His Excellency Mr Paul Kagame
President of Rwanda
“Our vision of Rwanda is of a country open to the opportunities of the world. We are fortunate to be in the unique position of being a member of the African Union, the East African Community, the Francophonie and now the Commonwealth. It is my hope that the Commonwealth will open up new opportunities to support our development, especially in the areas of English language, legal reform and skills development, as well create new networks for trade and investment. I also hope that, as we have done with other international organisations we participate in, we can contribute to the Commonwealth as much as we benefit from it.
The challenges for the Commonwealth are the challenges that its membership faces: poverty, economic and political underdevelopment, environmental degradation. The key for all of us, Rwanda included, will be to bring the collective strength and experience of the Commonwealth family to bear on these challenges. Just as Rwanda can learn from other nations in many areas, we will be able to share the positive lessons from some of our experiences. For example, I hope that while we receive support in strengthening our legal processes, we will be able to offer, in return, our own lessons learned in tackling corruption or peace building.
Before even climate change was introduced into the equation, Africa was already facing massive environmental challenges: deforestation, loss of biodiversity, desertification and so on. But climate change, combined with poverty, population growth and weak or non-existent environmental regulations, has the potential not only to undermine our development objectives but to reverse some gains of the past several years – when stability and peace have meant significant growth and development dividends in Africa.
But we need to go beyond simply stating that climate change is a threat and take corrective measures. This is where the Commonwealth forum can help. Among the 53 members are many of those nations whose economies are most at risk from climate change as well as some of those whose economies are most responsible for climate change – these countries need to work together to develop solutions that address both perspectives.
The values of the Commonwealth and Rwanda are in unison. We take human rights, good governance and democracy seriously, not only because we know it is the right thing to do but because we know from our tragic past the consequences of ignoring them – something that will not be repeated.”
Source: ‘Interview: Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda‘, Global: the international briefing, Issue 2