Gasana Ndoba

Human rights violations as obstacle to development

Tuesday 02.03.2010

The lecture examined the context and consequences of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994 on the development of the country. It showed how the combination of dictatorship exercised by a restricted national elite called akazu (literally “the small house”) – helped by a complacent international community – with a three-decade ideology of ethnic hatred led the country to the destruction of more than one million human lives, representing approximately 13% of the whole population of Rwanda at that time.

The genocide committed in Rwanda exemplifies not only how gross violations of human rights hamper development, but also how, when they reach an extreme level of violence, they may even bring the destruction of almost the entire social fabric and the abolition of any kind of morality and any sense of hope, a situation beyond which there is no possible survival for any human community, not to speak of development.

Conversely, the lecture shows the link between the successful reconstruction of the Rwandan society after 1994 and the first steps of development, characterized in recent years, not only by increased investment, but also by the establishment of a national system of checks and balances and the global improvement of governance. It also sheds light on the outstanding challenges ahead and the hopefully the improved role that the international community, including the European Union Eastern New Member States, can play to help Rwanda consolidate and qualitatively elevate its development.

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Gasana Ndoba was the first president of the National Human Rights Commission of Rwanda, a public institution in charge of promotion, protection and monitoring of human rights nationwide (1999-2003). He is an international consultant on human rights and a visiting lecturer at the National University of Rwanda. Ndoba has played an active part in the promotion of human rights in Rwanda before and after the 1994 Genocide perpetrated against Tutsi, and in the establishment of mechanisms to commemorate the victims and to advocate for the prevention of the repetition of such cataclysms worldwide. In 2000, he was nominated to the Nobel Peace Prize, by the Gouvernement de la Communauté Française de Belgique as “a key actor for peace and reconciliation”.

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