A seven-person delegation from the West Point military academy in the United States visited the UN office in Kigali, Rwanda on 11 June for a briefing on the reconciliation process in Rwandan society after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi ethnic minority, and the role of women in supporting sustainable peace.
The West Point delegation was led by retired Lt. Col. Professor Diane Ryan. On behalf of the UN, it was received by the Resident Coordinator, Aurélien Agbénonci, and UNIFEM Programme Manager Donnah Kamashazi.
Resident Coordinator Agbénonci highlighted the link between sustainable development and peace. “Rwanda's impressive progress on the Millennium Development Goals has been facilitated by the secure and peaceful environment in which citizens can freely exercise and enjoy their rights, contributing to the social, economic and political development of the nation,” he said.
UNIFEM Programme Manager Kamashazi briefed the delegation on the important role women have played to transform Rwandan society, with support from UNIFEM and other actors, including through different initiatives aimed at bringing cohesion between genocide perpetrators and survivors.
Ms. Kamashazi further pointed to the mobilization of women to participate and articulate their views in the constitutional review process, which resulted in the development of a gender-responsive constitution that provides for a quota of at least 30 percent for women in all positions of decision-making. She demonstrated initiatives to promote women's engagement in democratic governance and peace processes, including successful outreach campaigns to ensure women's effective role in nation-building and recovery.
The West Point delegation was also briefed on the work of the UN in peace consolidation, for example through the Rwanda Peace Academy Programme - an initiative of the Ministry of Defense which is supported by the Japanese Government and managed through UNDP. Focusing on post-genocide recovery, peacebuilding and peace consolidation, it aims to share lessons learnt from Rwanda's unique experiences in peacebuilding by engaging in relevant research and policy studies, as well as in the exchange of expertise and knowledge within the region and on a global level.