The end of “Zurückhaltung”?

Has German foreign policy reached a turning point? Is the country finally ready to leave behind its “culture of restraint”? It certainly seems to be the case. At the Munich Conference last week Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck pronounced an eloquent speech about Germany’s responsibility. Not responsibility for past wrongs but responsibility to stop standing on the sidelines on world issues. For Gauck it is time to move past the “genocide-guilt” and adopt a more robust foreign policy.

This is likely to please Berlin’s partners. European neighbors and the US have been critical of Germany’s poor record in global security and crisis management. Some even claim that Berlin uses the “Nazi past” argument as an excuse not to get involved militarily. It certainly shaped Germany’s decisions on foreign deployments. But as an economic powerhouse in a polyphone Europe, Germany is now expected to do a lot more. Military engagement under Merkel is low and Germany seemed to have no security and foreign policy strategy. While German troops are stationed in Afghanistan and the Balkans, Berlin did not vote on the intervention in Libya and barely contributes to the mission in Mali, leaving crisis-ridden France do the dirty work.

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Most of Berlin’s political class now seems to acknowledge that Germany’s return among the concert of powers must be complemented with more international engagement. Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen told Der Spiegel that given Germany’s capacity and resources, it has the responsibility and obligation to be a bigger player in global crises. “Indifference is not an option,” she said, and announced that Germany plans to send more soldiers to Mali and to the up-coming EU mission in the Central African Republic.

Similarly, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier emphasized that while economic interests and foreign trade are important, it is in the national and moral interest of Germany to engage in other spheres too, especially in security and defense. Like Gauck, he mentioned the principle of the “Responsibility to Protect”, a term that many governments and politicians are reluctant to utter.

Nonetheless, this new rhetoric will not lead to a full revolution in German engagement abroad. Gauck, Steinmeier and von der Leyen made it clear that Germany would never act alone. Responsibility is not simply responsibility to act but also responsibility to abstain, they say. Berlin will continue to rely on multilateralism and partnerships, share military capacities and expertise with its partners, in particular the European Union and NATO. Germany is not ready to be a foreign policy leader yet.

More importantly: what do Germans think? For historic reasons, the question of German military engagement is an old national debate and it is not going away soon. While the political class may more or less agree with Gauck, the German public is a lot more reluctant to see their country commit militarily. Indeed, a new poll suggests that while most of them want Germany to be more engaged internationally, 75% are against military deployments and argue that they are is already doing enough. Skepticism and self-doubt (and fear) remain widespread. Yet, key to mobilizing international support is mobilizing domestic support. Knowing this, would politicians have the courage to move beyond their self-interest and short-term political calculations when the decision must be taken to intervene? Will Gauck’s eloquent rhetoric be translated into action?

Fortunately, Gauck seems to be aware of this. He suggested that municipal and state levels of government, churches, union and parties initiate discussions with civil society in order to define what Germans want – or persuade them that, in a globalized world, it is in their national and moral interests to occasionally contribute to foreign deployments. This is smart. Foreign policy discussions should not be left to the political elite but discussed among Germans. Ultimately, Germans must define their foreign policy values and interests, whether or not they have the courage and will to assume more responsibilities.

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Marking the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide – The “Genocide Fax”

As part of my work at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, I recently put together a summary of a discussion organized at the UN at the beginning of the month. I thought I’d share some if it.

2014 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide. Twenty years ago, on January 11, 1994, United Nations military commander LGen The Honourable (Ret’d) Roméo Dallaire sent a fax to UN Headquarters in New York, warning his superiors of a plan to exterminate Tutsis. But U.N. member states, led by the five permanent members of the Security Council, refused to listen and watched as over the course of hundred days more than 500,000 Tutsis were deliberately massacred. As Roméo Dallaire recalled in a press conference last Tuesday “The international community did its best to ignore Rwanda. It wasn’t on their radar, it was of no self-interest, it had no strategic value.”

