By almost any regard, Romeo Dallaire is a hero.
Moreover, Dallaire is one of the few examples of individuals hoisted up to this hallowed status by virtue of having tried but failed to prevent an inhuman massacre.
Of course, it helps that his failing was not of his own making. In 1994, severely undermanned and underequipped, Dallaire led a United Nations peacekeeping mission into war-torn Rwanda. When Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana was assassinated. (Sitting president Paul Kagame -- a Tutsi, and former leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front that effectively ended the genocide in Rwanda -- was fingered as responsible for the assassination by a recent French report, but that is a story for another time.)
While Dallaire pleaded for a UN intervention force, various countries central to the UN refused to intervene for a variety of -- largely domestic -- political reasons.
Against nearly impossible odds, Dallaire struggled to keep his troops and Tutsi civilians alive in the midst of a country that very much had declared war against them. When the genocide was finally over, Dallaire returned to Canada suffering from a severe case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
In time, Dallaire managed to conquer his demons -- although he himself notes they'll always remain with him -- and in 2005 was appointed by then-Prime Minister Paul Martin to the Canadian Senate.
On Thursday, February 21, Dallaire addressed an audience at the University of the Alberta as a keynote speaker for the Global Voices conference. This is what he had to say.
"Today, we're going to be talking about you and about the environment we're in, but not necessarily the environment of the planet and how the planet and human beings are attempting to keep a communion going between them and not the friction that can lead to catastrophic failures for both in the future. We're going to talk about the environment in which humanity is now, we hope, evolving, and where humanity is in need of support and assistance.Senator Dallaire's speech was followed by an hour-long question-and-answer period which will follow in later days.
Particularly, the large portion of humanity that are, in fact, living in inhuman conditions. My target audience, if I will be permitted, tonight, will be those that are called "youths".
If we are talking in UN parlance, a youth is under the age of 25. I tend to think of the youth of a nation as up to 30. In the '60s, we never trusted anyone above 30.I talk to youths up to 30, and in particular, anyone of the age of 18 and beyond.
I want to talk to you because you hold the balance of power in the country. You literally hold the power of the politics and the orientation in this country.
It's a numbers game.
After you (of course) decide to vote, the voting population between the ages of 18 and 30 in Canada represent about 35% of the total volume of population. However, to start I speak mostly of the federal situation, although at the provincial level it's quite similar, but at the federal level, only about 15% of that startling number vote.
Imagine if all of you decided to vote. Imagine if you, all of you youths of this nation, who's future is not something 25 years down the road. When I was 22 or 23, some older individuals said to me "well, what do you want to do with your future?", well to me, that was something like 45 years old. Something like that.
Today, because nothing is constant, because we are continuously in flux, because we're not in a state of change, we're approaching a state of revolution; by technology, by globalism, by grander designs, and so on.
Your future is five, six, seven years down the road. It's shifting that fast.
What you do now, while you're still a youth, is going to significantly influence your life while you're still a very young person.
So you can go out, and actually start a new party. Say "we want a party that's going to do this. It's going to do this inside the country, it's going to do this outside the country."
"We're going to create a party that's going to answer the question: what will we do with Canada?". Or "What is Canada for?".
Is it because we have citizens and we are taking care of ourselves and we are responding to our own ambitions? Or is there something else that has happened to Canada in this era? That all of a sudden has it stumbling beyond its borders? And is stumbling into areas that are uncertain? Sometimes uncharted, and what has happened?
Technology today is being mastered. There is no seemingly fear of going to those other borders or other areas, but we're not sure exactly what to do.
Churchill said "when great nations acquire power they also acquire a responsibility beyond their borders."
And so, ladies and gentlemen, you could create a party that does what you want it to. Or you could shift some of the parties that exist now to what you want it to do, if you massively coalesced to vote.
That is the raw, real power that you have that is not being exercised.
In this country, you are having all kinds of opportunity to exercise it. Just watch the numerous federal elections, one after another. And you're allowed to sort of ponder one party or another because what happened is the political parties really responded regarding you youths.
