Lt. General Dallaire questions the world' priorities
How do you measure someone’s level of humanity? According to retired Lieutenant-General Rom?o Dallaire, humans have the global responsibility of preventing humanitarian crises and aiding the developing world during times of struggle and tragedy.
The world did not listen to Rom?o Dallaire when he warned the Western world of the possibility of a Rwandan genocide. The innaction resulted in hundreds of thousands of Rwandans being slaughtered, including more than 3,000 children.
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire wondered aloud if the world has learned anything from that tragedy.“Are all humans, human?” was the question Lt. General Dallaire asked over and over to a full auditorium at the University of Waterloo’s Humanities Theatre Friday night.? He made a direct comparison between the 1990s conflicts in Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
The former received a quick response “with all sorts of resources,” while Rwanda was largely ignored until it was too late. The western world had no interest in saving Rwandan’s because there weren’t any benefits for them, Dallaire claimedIn his lecture? “A Communion of Humanity and the Planet” Lt. General Dallaire explained to a room full of students the significance of leadership.“You can lead. You must lead – you must be engaged – you’re the leading edge of revolution in being able to communicate with the world... with humanity,” he said.
In his concern for humanity, he declared that the responsibility of global citizens was to? “establish a communion between what humans need and what we are able to be provided from the planet.”Dallaire appealed to students by declaring that? they need to “shape the future – don’t just try to survive it.” He explained the significance of getting involved in developing programs and non-governmental organizations, as well as the importance of democracy in order to survive in this new century.
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire was in charge of a failed 1994 UN peacekeeping mission during the Rwandan genocide. He later wrote a? book based on? the mass slaughter called Shake Hands with the Devil.
He recently released a new book, They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children, and told the UWaterloo crowd that war has changed and the enemy no longer respects rules outlined in the Geneva Convention.
During his lecture, Dallaire also addressed the severe issue of child soldiers, particularly girls, who make up 40 per cent of the combatants recruited.
Unlike the boys, these girls serve multiple roles, as cooks, sex slaves, and soldiers, Dallaire explained.
A Liberal senator since 2005,? Dallaire has worked closely with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in order to find a solution for the illegal use of child soldiers in civil wars.
Dallaire expressed concern that, given present policies regarding foreign conflicts, more powerful nations will not react quickly enough to help the people in places such as Libya, Darfur, and Congo. He said that until? now, governments have only acted out of crisis management and that must change. “Responsibility to protect is a new concept,” he said.
On a positive aspect, Dallaire pointed out there was real power in NGOs, run by people who are working in the middle of conflict and who can relate to the affected parties in a civil war.
He also squarely addressed the young people in the crowd, pointing out that only 15 per cent of their population usually turned out to vote. If young people ever decided to consolidate, their influence could affect generations to come, he said.
Dallaire ended his lecture with a powerful quote that summed up the power of democracy in our modern world: “You hold the balance of power in this democracy - and you’re not exercising it.”email@example.com