International Legal System Needs Change

Kigali, 24. September 2012

President Paul Kagame has proposed to the UN General Assembly that the international legal system has to change – accusing some countries of using their local laws to ‘assume priority over others’.

Hearing at Gacaco Court 2009

Addressing the UN High Level session on Rule of Law on Monday, President Kagame said countries need to ‘work together’ for a universal justice that is ‘meaningful to all concerned’. Without naming any countries or individuals, the President accused some quarters of “politicizing issues of justice”.

“We see principles such as universal jurisdiction being used many times selectively and in one direction as a political tool in the arena of international affairs for the purposes of control and domination,” said Kagame.

“Rwanda knows best how important the rule of law is and, the implication of its absence or disregard, and unequal application,” said Kagame.

He added: “That absence destroyed our country in the post-independence decades leading up to the Genocide in 1994, followed by unjust treatment in the name of universal jurisdiction where it has been clear that motives veer more towards the political than legal”.

Using Rwanda’s now closed traditional Gacaca courts, President Kagame told fellow world leaders that a ‘purely punitive course of action is not always the best, even when grievances are legitimate and obvious’.

“There were hundreds of thousands of perpetrators and a strong case of a punitive approach, but to best serve our priorities of both justice and social harmony, we sought to balance the strict application of punitive provisions of the law with restorative alternatives,” said Kagame.

“This home grown solution through Gacaca court process, has served us better than any other system could.”

The President said this principle of balancing punitive and restorative forms of justice are applicable to the international arena.

Meanwhile addressing the same session just before President Kagame, was the President of Namibia, Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba, who called for the reform of the UN Security Council to make it “more democratic”. says Gacaca better than any other legal system.

Source: News from Rwanda, 24.09.12

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