To commemorate the anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the United Nations and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect organized “Genocide: A Preventable Crime,” a panel discussion continuing the global conversations advancing understanding of early warning of mass atrocities. The event featured a keynote address by MIGS’ Distinguished Senior Fellow, LGen The Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire (Ret’d) as well as presentations by Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General; H.E. Mrs. Mathilde Mukantabana, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the U.S;, Eugenie Mukeshimana, a Rwandan genocide survivor; and Dr. Stephen Smith , Executive Director of the Shoah Foundation.

Where are we now? Twenty years after the Rwanda genocide, have we made any progress? The 2005 “responsibility to protect” report and the principles it elaborated have given us the tools  to intervene with UN support. But, as Ambassador Mukantabana asked, “As a global community, would we act differently today if the genocide fax was received? Would we take any action, not only to intervene, but to stop the genocide?” The answer, as Syria shows, is that despite progress, “we are still standing on the sidelines as lives are being lost.”

In an open letter to UN Member States, Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for R2P, writes that “the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide is an important opportunity to honor the victims”, an opportunity for states “to demonstrate their commitment to the prevention of mass atrocities and R2P (Responsibility to Protect).”

Indeed, the best way to commemorate the victims and survivors would be to show our will to do much better, to make more efforts to make the words “never again” a reality. Although progress has been made, right now it still remains a challenge.  

The video of the event is available Genocide: A Preventable Crime — Understanding Early Warning of Mass Atrocities

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Update and interesting reads

I great lack of update on my part. I have been writing but in French! I’ll post a new piece soon

In the meantime, here are some interested links

Responsibility to Protect:

“Into the Eleventh Hour: R2P, Syria and Humanitarianism

Here is a series of article on R2P and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria.It brings together some of the most important voices on R2P and humanitarian intervention to examine the doctrine’s validity in the context of Syria’s civil war and humanitarian emergency. Does the Responsibility to Protect have a future?

Also on the same subject “The Responsibility to Protect and the Use of Force in Syria” written by Eamon Aloyo from The Hague Institute

Finally, in “R2P4: The Unsung Fourth Element of Humanitarian Intervention” Mark Lagon calls for a fourth pillar for R2P: ”

“So actually, rather than too much focus on Pillar 3 in place of Pillar 2, what is truly being neglected is an as yet unmentioned “Pillar 4.” If R2P is such a solemn norm, to save the livelihoods of targets of atrocities, then Pillar 4 would represent unilateral or, better, collective action when the Security Council’s approval is not forthcoming.”

The idea of Pillar4 is certainly controversial.

Syria

A lot is being written about Syria, torture committed in Syrian prisons, and Geneva II. But at the end of the day, this is what we have come to: “The politics of starvation: Syria’s civilians go hungry after months of sieges”. Eating rats, dogs, and cats to survive. All Syrians there want is peace and food.

Central African Republic

Civilians in CAR are facing extreme violence at the moment. The images are daunting and remind me the Rwandan genocide. Although the French have sent troops to help African troops, the task is enormous and more help is needed. The European Union will sent in peacekeepers as well but, as always, it is taking a long time. Only 10% of the humanitarian aid has been funded. The African Union, whose members have not shown the capacity to appease tensions, have also discussed establishing a Standby Force. But what is needed is a UN mission – something the new interim president of CAR has also requested. Why is action always so slow?

Human Rights Watch’s researcher Peter Bouckaert is doing an incredible job reporting on the situation and documenting crimes committed by both sides. You can follow him on Twitter or see his Twitter live feed for real time news. Also read his latest report “Riptide in the Central African Republic”. Also published in Foreign Policy, the article is fittingly titled on the main page as “The war nobody wants to see”.

I’m very much admirative of the work these humanitarians and activists are doing on the ground. They are simply reporting and documenting mass atrocity crimes, they also try to speak to those who want or have committed violence in attempt to appease them.

Aid Leap and Irinnews  offer overviews and analyses of the conflict

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Peter Bouckaert in CAR

Occasionally, you’ll read something more positive about the situation there and those who are trying to make a difference. This is the case of two men, one Muslim, one Christian, who are trying to appease their respective communities. Christiana Amanpour managed to interview them for CNN. They want to emphasize that the conflict in itself is not religious but that religion is being use to fuel violence. “In my childhood at the time of the Christmas holidays, we shared our toys with Muslim friends. At the time of Ramadan, we played. In the past we have never been enemies. We were brothers.”

