ICJ calls on the international community to fulfil its responsibility

The ICJ regrets yesterday’s resolution of the UN Security Council concerning the tragic situation in Rwanda.

The resolution seems to result in that only 275 members of the UN contingent will remain in Rwanda, out of the original number of 2,500. Furthermore, the ICJ is concerned that the mandate of the remaining UN contingent is inadequate given the present situation.

The ICJ declared today that the actual situation in Rwanda requires the immediate application of international law. The ICJ called on the international community to live up to its responsibility vis-a-vis the population of Rwanda.

Common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions has been gravely breached in Rwanda. This article absolutely prohibits “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture.” These violations require that the High Contracting Parties (which include the five permanent members of the UN Security Council) act in accordance with Common article 1 of the Geneva Conventions and ensure respect for the Conventions in all circumstances.

Under article 39 of the Charter of the United Nations, the Security Council has the responsibility, in case of threat or breach of peace, to maintain international peace and security.

The ICJ urges that the United Nations reinforce the mandate and presence of its contingent in Rwanda, in close collaboration with the OAU, and to reverse its decision to withdraw much of its contingent from the country. Mr. Adama Dieng, Secretary-General of the ICJ, stated that UN troops “must stand between the two ethnic communities who are ripping each other apart in Rwanda.”

The ICJ calls on both sides for an immediate cease-fire. Two weeks of fighting between the Armed Forces of Rwanda and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has caused tens of thousands of deaths. The ICJ demands that both sides to the conflict immediately accept the peace initiative of the President of Tanzania, Mr. Ali Hassan Mwinyi, who has organised for talks to take place Saturday, 23 April, in Arusha, Tanzania.

The ICJ notes the remarkable humanitarian work undertaken by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Red Cross of Rwanda, and urges that all parties respect the emblem of the Red Cross, which is the last rampart of humanity in this chaos.

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