Topic: 2023-De-escalation of Sectarian Conflict
Delegate Name: Josh Machnacki
Sectarian conflict refers to hostilities between distinct religious or ethnic groups stemming from deep-seated differences. Such conflicts, rooted in historical, political, and social factors, can lead to violence and instability. These conflicts also contribute to significant humanitarian crises, displacements, loss of life, and prolonged social and political instability. It is for this reason the UN should quickly act to prevent and aid in resolving them as they arise.
Though an ethnic rather than sectarian conflict, the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 was a brutal and systematic mass slaughter that took place over a span of approximately 100 days. The conflict had its roots in longstanding ethnic tensions between the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority. Triggered by the assassination of Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, a Hutu, on April 6, 1994, extremist elements within the Hutu ethnic group initiated a genocidal campaign. Hutu militias targeted Tutsis and moderate Hutus, resulting in the massacre of an estimated 800,000 people. The international community & UN failed to intervene promptly and prevent the genocide. The aftermath of the tragedy left Rwanda deeply scarred. In March 1999 the UN Secretary-General commissioned an independent inquiry into the failed response of the UN to the genocide. The inquiry concluded that the main failure in the international community’s response was the lack of resources and political will, as well as errors of judgment as to the nature of the events in Rwanda.
Rwanda recommends measures are implemented by the UN to help swiftly prevent not just sectarian conflicts but all violent conflicts. Though the UN Charter states that the UN shall not “intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state,” Rwanda believes that the UN can and should intervene to stop violent conflict if it is clear the government(s) of affected areas need assistance in doing so. This aligns with the UN’s commitment to protect future generations from conflict. Additionally, if the government of a state is seeking to prevent UN involvment in a conflict at the expense of its own population it would be the duty of the United Nations to take action.
In conclusion, the Rwandan delegation emphasizes the urgent need for the United Nations to play an active role in preventing and resolving violent conflicts, whether they be ethnic, sectarian, or otherwise. As with the Rwandan Genocide, it is evident that timely international intervention can be crucial in averting humanitarian crises and loss of life. While respecting the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of states, Rwanda asserts that the UN should intervene in conflicts that pose a threat to populations. Furthermore, if a government is unwilling or unable to protect its own citizens, it is the duty of the United Nations to take decisive action to prevent further human suffering. The international community must learn from past mistakes and reinforce its commitment to the timely and effective prevention of violent conflicts for the sake of global peace and security.