You've shown them! We've been well managed over the last years. We have been able to continue to stabilize our own internal capabilities and we're working on the outside on the economics and so on, and we're working on the outside. We're working in different realms of internationalism.
But we've been well managed. And so it's okay. And when you look at the campaigns of the last while, at the federal level, how many politicians have come out and said "what do you think we should be doing on the planet? Where do you think we should be going?"
"What grand focus, what grand design should we have, or do we need one?"
Or let's go on, let's do what we've been doing so much, working on our regionalism. On our parochialism. On our taxations, and so on, meeting our needs.
That being of a great needing middle power in the world?
We are not the 160th country out of 194 in the UN. We are part of the nine most powerful nations in the world. This province is participating in that power base. Even if only by the energy capability.
Our north has been touched. What happens when we open up the third big canal in the world? Suez canal, Panama canal, and the Northwest Passage? What happens then?
There is seemingly no limit to the potential here, intellectually and as far as its recourse base and its ability to sustain it, through the technology and application of knowledge.
You can't belong inside this incredibly powerful nation with its belief in human rights, it's vast technology, it's worth ethic -- its strong work ethic -- and without this desire to subsume anyone else, to be an imperial country -- we, messed up how we've handled the first nations and the aboriginals, but we have no grand design anywhere else in the world to take over any place.
The fundamental law of the nation is a Charter of Human Rights. And it says all humans, no just those who have the cash, are human. No one is more human than the other.
And so, this nation is this era of the post-Cold War, in this complex era has stumbled upon the responsibility beyond its borders which it hasn't risen to, necessarily. It hasn't articulated its grand design into this global, and at times volatile, environment.
It hasn't come to you, the youth of the nation, and said "how are we going to maximize the incredible potential that you and this nation have to do significant changes in the world?".
I'm not talking to couch potatoes tonight. In the end I hope to give a little more energy to that finer point that you have in regards to your perception of what you should be doing in this world.
I hope to be able to create activists.
Imagine if Canadian campuses suddenly became activists. Like in the '60s. That doesn't mean you take over the President's office every week. But every now and then you could give them a little scare. You could say "hey! We don't agree with this, and we want to do something about it."
And so, ladies and gentlemen, I'm talking to you not as people who are aloof, it's not in the nature of the beast in this country. I'm not talking to people who are void of any potential. I'm talking to you as individuals who have not yet maximized the synergy of our collective capabilities by your individual commitment, and have not even come close to maximizing what this nation has as a responsibility in the world.
We're talking here not here in past tense. We're not seeking to study history, we're seeking to grasp history, and it's a little farther than CNN -- further than last week, but not that far back.
We want to project ourselves into the future. One thing's certain about the future: it's all uncertain. [Yogi Berra] really had it. There's no small reference anymore. And yet he said ["the future ain't what it used to be"] sixty years ago. So you could imagine if he were around today and trying to figure out what was going on today.
That's what we're trying to work with. Now, you can either bounce around in the future that somebody else is making for you or you can participate. You can mold it. You could actually become leaders in that future.
For somebody to do the implicit thing -- to try to vision, to try and get a feel for something, to get proactive -- that's what they do. And so, they don't survive the future, they maneuver. They take the advantage to advance what they hope they believe is right.
And so, this era in which we find ourselves is not an easy era. It is not easy like the old days when we were all eurocentric and all we had to worry about were millions of Warsaw Pact troops and nuclear weapons on the other side. We had a whole bunch of people and we just balanced that out, and that's over there in Europe and we can just keep on doing our thing and every now and again we just invest a little bit more in the military and the diplomats and conferences but essentially it was out there -- way out there.
However, that all shattered when the Cold War ended. When it shattered, it created a whole new era. Not what George Bush senior said -- an era of order -- a world order I would contend is disorder.
We have become more and more conscious that 80% of humanity are living in inhuman conditions. We're conscious of that when we realized we believe in and were established under the law of human rights, humanitarian law, and 80% are in inhuman conditions.