South Sudan

There was hope when South Sudan acquired independence in 2011 but the upsurge of violence in December proves how difficult it is to build a new nation. The two conflicting parties are holding peace talks but are also accusing each other of trying to derail them. New satellite images by U.S.-based monitoring group, the Satellite Sentinel Project, suggest that at least 210 tukuls (houses) have been burned down in  Malaka, a town the rebels and soldiers are fighting over. Pillage is  widespread as well – the World Food Program’s warehouses have been completely looted, which hinders their efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to the 863,000 South Sudanese who have fled their homes.

Want to see a timeline of the conflict in South Sudan? Read it this one put together by the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

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Rwanda

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Commemorations have already started. People reflect on the inaction of the international community, on lessons learned, and on the effectiveness of reconciliation efforts in Rwanda.

– Foreign Policy Magazine “How Tradition Remade Rwanda. The secret ingredient in Rwanda’s efforts to rebuild its nation after the violence of genocide.”

– Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect: Open Letter to All UN Member States “The ‘Genocide Fax’ and the 20th Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994”

– Videos and reports from conference Genocide – A preventable crimes. Understanding early warning of mass atrocities
On 14 January, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect organized two event at the United Nations with Lt. Gen. The Hon. Roméo A. Dallaire and H.E. Eugène-Richard Gasana, Permanent Representative of Rwanda. The press conference marked the anniversary of Dallaire’s sending a fax warning of the impending threat of a genocide perpetrated by Hutu extremists against the Tutsi population of Rwanda. Policymakers then refused to listen.

On 15 January, Roméo Dallaire then delivered a keynote speech at the UN. Also present on the panel were  Dr. Simon Adams, H.E. Mathilde Mukantabana, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States,  Mr. Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General, Eugenie Mukeshimana, Executive Director of the Genocide Survivors Support Network, and Dr. Stephen Smith, Kwibuka and Executive Director of the Shoah Foundation.

An interesting point that also came out of the conference is Romeo Dallaire idea that the recruitment of child soldiers can be used a a warning sign of internal warfare. Militia men who want to build-up an army focus on children because they are easy to recruited or kidnapped, cheap, easily influenced or subdued. In short, children are used a weapons of war.

Myanmar/Burma

There has been more violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar. The government denies the allegations. The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention published a new article on the systematic violence and patterns of ethnic cleansing.

Some History: Heinrich Himmler

If you are interested in the Holocaust, German newspaper Die Welt is published recently discovered letters and diaries written by Heinrich Himmler, Chief of the German Police and the Reich’s Commissioner for the “Festigung des deutschen Volkstums” (Consolidation oft he German Race). The material offers a view of the man who is responsible for the death of millions of Jews. This article is in English but for German speakers Die Welt is also publishing the material on a daily basis. An incredible and daunting view of one of the man behind the Holocaust.

“Many people tell me, ‘never again,’ but still, again and again”: the case of Sudan and the Central African Republic

These words were uttered by a survivor in Darfur, a region where populations are still prey to human rights abuses committed by the Janjaweed militias backed by the government of Sudan. The genocide of 2003, which claimed the lives of 400,000 people, already constitutes a textbook case of the international community’s failure to intervene but the violence also continues to be largely overlooked. The UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) fails to fulfill its mandate but this is largely ignored by the Security Council. Not only do violence and human rights violations persist in Darfur, Abyei and South Kordofan but those displaced by conflicts also still lack food, water and shelter.

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On Wednesday, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) accused the UN Security Council of prolonging the conflict in Sudan by failing to arrest Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who is under an arrest warrant since 2009. Rightfully so, Fatou Bensouda criticized the Security Council for turning its back on Sudan, thereby allowing Al-Bashir and other alleged perpetrators of human rights violations to remain at large and commit more crimes. Since 2005, Al-Bashir has been allowed to travel to several countries without being arrested. Bensouda sees the inaction of the Security Council on Sudan as “a serious indictment on this council” and as an “insult to the plight of Darfur’s victims.”

