Rwanda’s Rampaging Rebel Force |

So how do you get away with arming a rebel force that attacks U.N. peacekeepers, rapes women and recruits children? You need powerful friends, and Rwanda has had one. Born from the guilt of the Clinton administration’s inaction in the face of the Rwandan genocide, and a recognition of Rwanda’s relatively efficient use of development aid, the United States has proven to be one of Kigali’s staunchest allies. When the interim report of the U.N. experts came out in June, it was widely alleged that the United States delayed its publication, arguing that Rwanda, which had been uncooperative, should be given time to respond. The Obama administration suspended $200,000 worth of military aid, but only under a legislative requirement, all the while undermining efforts at the United Nations to denounce Rwanda’s role in the crisis.

Despite supporting a brutal rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda is about to take a seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Few countries dare challenge the Security Council the way Rwanda does; even fewer get away with it. Yet on Tuesday, despite backing an abusive rebel group that has attacked U.N. peacekeepers in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda will take a two-year seat on the council. At the famous horseshoe table, Rwanda will get to make life-and-death decisions on the future of countries in crisis, including the very neighbor it is accused of destabilizing.

Philippe Bolopion is United Nations director for Human Rights Watch.

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