Canada established relations with Rwanda in 1963, when it supported the creation of the Rwanda National University in the city of Butare. Canada first had an ambassador accredited to Rwanda in 1967. Today, Canada is represented in Rwanda by the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya. Canada also has an Office of the High Commission in Kigali, Rwanda. The Canadian High Commissioner to Rwanda resides in Nairobi. Rwanda is represented in Canada by a High Commission in Ottawa.
Since 1963, the relationship between Canada and Rwanda has evolved from one focused on aid to one that covers a wide range of issues, with an emphasis on trade promotion, judicial matters and cooperation within multilateral organizations such as the International Organization of La Francophonie and the Commonwealth. Canada notes Rwanda’s national reconciliation process and the progress it has made with respect to development, and encourages Rwanda to remain vigilant about policies that could interfere with democracy. Canada regularly stresses to Rwanda the importance of a pluralist society, respecting commitments on human rights, and seeking concrete solutions to challenges in the region related to peace and security.
Rwanda is third on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings for Sub-Saharan Africa (52nd of 185 countries). Two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Rwanda reached $52.8 million in 2012. Figures for 2012 rose considerably following the sale of two Canadian aircraft to Rwanda. Largely due to this sale, Rwanda became Canada’s largest trading partner in the Central Africa Region in 2012. Other important areas of Canada-Rwanda commercial relations include engineering and environmental services, electricity production and distribution industries, and infrastructure and information technologies. Key sources of economic growth in 2013 in Rwanda are expected to be in services and agriculture.
Following the genocide in 1994, Canada contributed to efforts to re-establish Rwanda’s social institutions and infrastructure. In 2004, the Canadian Parliament declared April 7 as a Day of Remembrance of the victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. On April 7, 2008, the Canadian Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution to designate April 7 as a Day of Reflection on the Prevention of Genocide. Former Governor General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean, made a state visit to Rwanda in April 2010; this was the first visit to Rwanda by a high ranking Canadian official since the genocide.
Canada has continuously supported the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) since the Tribunal was established in 1994 to prosecute those responsible for the genocide. In June 1999, amendments to the Canadian Extradition Act and other legislation were adopted, in order to allow the surrender of accused individuals to the ICTR. In addition to its share of contributions made through general assessments, Canada has provided $1 million in voluntary contributions to the ICTR. The ICTR has been requested to take all possible measures to complete its remaining work no later than 31 December 2014. After completion of its mandate, the remaining functions of the ICTR will be transferred to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT).
In 2000, Canada enacted the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, which authorizes the initiation of proceedings in Canada for these offences, even if they have been committed abroad, when the individual is on Canadian soil. Two Rwandans have been charged under this act, one of whom has been convicted. After a judicial process, Canada deported Rwandan Léon Mugesera in January 2012; he is on trial in Rwanda for crimes related to the genocide.
Over the years, Canada has provided support to Rwanda through official development assistance. As part of the Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan 2012, it was decided to end Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funding for bilateral programs in Rwanda. As such, there are no more financial contributions to be made for bilateral programs and CIDA no longer has a presence in Rwanda. Remaining Canadian assistance to Rwanda is provided through non-governmental organizations or through regional or multilateral initiatives and is focused on addressing humanitarian needs, advancing development goals, or improving the security environment in order to help the people of the Great Lakes region.
Canada supports the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), a regional forum to foster dialogue among the countries in the region and to implement durable solutions for peace, security and stability. Canada particularly supports the ICGLR taking leadership against the illegal exploitation of natural resources and sexual and gender-based violence. Canada encourages Rwanda’s efforts to implement the ICGLR’s “Pact on Stability, Security, and Development”, notably with regards to the regional mineral certification mechanism.
Canada supports the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), whose objective is to strengthen implementation of the Central African Forests Commission’s (COMIFAC’s) action plan for conservation and sustainable management of forest ecosystems. Rwanda is a member of the CBFP and COMIFAC. Canada also collaborates with Rwanda on participatory resource governance in the context of the International Model Forest Network, with support provided through Canada’s African Model Forest Initiative.
Rwanda is a member of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), a partnership created in 1998 among the 10 states riparian to the river Nile. Canada has supported and encouraged Nile Basin dialogue and cooperative activities since its beginnings in 1993.
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