U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud, the current Security Council president, argued that the “the council is blocked, by some countries.” Particularly under the radar is China, which continues to block any council action. China has repeatedly said that pressing war crimes charges against the Sudanese president would have disastrous effects in Sudan and invited Al-Bashir to China in 2011. China has also long been Sudan’s biggest arms supplier (25% in 2010) and has major economic investments and interests in the country. China purchases more than half of Sudanese oil output!

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Further south west on the African continent is the Central African Republic, another country where the UN’s inaction attracted biting criticism this week.

Looking at the gravity of the conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR), it is clear that most of the world remains indifferent to the plight of CAR’s population. In the past week alone, sectarian violence has killed 600 people and since the beginning of the crisis, tens of thousands of people have had to flee their homes, according to Unicef. Not only has the UN Security Council failed to take preventive actions against foreseeable violence, but the UN humanitarian aid system has failed as well. On Friday, international humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) addressed an open letter to the UN Under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs denouncing “the unacceptable performance of the United Nations humanitarian system” in CAR.  This scathing critique is largely justified. Since July NGOs such as MSF have repeatedly urged the UN to provide adequate humanitarian action and resources but food, water, shelter and hygiene technologies still fail to meet minimum standards.

The failure of the UN system to fulfill its responsibilities towards civilians appears even graver in the case of CAR. Although challenging, humanitarian assistance is supposed to be impartial and neutral. Thus, the general expectation is that humanitarian agencies will deliver aid solely based on the needs of populations, whatever the circumstances. With few exceptions, this has not been the case of UN agencies in CAR. If MSF and other NGOs have been able to deliver, why not UN agencies?

The UN Security Council’s inaction in Sudan and Syria already discredited and delegitimized the international community. Now humanitarian inaction of the UN is having the same result.

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Bearing witness in the Central African Republic

If we needed another example of the power of the social media during protests and conflicts, the current conflict in the Central African Republic is yet another proof. Violence was particularly dramatic over the weekend, leading to the death of at 400 people.

We have seen social media being used during the Arab Spring and other anti-government protests around the world. This time, reporters and humanitarians working on the ground used Twitter to inform the world about on-going human rights violations, the impact on civilians and the arrival of the French troops to Bangui and Bossangoa. Among them are Alex Thompson and Stuart Web (Channel 4), Laura Jepson (IMC), Peter Bouckaert (Human Rights Watch), Tristan Redman (Al Jazeera English), Marcus Bleasdale (National Geographic Photographer), Mark Kaye and Justin Forsyth (Save the Children). They took pictures of Bangui airport filled with fleeing civilians, recorded videos of abuses, and reported live from discussions with Seleka. Here are a few examples:

Peter Bouckaert: @bouckap: At #Seleka base we found a Peuhl boy no older than 14 among soldiers, told us whole family had been murdered by anti-balaka, no place 2 go.

@bouckap Just finished briefing French captain in #Bossangoa on our research and recommendations for action. Very attentive and proactive audience.

Alex Thompson: @alextomo: #c4news #CARcrisis. Man with wheelbarrow with coffins of 2 brothers beaten to death by Seleka militia says F soldiers not in hotspots

@alextomo: #c4news #CARcrisis Quartier Combatants, Bangui – gangs with daggers and machetes looking for Muslims to kill. Finding them.

Marcus Bleasdale: @marcusbleasdale We met a 14 year old boy in the #Seleka military camp today. All his family was killed so he wants to be a soldier. Wrong.  #CARcrisis @hrw

Stuart Webb : ‪@Worldwidewebb1 #CARcrisis an all to common sight on the streets of Bangui this week-no doubt they’ll be more tomorrow…

 

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Justin Forsyth: ‪@justinforsyth Hard to tell how many people sheltering in grounds of Catholic mission – over 7000 #CAR

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Without these testimonies, how much would we really known? This is exactly what we mean by the “power of witness.”

