15 MAY 2017


While it may be politically expedient to close the page and move on, it is morally important for an organisation like the U.N.to draw informed guidance from a crucial experience. A brief celebration this year of the Rwanda massacre, which had about 800,000 victims, was limited to a two-hour gathering, a usual statement and a photographed commemoration lighting candles.

Obviously, the U.N. Secretariat need not dwell forever on the embarrassing shortcomings of its Peacekeeping leadership in that particular tragedy. But it has to clearly draw lessons learned; and these lessons need to be applied particularly to avoid potentially similar sensitive drastic failures, like in obvious recent situations.

For example, it is common knowledge by now -- as indicated in the Pulitzer-winning book by former U.S. Ambassador, Samantha Power, when she was a journalist -- that certain members of the U.N. Secretariat who took the same attitude as Mrs. Albright of the U.S. and others, refused to take preventive measures as requested by the U.N. Commanding Officer on the ground to block the massacre.

Incidentally, the Secretariat official most poignantly mentioned in that case was Mr. Iqbal Riza, at the time in Peacekeeping as Mr. Kofi Annan's deputy, who sent a widely-noted message instructing the General on the ground "not to exceed his limits" when the General suggested arresting those planning the massacre.

While commemorative candles were waxed at the massacres anniversary, it was mentioned that Mr. Riza has been designated as advisor in the office of Secretary-General Guterres.