And they keep doing this. Even some pretentiously say "hey, look at that, we're off into space, we're out to Mars".
The only reason why the Americans are off to Mars is because the Chinese are going to the Moon, and they want to stay one step ahead.
Because we're mastering technology, we're actually saying that humanity's advancing? How is that, when 80% are in inhuman conditions? How is it that the 20% are so pretentious that they say humanity is advancing? And ignoring the fact that they're not looking at all this, they're just looking to be treated as human beings.
We've not only seen and become aware of that suffering, but we've also seen how it's been destroying itself. Massively. And we've even participated or watched it these catastrophes that we thought had gone away.
Like the Holocaust! Certainly we aren't going to go into these massive catastrophic failures.
We've also seen the introduction of a new weapon they call terrorism, and how that has created an incredible paranoia in the developed world. It has created a massive paranoia in our neighbours to the south.
Which is not easily comprehended, particularly, by the Europeans. We're figuring it out.
In 2004 when George Bush was being reelected I was at the Kennedy School at Harvard, and I was amazed that even that sort of liberal environment how little America's population really questioned the very right-wing position that was being taken by the Bush administration. There was no debate because the Americans had been found vulnerable. They feel, in their soul, a vulnerability that had never existed there before.
That vulnerability has created a paranoia which ultimately has created a panic with all kinds of things like the Patriot Act, and Guantanamo Bay, and civil rights being thrown left, right, and center, and so on.
This paranoia has advanced. If a world power is in paranoia, of course it's going to influence the rest of the world, including the developed countries, including us. They've found themselves vulnerable.
I've gone to speak in American military colleges, or war colleges. I like to go there. They have these huge stages, and there 1000 to 1500 students in these big institutions. When I go there, I like to imitate Patton. Not pretentiously, but really George C Scott in the movie Patton. If you remember that, he comes on the stage with this humongous American flag behind him and he's got all of his bells and whistles on and he stands there and he says "the aim, gentlemen, is to make the other poor bastard die for his country."
And that's what it was. The old, classic war, up to the end of the Cold War, which was attrition warfare. The side that was left standing won.
So when I go there I used to have my bells and whistles, but now I've retired so I go and I walk up to center stage but as I'm coming on stage I've got a huge Canadian flag behind me. And I go up there and I say "I come from a country that beat you guys twice." Now, you could actually hear the gears turning. "What? When was that?" So I say "1775 and the war of 1812".
However, some of them will say there was a time some would say that both sides won the war of 1812. I say "no, no. We won." I said "because you guys came up to Canada and burned down this place called York, you know, Toronto -- I'm from Montreal, I don't really bother too much about that -- we went to Washington, burned the place down, it was built on a swamp and you guys rebuilt again! I mean, you guys don't learn."
The Americans are vulnerable. In their soul. And that vulnerability is creating panic, still, today.
Global terrorism is part of that instrument of panic that's out there, and with that we are seeing all kinds of responses, even legalizing mercenaries. I mean, we actually hire people to do jobs that should essentially be done by soldiers under the normal law of conflict, but no, we hire these guns out there and they'll do whatever is required under the contract. The use of force without the same rules of engagement. Not the same liabilities, nor the same responsibilities.
Governments use them because its cheaper and its less political. If a mercenaries dead, hey. If a soldier's dead, that's a different story.
And so we've sort of skitted aside some main and fundamental laws that we've created over centuries and tried to establish and now we're fiddling with them because we're worried about this era and how we're going to handle it.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, we're in an era where we've sorted out massive war. Nations at war, massive armies and so on. And we're in an era where we're not too sure about all these imploding nations left, right and center, and all these humanitarian catastrophes.
But there's another one that has snuck in there, is still in there, and is rarely raised today. If I asked you "do you believe there are still nuclear weapons out there?", I suspect the answer would be "yes".
