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 is resident 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 second on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings for Sub-Saharan Africa (32nd of 189 countries in 2014). Two-way merchandise trade is modest and amounted to $7.8 million in 2013.
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. President Kagame had private visits to visited Canada in April 2006 and September 2013. Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, visited Kigali in April 2014 to represent Canada at ceremonies marking the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda and honouring its victims.
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. After completion of its mandate at the end of 2014, 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 were charged under this act, one of whom was 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.
For years, Canada has provided support to Rwanda through development assistance. As part of the Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan 2012, it was decided to end Canadian funding for bilateral development programming in Rwanda. However, Rwanda benefits from Canadian aid provided through DFATD multilateral and regional programs and in partnership with Canadian organizations. A modest Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, managed by the Canadian High Commission in Kenya, makes it possible to support initiatives undertaken by local non-governmental organizations. Canada is involved in a regional project of $13.5 million over seven years (2010-2017), in partnership with the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI), a Canadian NGO, to combat violence against girls and young women in the Great Lakes region, including in Burundi.
Canada supports the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), a regional forum to foster dialogue among the 11 countries in the region. The ICGLR plays a central role in fighting against exploitation and trafficking of minerals in the Great Lakes region, particularly through the implementation of a regional mechanism for certification of minerals inspired the Kimberley Process for diamonds. Rwanda issued the first ICGLR mineral export certificate in November 2013. Between 2009 and 2013, Canada contributed over $3.7 M to fight the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Great Lakes region.
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. In 2012-2013, Canada provided financial support, through the African Model Forest Initiative for a pilot project on forest landscape restoration in the District of Nyabihu, West Province.
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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