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Assistance, Bi-lateral Cooperation and Humanitarian Interventions

By Rutagengwa Claude Shema

General Coordinator

Great Lakes Peace Initiative (GLPI)


Bio Other articles in this series...

Transcend Africa Network: Report on Refugees


War and The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the Great- Lakes region of Africa 


International Migration and Development Revisited


Ghettoization or Globalization Of African Literature


Great Lakes Region of Africa - Burundi


Sudanese Internal Displaced People


Rwanda: Conflict, Genocide and Post Genocide


Child Rights Associations/Youth Movements in Rwanda


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Rais Neza Boneza  2006


Bi-lateral cooperation and assistance or any other kind of interventions nowadays seem to be a political matter and an individual business. Instead, such activities should respond effectively and fruitfully to the need of people.

 Another fact in this matter is that most of rich and powerful countries often play a “give and gain” principle. Indirectly or directly, aid and assistance given to those weak states or destroyed nations generate interest back to the donors.  And of course it depends on the level of cooperation between donors’ countries and the needy state, and sometimes and often, depends on individual relationships/friendships between nations’ head leaders, especially when those leaders have some common and shared interest.  For example, the period of President Habyarimana’s regime of Rwanda has been characterized by strong relationships between Habyarimana and Mitterrand of France, and the bi-lateral cooperation between Rwanda and France was remarkable as well.

 During that period, France became the first donor, especially during the invasion of RPF rebels in 1990s, before USA, Germany, Belgium (former colonial master of Rwanda) and the UK.

 If we analyse this sort of cooperation, we find that it has a huge double influence on the country, and often leads to destruction instead of rebuilding a nation and sustaining development, because the influence tendency goes beyond borders, and common public resources become individual cases.

 Then individual friendships between heads of states takes root and becomes disguised under bi-lateral cooperation, instead of creating suitable and sustainable cooperation between people of those two different nations.

The impact of that kind of cooperation is enormous:

a) Positive. Except a pessimist, none can deny any positive impact on that kind of assistance under bilateral cooperation, like improvement in terms of health, education, strong friendship between French people and Rwandese people, the voice of Rwanda through France within UN system raised up, environmental matters somehow, social and culture, etc...

b) But most dangerous, which becomes explosive sooner or later, is that the more bilateral cooperation becomes individualized, the more people of two nations suffer from the outcomes and become victims. Then that so called bi-lateral cooperation undermines and becomes a poisoned gift instead of generating fruits to both sides. If we take the case of the cooperation between Rwanda and France in the past (Cooperation Franco-Rwandese), and learn from this experience, we find that Franco-Rwandese cooperation led to different interesting results as positive impacts, as we mentioned in the previous page. That is wonderful!

But later on, the cooperation changed skin, and became Mitterando-Habyarimana cooperation.

Public property becomes individualized and private property, under Franco-Rwandese flag - always. And remember, the source of those donations and assistance was from French people's taxes and revenues. And the impact of Mitterando-Habyarimana friendship under Franco-Rwandese cooperation flag fueled the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Killing and all kind of serious human rights violations took place. All of the infrastructures built by that cooperation were destroyed. Rwandese people suffered from the direct impact of destruction, on one side, while some French leaders accused of fueling genocide might face justice, and relations between two nations were seriously broken, while relationships between Rwandese and French people seem to be weak. Franco-Rwandese  Cooperation is under reconstruction despite the absence of its former chairmen (Mitterrand and Habyarimana), who passed away.

Intervention in the aftermath period, under humanitarian aid and assistance flags, nowadays, becomes a real deal, private business sometimes, and seems to be related to the interest orientation of donors, and has links to the relationship between different parties. A recent example is the dispute between new democratically elected Hamas leaders in Palestine, where all support and assistance has fallen and broken because the  Hamas political party was not friendly with donors like the USA and allies.

Donors have no right to stop assistance to Palestine people who are suffering from poverty, poor conditions of health, and other related obstacles to development. The campaign around this issue tries to sensitise and mobilise a huge number of donor countries to stop their contribution to Palestine. But donors consciously do not want to recognise a new regime of Palestine authority, despite the fact that those leaders have been elected in a democratic way, in harmony and peaceful atmosphere by Palestinians themselves. This is an anti democratic reaction and underestimation vis -a- vis to the people of Palestine.

One of reason given by those donors is that Hamas leaders were considered as terrorists.

Of course, they have been behaving as terrorists if we say so, but on the other hand, they were fighting for their rights. As long as the Hamas leaders are elected by Palestinian people, that means that we as the international community, without exception, should admit the rights and respect the choice of the people of Palestine. And the peaceful way to solve problems would be simply dialogue with them and recognise them as leaders, and help them towards a positive transformation process from terror to good governance, instead of considering them as terrorists, because none was born as a terrorist. Campaigning against democratically new elected leaders for Palestine authority shows negligence, and underestimation of the people of Palestine. And this can increase hatred and lead to new terrorist actions. But dialoguing and cooperate with them is the only best way towards sustainable peace and durable development.

Another challenge in this matter is the alliance between donors and the UN system, where powerful countries like USA, UK, France and their allies are able to drive the UN where they want as their own track. Interventions and assistance to the needy countries now must be decided and approved by those unmentioned countries, and also all conditions needed must be filed before they give the green light to a final decision regarding intervention. This is the reason why sometimes or often assistance and interventions are reported to be delayed and even refused.  

If we try to illustrate this scenario, we refer to the pre-conditions of those interventions and assistance, and find that many things have to taken into consideration.

Among others: -democratic system

                         -good governance

                         -management capacity, and other related conditions.

This is clear to everybody.

But there is also a hidden pre-condition related to eligibility which is interest-orientated. This is a long plan from donors, which includes: 

            -determined amount to donate and time frame

            -implementation/inspection agency from donor

            -Human resources and technical team (experts) etc...

Surprisingly, the experts from donors’ countries working for in implementation phase of any assistance program are extremely, highly well paid. While local experts get the so-called “no death-no-life” payment. This is another way to get their grants back.

There is also another complaint regarding the time to intervene in a needy area. Most interventions normally delays in area where donors have no interest, like in Rwanda in the 1994 genocide, Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur, Sudan, Ethiopia, etc... How can you prove and for what reason the USA intervened in Kuwait in 90s, to pick out Saddam Hussein, and not in DRC, which was invaded by more than 3 different nations? Why did the  UN and its allies like USA, UK, France and allies not want to intervene in Somali where women are raped and mutilated and suffer from all kind of animosity day and night? Somali is a non-state country, an absent government because the central government has been erased and wiped out from the map of the world. It is like a nation that never existed.

No president, no prime minister, nothing really exists in that horn of Africa, and violence took place. Instead of focusing efforts to help Somali people solve that problem, powerful and rich countries decided to close their eyes to Somali matters, and focus on invading Iraq and Afghanistan instead. Why does nobody care for the Somali people? Why do we close our eyes and lock up our ears from screaming of children’s tears from Somalia being killed, raped, forced to involve in civil wars, and why do we react when some countries like Israel have problems, and why do we intervene quickly and respond immediately when a European country has troubles?

The simple answer is “No gain, no deal”. O(n the other hand, so called powerful and rich countries play a major role in fueling the war in Somalia and elsewhere in the world. Does Somali have a weapon firm? The answer is “no”.

Then where did Somali people get those Kalashnikovs and heavy weapons? Who is behind weapon supply in this horn of Africa? The same question to the Great lakes region of Africa, the same in Democratic Republic of Congo.

But this is unfair, and if there is no change, humanity is still in danger.