In 2009, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said about the power of social media: “You cannot have Rwanda again because information would come out far more quickly about what is actually going on and the public opinion would grow to the point where action would need to be taken.”

While the international community continues to tip toe and hesitate on when, how, if they should intervene, journalists and humanitarian workers on the ground can, with a cellphone only, put pressure on world leaders by bearing witness. As pictures are taken and real-time events reported, perpetrators can be held accountable for their crimes and bystanders for their inaction. They can’t say they didn’t know?

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Image by Marcus Bleasdale

Lessons learned from Nelson Mandela

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As eulogies about Nelson Mandela abound, one thing  they all seem to have in common is the need to remember the great man’s ideals and to learn lessons. But as antagonisms, conflicts and violence continue in several regions of the world, some of these tributes appear meaningless and hypocritical when uttered by individuals who fail to uphold Mandela’s principles in their own country. There are many lessons we should learn from Madiba, I have only selected a few.

 Perseverance

`I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” – Defence statement during the Rivonia Trial, 1964

Perseverance. This one of the lessons we must learn from Mandela. You do what you can do must but do it. At the beginning of his life, he had more losses than victories. He was an ambitious man who was born in system that confined black South Africans to certain roles and areas. On multiple occasions he could have given up to fate and despair. But trapped between four prison walls, dispossessed of almost everything he owned except his freedom to think, he refused to give up on his ideal. He succeeded thanks to his sense of conviction and ambition.

There is only one world: local is global

Although Mandela fought against an apartheid regime specific to South Africa, his movement and ideas are transnational in nature. Fought by local actors against a local system of racism, his struggle was nonetheless about the universalization of basic rights and the recognition that all human being deserve to be treated as equals. Mandela’s fight for freedom, peace and democracy went well beyond South Africa’s borders and could be applied to Canada’s relationship with its Native communities which remains thorny to this day. Because of its timeless and borderless nature, Mandela’s struggle continues to resonate today.

One’s freedom is dependent on the freedom of the other

A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.” – The Long Walk to Freedom, 1994

Mandela’s political philosophy and view of humanity is something that should be pondered on as wars, hatred and hostility continue to divide people and peoples. Humanity and freedom are rights that every human being should enjoy and that the other has the duty to respect. For Mandela, the apartheid system did not only deprive black South Africans of their humanity, but the oppressor himself, blinded by hatred, was dispossessed of his humanity. But nobody was born hating the other, he said. We are all dependent on one another and as long as walls exists between peoples, cultures, religions and societies, we will not thrive. As Mandela stated “Great anger and violence can never build a nation.” He therefore worked with his oppressors and made them allies in order to avoid more tragedy in South Africa. As the Israeli and Palestinian press eulogizes Mandela, perhaps their people and leaders would do best to remember him by reaching out to each other.

Leadership and responsibility

“I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people.” On release from prison, February 11, 1990

Mandela’s death occurred on the eve of the “Africa-France Summit” where nearly 40 African leaders gathered to discuss peace and security. As French President François Hollande said in his introductory speech is symbolic and “it also means that we have to face up to our responsibilities.” Overshadowed by the violence and French intervention in the Central African Republic, the summit suddenly acquired a new message.

With dictatorships and despotic, demagogic leaders still going strong in several parts of the world, Mandela’s idea of responsible leadership is something that many head of states should reflect on. A true leader is someone who understands that he has a responsibility work for and protect his people. In his eulogy of Mandela, former Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney writes: “As we watch communities in Africa and the Middle East struggle to free themselves from decades of despotic leadership, let us hope that their next generation’s leaders are moved by the passion, the dignity and the grace of Nelson Mandela (…).”

African leaders now praising Mandela’s life should perhaps take a look at their own path and the legacy they want to leave behind. South African President Zuma called on his people “to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa” but he should focus on the state of the ANC party leadership first. In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe may have freed his people from an oppressive white minority but he has become a brutal leader unable to give up power. Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, once a freedom fighter like Mandela, has been in power for 27 years. They failed as liberation heroes.

