International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

How Much is £21 Million Worth?

Amidst delays in M23’s scheduled exit from Goma, and M23’s denial of being backed by the Rwandan government Britain–the largest bilateral donor to Rwanda–has decided to withhold £21 million in aid payments.  President Kagame and Rwanda’s economic and social recovery from the genocide has been widely praised by the international community as a remarkable role model for development.  This recovery has been heavily backed by donor funds, such that Rwanda has been termed by some a “donor darling.”  

Under these conditions, the international community has largely ignored President Kagame’s more authoritarian practices, such as repression, imprisonment, intimidation and murder—justified by Kagame as necessary for Rwandan unity and to prevent a return to ethnic divisionism. It is evidently harder for the international community to ignore the relationship of Rwanda with the abuses of the M23, led by ICC indicted Bosco Ntaganda.  Akhavan argues that stigmatization can alter the cost-benefit analysis of continued conflict (Sudan stopped backing the LRA after ICC arrest warrants).  The rosy view of Rwanda has been marred by its involvement with M23 and Britain is justly putting the pressure on Rwanda to decide whether it is worth £21 million to continue backing M23.  The cost-benefit analysis has been altered for the Rwandan government and if they decide the price is too high, M23 may do so as well. 


3 responses to “How Much is £21 Million Worth?

  1. branwall1 December 1, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    I’m hopeful that the £21 million will be enough to change Kagame’s mind. While I am not intimately familiar with the economy of Rwanda, I suspect that their cost-benefit analysis is heavily dependent on the fact that they have been successful in the past at appealing to donations, even if their practices are less than ideal: as dlawrence27 said, “the international community has largely ignored President Kagame’s more authoritarian practices, such as repression, imprisonment, intimidation and murder.” Assuming this is true, they may not be dissuaded by the loss of aid funds. However, Rwanda should be concerned about the implications for future donations, which they may have difficulty securing if they are seen as meddling in the affairs of other countries in turmoil. Regardless, it looks as though M23 is stirring up as much chaos as possible, and as The New York Times reports, they will likely withdraw from the Congo in a matter of days.

  2. j.a. December 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    The recent decision by Britain to withhold £21 million in aid for Rwanda is long overdue, and I am hopeful that this move will be sufficient to tip Rwanda’s cost-benefit analysis towards severing ties with M23. It is essential that in situations like these, the international community take concrete steps. Stigmatization and threats may sometimes be enough to alter a country’s behavior, but it is clear that Rwanda has not been dissuaded. Not only has Rwandan support for the M23 continued, but reports from Goma also indicate that Rwandan soldiers played an active role in capturing the city from Congolese forces. Reports that M23 rebels have infiltrated the Goma police force refer to officers in brand new uniforms speaking the principal Rwandan language (NYTimes).

    The United States announced in July that it would cut military aid to Rwanda, however this was a mere $200,000 destined for a Rwandan military academy. The United States should go much farther than this largely symbolic gesture. Additionally, it is (of course) unconscionable that Rwanda received a seat on the Security Council when its support for M23 was widely known. Even Britain, after initially suspending £16 million of aid, made the payment anyway despite allegations that Rwanda was supporting M23 (BBC).

    Therefore, while this latest action taken by Britain is encouraging, the international community is largely unwilling to take any significant actions to ensure international peace, even when these actions are well within its power and would send a strong message to states engaging in similar behavior.

    This has implications for the debate surrounding the ICC and its deterrence factor. One proposal for boosting the capacity of the ICC to deter future crimes is linking the Court more closely to the Security Council; for instance, relying more on SC referrals. This would, in essence, give the Court teeth—the Court, by way of an SC-authorized peacekeeping force, would effectively have troops at its disposal to carry out arrest warrants. This strategy would have serious implications for the perceived legitimacy of the Court as an apolitical institution. In any case, I do not believe that this strategy is even feasible. As seen with Rwanda, the international community is extremely reluctant to take bold steps. The Darfur case (the SC referred the situation in Sudan to the ICC, but then balked at any further actions that might aid the Court’s effort) is also a strong indication that the ICC cannot rely on the SC to boost its deterrence factor.

  3. mrivera11 December 4, 2012 at 11:35 am

    While the dailymail tends to present many “tabloid” oriented stories, I found that this reaction towards the withholding of the 21 million pounds presented an interesting point with regards to the persona of Kagame and the perceptions that government officials have of him. The article delineates how multiple high officials have managed to become “friends” with Kagame. Moreover, we may recall a film shown in class in which Rwanda is presented as a model country that has achieved stability and Kagame as the figure that has achieved said stability throughout the relationships that he has managed to establish throughout the world. The article mentions how the previous International Development Secretary had previous withheld aid, but prior to his departure from office, returned the aid. No clear explanation as to why the return happened, was ever given. Aid has been a controversial matter when dealing with situations, if the situation in Sudan is recalled, the manipulation of humanitarian aid can be use by the leader of the country for political action. Thus the question may arise as to how Kagame plans to deal with this action and how it may be reflected in his policies at the international and domestic level.

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