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Rwanda honours former New Zealand diplomat

The former Ambassador of New Zealand to the United Nations, Amb. Colin Keating, was yesterday decorated with ‘Umurinzi’, Rwanda’s Campaign against Genocide Medal, by President Paul Kagame.  


 He was supposed to have been among those who were honoured by President Kagame during this year’s Liberation Day on July 4, but was absent.


Keating served as New Zealand Ambassador to the UN from 1993–1996, and was Security Council president during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and relentlessly sought the intervention of the international community to end the carnage.

“You lent your voice to other lone and courageous voices that were indignant about the deafening silence of the then Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations. You were vocal in your disapproval of the French-led Operation Turquoise. ,” reads the citation that accompanied the medal

In his address to the press after receiving his medal, Keating praised President Kagame’s government for the tremendous progress registered in the areas of peace and security and economic development.

“I am deeply honoured by the award that has been conferred on me by President Paul Kagame. It is a special honour. But for me, it has been a special day because I have been a friend of Rwanda during the dark days in 1994,” he said.

“I have come to Kigali today to see what has been achieved in terms of economic development and security. I can see the hard work that all Rwandans have done to turn this country around on a very positive way.”

He pointed out that the honour he had received reflects what he did during the times of crisis, adding that it’s a great moment for him being in Rwanda and seeing Rwandans enjoying the benefits of peace.

“During 1994, I was the president of the United Nation Security Council, and as you know the United Nations Security Council failed ...  but some of us were able to speak out and oppose the French operation Turquoise, to advocate strongly for the UN to play a significant role in the protection of civilians who were being subjected to the Genocide. To me, that was a duty, not just for Rwandans, but something that should be done in all cases,” said Keating.

Despite being a top official in the UN,  Amb. Keating criticised, in strong words, the recently released UN Mapping report on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that accused the Rwandan army of committing atrocities in DRC.

“I think there are really serious problems with the methodology of producing such reports. In my view, such reports should always be— first of all — presented in draft to the affected parties so that there is an opportunity for examination,” he said.

“Good and due process needs to be applied, and in this case, it was not, and I think there are important lessons to be learnt about the way of operation. In this case, there is recognition now in New York that there are problems in this report and the way it was produced and I think it is a tarnished report.”

He added: “I can’t speak for the UN but what I think; there is clearly a wrong methodology with this report and it is now just sitting on the shelves rather than being an active document.”

Keating also led the Security Council Mission to Somalia and chaired the Security Council Committee on Sanctions against Iraq.

Apart from his work with the UN, Ambassador Keating is also a Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University


By His Excellency Paul Kagame,

President of the Republic of Rwanda

for the conferral of

Rwanda’s Campaign against Genocide Medal

Ambassador Colin Keating.

Kigali, 4 July 2010

Ambassador Colin Keating – Experienced Diplomat, Dedicated Humanitarian, Dutiful Citizen of the World:

In you, the New Zealand nation has found an exemplary envoy. With an unparalleled sense of duty, you served your country as Legal Adviser of the Foreign Ministry and as Deputy Secretary of the Ministry.

The Genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda coincided with the peak of your diplomatic career. As your country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations between 1993 and 1996, you served on the Security Council in 1993 and 1994; presiding over this Council during the genocide in 1994.

During this moment of crisis, you availed yourself and members of your mission to representatives of the Rwandese Patriotic Front and listened to their version of the situation, in the interest of gathering information from diverse sources of objective accounts of what was really unfolding in Rwanda.

You lent your voice to other lone and courageous voices that were indignant about the deafening silence of the then Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations. You were vocal in your disapproval of the French-led Operation Turquoise.

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