What if I told you there were 27,000 nuclear weapons out there today? What if I told you that nearly 3000 of them are on 30 minutes notice to be launched? And they're not aimed at big military targets because they don't exist anymore. They're aimed at civilian cities. What if I told you that if we launched four to five of the humongous ones we can forget about environment, because there won't be any atmosphere left.
And yet, not only are countries massively investing in improving them, into the trillions, but they are preventing other countries from acquiring it for their own defense on the argument that there should be no proliferation.
However, when you turn to them and say "maybe leadership by example would be you disarming a bit. Maybe if you start disarming they won't feel that they have to acquire nuclear weapons."
And so we've seen the big powers, still today, with this incredible arsenal, which is absolutely and totally obsolete, modernize obsolescence, out there, asserting all kinds of funds, keeping a lot of technology busy, but putting the whole exercise of our existence under constant threat.
I think that's an abuse of my human right to security, the fact that all of that stuff still exists.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, how many have been out there saying that Canada -- yes, we could build nuclear weapons, we had the technology in the '50s, we decided not to -- but we're very beaten path in this country. We know how to maneuver. We say "no, we're not going to get nuclear weapons", but we'll stay in the alliance that uses them in the fundamental defense of their organization, NATO.
Now, either we're very smart or we're hypocritical. I'm not sure yet, I'm working that out.
But how is it that is there, but no one's talking about it? No one's talking about it.
Everything worth debating in environment is for not if a couple of these idiots, like Dr Strangelove, launches a few missiles.
And so, an incredible vulnerability that is in the backdrop, and we're just letting it go. Well, why don't we try to look at some of these complexities and see whether or not we have room to maneuver.
Well, we've got peacekeepers! Maybe that's an instrument that can still be used. This is the one good mission: Chapter Six. Good guys in two groups and we stand there as a referee, but no red card, no penalty box, but we can stand there between them if they want to do it right. We're there to observe, and so on. And what happened in the '90s is that met with catastrophic failure.
There is no more peacekeeping. We in uniform were amazed at their reaction when Canada sent troops into nations in conflict or nations imploding, and they're using force, and Canadians are like, "hey! We changed our army. We've changed our philosophy. We are into international involvement."
During the Cold War, when peacekeeping started, in the '50s, Pearson and so on, peacekeeping was only 3% of our activity. 97% was preparing to fight World War Three in central Europe and northern Norway.
We were training to fight World War Three and doing this peacekeeping on the side. Except that in Canada, it acquired 97% of our publicity.
And then when Chapter Six peacekeeping disappeared, all these nations going at each other, imploding nations, where people from the same country are into civil wars inside a country. The Rwandan genocide was done by Rwandans. These nations are imploding and the old methodologies of a time to keep a separation between the combatants and separating the combatants from the civilians is done because the civilian population is one of the principal weapons of conflict now.
Massive abuse of human beings, moving them massively, creating scenarios that make it impossible for resolutions to come to. And so we don't have peacekeeping anymore. It's not there.
So we don't have these big wars we have these new situations behind us, and all of a sudden we don't have peacekeeping. People are not negotiating, they're going at each other by ethnicity, by tribalism, by power-sharing. And so we find ourselves studying and acknowledging, "what are these catastrophic failures of our era?"
"I mean, we've been working at it for the last 10, nearly 15 years, we've seen what creates these reasons for why people go at each other. We could actually watch it. We've studied it. We've actually created genocide and prevention structures."
We've looked at it. But how are we doing so far? In Darfur?
And so we've not only found the tools that don't seem to be working, but we also see tools out there that are, in fact, creating massive disruptions, catastrophic failures within humanity.
There are two and a half million people in Darfur with nothing. I've been there twice. It's been over four years and they still have nothing, and the women are being raped and being slaughtered and the men are being killed, and the kids are dying of malnutrition. The humanitarians can't get in and we aren't even close to solving it through the normal processes.
It's not because we're insensitive. Do you remember the Tsunami? Tusnami. Boxing day. This natural disaster, there's a certain vulnerability, so we poured millions of dollars for all kinds of people there. The media went nuts on it. It was incredible.
