In his first testimony before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda - but perhaps not his last - General Romeo Dallaire, former Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) today explained the role and operations of UNAMIR in late 1993 and early 1994. The General said that
the peace-keeping force, comprising troops from 26 countries, performed its duties to the best of its ability. However, it did not get all the equipment and resources it required. "The force could have played a more effective role with adequate equipment and training."
[During the testimony the Prosecutor indicated her intention to request the General to testify in future in other cases.]
The General, who served in Rwanda between 21 October 1993 and 19 August 1994, went on to explain that UNAMIR, like all United Nations operations, was dependent on contributions of States, and its performance was a reflection of the commitment of the organisation's member States in both human and material resources.
The neutral peace-keeping force, he said, was established following the Arusha Peace Accord signed in early 1993 to pave the way for democratic elections in Rwanda.
Defence Witness or Expert Witness?
The President of the Tribunal and presiding judge of Trial Chamber 1, Judge Laïty Kama clarified at the beginning of the proceedings that General Dallaire was not a witness for the Defence, but an expert witness requested by the Defence. Dallaire's testimony follows the partial waiver of his immunity by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 13 January 1998.
Scope of Waiver of Immunity Defined
Prior to General Dallaire's testimony, the United Nations Secretariat presented an Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) submission defining the scope of the waiver of immunity enjoyed by General Dallaire. Ms. Daphna Shraga, an officer of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs told the court that the waiver does not relate to the release of confidential documents of the United Nations which is subject to the authorization of the Secretary-General.
The United Nation's Secretariat further stated: "The establishment of a peacekeeping operation, its mandate, nature, operational activities, and resources - both human and material - are the product of decision-making processes of the Security Council and of individual member states. While such decisions may be subject to different appreciations, the trial of an individual accused charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, and violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions, is not the appropriate context within which the performance of a peacekeeping operation, the propriety and adequacy of its mandate, its operational activities and the decision-making processes relating thereto, should be assessed."
"In waiving the immunity of General Dallaire," the Secretariat added, "the Secretary-General has demonstrated his desire to cooperate with the Tribunal. The Secretary-General is convinced, however, that it is in the interest of all concerned that questions put to the witness are limited to matters of direct relevance to the charges made against the accused. It remains, of course, for the Tribunal to decide on the admissibility of any particular question."
In the course of the examination-in-chief (questioning of a witness by the party that has requested the witness) of General Dallaire by the counsel for the Defence, Judge Kama ruled that confidential reports sent by UNAMIR to the United Nations Secretariat Headquarters in New York were not relevant to the defence of the accused. The witness was therefore not required to answer questions on that aspect of his activities as force Commander of UNAMIR.
The examination-in-chief of General Dallaire by the Defence and the Prosecutor's cross-examination were concluded today.