for militant organizations, including the Hutu rebels responsible for the genocide, who are still active in Congo and in the diaspora in Europe."
So why doesn't UNDP provide socio-economic evidence of the 'powerful effect of empowering women in post conflict situations'. That would be more convincing. A parliament filled with 56% women of a country that isn't interested in democracy is evidence not of empowerment but of a deliberate attempt to mislead a liberal western audience. Even those who agree with Frans Makken that 'civil and political rights should be given less importance in Rwanda' must see the weakness of using a toothless parliament as example of women empowerment.

Efforts to mislead a western audience is a consistent trait of the Rwandan RPF regime's 'ideology'. A good recent example is Anglican bishop John Rucyahana who preaches reconciliation when visiting Christians in the United States while at the same time organising and bankrolling a rebellion in eastern Congo.


Mel said...

I guess I take some issue with this one, Vincent.

While one can make an argument about Rwanda's commmitment to liberal democracy, what matters is its commitment to the rule of law.

On this measure, the presence of so many women in bodies that make, execute, and uphold the law in Rwanda- as the UNDP does by quoting the national legislatures figures- is dazzling.

As I've mentioned in posts here in the past, Rwanda is devotee of the Beijing/Singapore Consensus- ie, let our people get rich, then we'll give them rights. They key to ensuring stability, however, is ensuring laws are made known and strictly obeyed.

Next to its peers on the African continent, Rwanda excels as this.

The fact that so many women are in the driver's seat to create law is not only admirable but, in the history of human civilization, unparallelled.

UNDP is simply acknowledging this fact.

Now, you raise an (implicit) point about the material effect on the lives of all Rwandans given the increasing presence of women in power in its bureaucracy. That would take a study that neither you nor the UNDP probably has the time or resources to commence. It would be worthy to do, however, and hopefully we get something like a study sometime soon.


Vincent Harris said...


Thanks for taking note of this short blogpost. Let me adress shortly a few of your points.

I disagree when you separate 'Rwanda's commmitment to liberal democracy' from 'its commitment to the rule of law'.

A prerogative for 'rule of law' is precisely that a government obeys laws which are made by lawmakers that have been chosen in a democratic process.

Martin Luther King once said in a Christmas sermon: "if we are to have peace in the world, men and nations must embrace the nonviolent affirmation that ends and means must cohere.".

The road through which we arrive at a certain destination ('empowering women' in this case)is important.

Years ago the UN published their standards and steps to a rights-based approach to development. Therefore I would expect a more holistic approach.

Maybe UNDP does adhere to a more holistic approach of Rwanda's development (which supports endogene dynamics of Rwanda's civil society), I just don't find it in this short background paper.