Did you know there were more people killed and injured, internally displaced and raped in Darfur than all of those countries [affected by the] Tsunami and not a plug nickel went to Darfur.
Not only that, a year later the media went back to see how things were a year later. And during that whole day that they reported back on that Tsunami there wasn't one mention of Darfur.
Is it because it's man-made, we don't seem to be able to respond. If it's man-made, we should be able to control it! If it's a natural disaster, we're all vulnerable to that.
So we've seen massive problems. But we see in particular the youths, the children. In the UN parlance, a child is up to 18. How is it that children seem to be one of the most obvious targets of this era -- of the last 15 to 16 years? They are massively destroyed, orphaned.
In Rwanda they don't even understand the concept of an orphan. There was always somebody taking care of them. Between HIV/AIDS and the genocide, they ended up with over 500,000 orphans. They have no concept of how to sort this out.
The refugee scenario -- I was in my office working with CIDA on orphans and children. The door smashes open and these three guys come in and they have big red noses on them. And I wasn't too sure about this, so I said "what's all this about?"
They said "we're here because we need your support."
I said "well, what are you?"
He said "we are Clowns Without Borders."
And I said, "you're serious?"
And he said "yes."
What they do is they go into refugee camps and they teach children how to laugh. They actually teach them games. They teach them how to be able to forget the environment. How to build walls. And this is my intro to the NGO [(Non Government Organizations)] world, ladies and gentlemen.
Not that they're clowns. I'd get enough critique about that.
The NGO world: I hope that by the end of this evening I will convince you that the NGO world will become the super capability that will in the future influence, massively, public opinion and policies of governments. If it matures, and if it coaleseces. And those are big gifts.
The NGO world is a new part that is exploding out there and looking for recruits and capabilities.
And so we've got not only victims, but in a direct way, participants. We've actually created, in this era, child soldiers. We've always had young boys in these environments, but not being a principal weapon of war.
There are about 300,000 children that are always out there fighting in over 30 countries either for the government or for other organizations or for rebellious structures and they are principal weapon because the machine gun is so easy to carry and shoot and maintain. And it is the most sophisticated low-technology weapons system available today. There's all kinds of light weapons, and hundreds of millions of them. And ammunition.
There's all kinds of children. You just go and swipe them from their school and so on. And you take them and you drill them and you incorporate them and they eat less and they're less problem if you have to get rid of them, there's lots of them.
And in response to everything, it's up front, shooting and aiming, boys and girls. In some of these male-dominated societies where they don't want the midwives in the camps, they're also the sex slaves and the bush wives. You can't find a weapon system that complete.
It's out there. They've been in massive existence since the late '80s. Not only that, but they're being used in Sri Lanka and in a number of countries in armed conflict. Kids: 8, 9.
Some are being used in the drug wars. I was in Rio and thousands of kids are being maimed and killed in the drug wars. They're 8, 9, 10, 12. Boys and girls.
And so, a new weapon, and not much reaction. They're just letting it continue. And so what happened with all the great work we did? I mean all the rules are there.
All the rules are there. There's just one small problem. We've entered an era in which one side is not playing by the rules at all.
During the Cold War we knew who was going to push that button on that nuclear weapon on the other side. We knew what their doctrine was. We knew what their ethos was. We knew that their training was. We knew what their ambitions were.
We have no real grasp of what's out there today that that is creating all this havoc, coming to this rage in the developing world. We've seen it in the Muslim world. There's absolutely nothing that prevents the African world from doing exactly the same. We've been raping them for over 200 years.
The big change in this era is that one of these two sides is not playing by any of these rules and they're dragging us down the same road.
How do you control torture? You're allowed to pull out their toenails but not fingernails? How do you actually control torture? And how far do you push the abuse of civil rights? And how many conventions do you throw out the window because they aren't suiting the requirements? Because we don't have the response to that threat that they've created.