As world leaders, state representatives and people from across the globe gather in South Africa, they should not simply remember Mandela’s legacy and ideals. They should also implement them. Or else they will remain just that: ideals.

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Central African Republic and the French Intervention – No longer a Bystander

 A year ago, when then President François Bozizé appealed to the US and “French cousins” to help repel Seleka’s advances on Bangui both countries refused. Angry crowds attacked the French embassy and criticized France’s passivity, especially since the former colonial power has a military presence in the former colony since 2003. When French President François Hollande visited Central African Republic (CAR) in late December he made it clear that he would not mingle in internal affairs, insisting that these days were over. Hollande knows the dangers of renewing its ties with its colonial past.

A year later, the CAR is on the brink of collapse. UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, warned that the country is at risk of genocide if nothing is done. Similarly, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that the country is “on the verge of genocide”.

After ousting Bosizé, Seleka leader Michel Djotodia proclaimed himself President. In September, he dissolved Seleka and only integrated some of them into the army, leaving the others unattended to. Since then the country has plunged into chaos as undisciplined rebels commit widespread looting and abuses against those they consider as Bosizé supporters. The deep climate of insecurity has led to the creation of anti-balaka forces (self-defense groups) who have taken up arms against ex-Seleka fighters. The most worrying aspect of the crisis is the rise of sectarian violence between religious communities. Indeed, the majority of the Central Africans is Christian while Séleka fighters are predominantly Muslim, many of them from Chad and Sudan.

So who is going to act now?

In view the gravity of the situation, France has decided to send an additional 800 soldiers to help the 3,600-strong African Union force restore order. France’s decision led an Algerian journalist to state that it signifies a return of “Françafrique” since this new operation comes only ten months after the French intervention in Mali. The debate over France’s reason for intervening is always raised.

Why is France intervening after standing by in March 2013? The main reason cited by Paris is a humanitarian one. The situation is deteriorating badly and grave human rights violations are being committed, including rape and massacres. The self-defense groups are just as bad as Séléka and 460,000 people have already fled. Djotodia is unable to restore order and appears completely lost. For Hollande intervening has now become a question of responsibility. Whether there are real risks of genocide or not, Rwanda still haunts the French political class.

Beyond humanitarian reasons, there are of course security concerns and geo-strategic interests. This is not another Mali where soldiers are dealing with organized jihadists who have taken over a territory. What we are seeing in CAR is a complex social conflagration with, on one side, 15.000 to 20.000 violent Seleka rebels and on the other anti-balaka groups ready to commit massacres against the Muslim population. Nonetheless, there are real concerns that if nothing in done, jihadists who fled Mali and Libya may find refuge in CAR. There are also risks of spillovers and contagion into the two Sudans, the Congo and Chad, none of which are really stable.

Will the belated intervention bring stability to CAR? 1,200 French soldiers are unlikely to restore long-term stability, especially in a country bigger than France. However they will at least support the ill-equipped MISCA in an attempt to restore order. The French also hope that the UN will send additional peacekeepers as quickly as possible. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recommended 6,000 to 9,000 men.

But what CAR needs is a political solution and France made it clear that it is the role of Central Africans to settle these problems. Since its independence, CAR has never established a strong political structure or arena. Djotodia is clearly unable to deal with the situation. Just a couple of days ago, he denied assertions that the country is at risk of genocide and accused the international community of manipulating public opinion. “For me, there is nothing to show that we can even talk of what is going on as genocide. This is simply vengeance. A regime committed abuses, it is now gone. Its victims are taking revenge, that is all.” “That is all”? Graver still he criticized displaced Christians in the north: “He who wants to drown his dog, accuses it of having rabies, that’s all. Our situation is no less dramatic than that in other countries but it is portrayed as such. It is unfair.” The self-proclaimed President is either blind to the populations’ suffering or he is unwilling to prevent violence.

 As the International Crisis Group states, it’s “better late than never.” The current situation could have been prevented if regional and international organizations had acted early instead of being bystanders. Nobody moved a finger when Seleka staged a coup but the consequences should have been anticipated. The political situation will clearly not be settled through a military intervention but at least some seem to move beyond the bystander role.