And so they're winning, massively, because we're starting to move down the same road in the panic that has been created in this era. It is not an easy era.
It is not an easy era just looking at what's happening, but also, how we're responding.
We have actually created, in this era, a pecking order in humanity. We actually created a pecking order in humanity. We actually, with all the great concepts and applications of all our laws, the protocols, the humanitarian law, we've said "no, everyone is equal," except sometimes some aren't just as equal. Maybe, sometimes, some human beings on this planet are not as human as us. Maybe we count more.
During the genocide, the extremists used to use very young children to stop the convoys. And if the kids didn't stay on the road to block the convoy, they'd kill them. And then when the convoy arrives, the kids were there and they'd stop and were ambushed. They'd kill everyone, steal everything.
So one day I'm negotiating with people and moving between the lines. I'm in the no man's land between the two warring factions. And up ahead, about two or three hundred meters, is a little boy, a local. So I think maybe it's an ambush. We slow down, nobody should be here. We stop, jump out, no ambush.
So we hunt around and go looking for somebody to take care of the child, and all we find are bodies decaying from being massacred weeks before. While we're looking for somebody to take care of the child, we lose the child. So we go back and find him in a hut where two adults and and kids are all decaying and he's just sitting there.
So I took him and I brought him to the road and my vehicle and I look at him. His stomach is bloated and he's scarred and he's dirty, mangy, there are flies all over. However, I looked into his eyes. And what I saw in that child's eyes, that three or four year-old boy, was exactly what I saw in my four year-old son when I took off for Africa.
They were the eyes of a human child.
They were the eyes of a human child. That is the overriding factor. And so we find ourselves discussing whether or not we should actually consider these people who are killing each other as equals to us. Should we risk? What's in it for us? Why would we want to go and involve ourselves, particularly in an era where we know that rage is fomenting in enormous amounts of frictions in the international community?
And it's got the world leader -- I mean you can't live without them, but sometimes you can't live with them -- "hey! They're our neighours. We have to sort that out."
We've got to stop crapping on them and figure out a way to influence our American neighbours. Because if we don't, no one else is going to do it.
We've got to be proactive in trying to get in there in the entrails of them and influencing them, particularly in this era where there's power flowing, all those components of what we've created over these centuries are scattering to the wind.
And so we find ourselves in an era where we're debating the humanity, these human rights, our commitment and what is in fact influencing the decisions.
What is the political will out there? Were we going to Darfur to fight? To save two and a half million people? What's in it for us? And so the big powers, the ones who have capability the more self-interested companies -- Americans going into Iraq, not sanctioned by the UN. And so why are they there? "Well, they're there because of oil. It's a strategic resource. Oh, they're making democracy. I think maybe they're building bases to surround China. We did it with the Russians in the Cold War." Maybe they've got a perspective out there that they're moving on.
But we're not sure right now. It's not clear why they're there in that operation.
Where's the self-interest? There wasn't the transparency and impartiality of the UN. It was a single-nation-led coalition. So what's our self-interest? Are we dominated by self-interest? Are our politicians guided by self-interest?
Well, Bill Clinton pulled out of Mogadishu in 1993, (those who've seen the movie Black Hawk Down) when he lost 18 professional soldiers in a mission, out of millions in uniform, turned tail because he felt that people would not support his government going into a country where there's no self-interest, the only reason was humanitarian.
Like in Rwanda -- they didn't come in because there was no strategic value, and practically no resources. The only thing that was there were human beings and there's too many of them. It's overpopulated. That's why we're not going. Self-interest.
How do we get them to look beyond that? How do we get them above casualties? How is it the debate around Afghanistan surrounds our casualties versus the real goal? How much are we capable of handling? Are we willing to pay not just the blood the sweat and the tears and the cash and the part of our youth not for self-interest but because of humanitarianism?
And so, ladies and gentlemen, we are in an era of enormous legal and moral and ethical dilemmas. There's no more good guy/bad guy. It's not simple anymore. It's complex. It's ambiguous.
So how do you deal with ambiguity? How do you work with ambiguity?
One of the things is you don't sit there and wait for that to happen to you. You have to find solutions. You can sit there and hope that nobody will come, and you can isolate yourself. That's what a lot of Canadians believe.
When I was commanding the province of Quebec, and visiting all the infrastructure in Quebec, a platoon of not-very-capable individuals could go and destroy all the electrical transmission lines going from all those power dams, some to New England states, to Montreal, and so on. We built the infrastructure of this nation with no sense of security.
Real security, we have no sense of it.
Nobody's going to attack us, so we can sit back and say "we're not engaged, we're not involved." All we can do after 9/11, which was a big movement then, we'll build a wall around North America and we won't let anybody in. If you have a black mustache, you're not in. We'll build a police state.
That's really sorting out the problem.
Or we could go for resources. And try to resolve the problem. Go to the source of that rage, and attempt to support a solution in there.
We could go and maybe, one day, prevent conflicts. Because if we don't become experts at crisis response, that's all we've been doing for the last 15 years since the end of the Cold War.
We've also become pretty good at picking up the pieces and investing. I couldn't get 200 million dollars for two years for my UN mission. Within three months of the end of the genocide we had invested over two billion in humanitarian aid. That is not a good business plan. Plus the destruction that it did.
The ultimate aim is preventing conflict, not trying to respond to a crisis. Not picking up the pieces afterwards. But the highest risk is in prevention. Because if you go in and it doesn't go well you could be accused of having instilled it, and if it does go well, you'll get accused of wasting valuable resources.
Well, we're not near prevention. We're not even close to that. We're still fiddling at crisis response. We're still debating it.
We're in an era where we absolutely need reforms. We need multi-disciplinary people. We don't need diplomats who just do a lot of tough diplomatic work. We don't need generals who only know how to fight. We need people who are multi-disciplined, who can bring that stuff together.
We need a whole new set of commitments to the UN. We need to give up a bit of our sovereignty to the UN -- make it an effective capability.
We need to mature the NGOs. They have a new concept of their independence and their neutrality and their employment.
We might want to create a coalition of little powers to offer the UN other options than just the big boys who trip over each other, make a mess of it all, or little guys who, when we give them tough jobs, absolutely can't accomplish it, like in Darfur right now.
Justice and the elimination of intruders: the International Criminal Court is designed to go after those who commit crimes. And so we need a whole new way to get in there and solve these problems. We need ways to help them, bring to justice and eliminate impunity.
We can do that, if we pursue it.
For example, the Americans have not signed up to the International Criminal Court. However, as the case with Rwanda, or number three of the genocide, no one could find him. When the Americans put five million bucks on the table, three weeks later the Angolans turned him in to the tribunal.
So maybe they're not in it. But they're not totally out of it.
And so we must build that capability of responding, of paying that price. And ladies and gentlemen, we invented the new tool. I'm talking specifically about the NGOs.
We invented the Responsibility to Protect. We invented it in 2001, it was approved by the General Assembly in 2005, as the fundamental principle of commitment from nations when people are massively abused of human rights.
There is no such thing as absolute sovereignty anymore. You can't hide behind your borders. We'll go after you to attempt to help suffering people.
So how do we move down the road of prevention? Of trying to, possibly, stop these frictions amongst the different components of nations that degenerate into conflict?
I believe that first and foremost, is that in many of these male-dominated societies, we absolutely have to put power in the hands of women. But that just won't sort it out. They're just too tired of their existence in their culture in the background, even with the child soldiers.
When we demobilize child soldiers, the boys are demobilized and they're integrated easily because they did that warrior thing.
And the girls have been raped and abused and they're shunned. They're totally shunned. And so there's a difference of how to reintegrate them. Their societies are struggling to evolve with the power bases they have and so I absolutely believe that we've got to deal with male-dominated societies by empowering women.
The second thing we've gotta do is we've got to educate, educate, educate.
A few years ago they had the Conference of the Americas in Quebec City. I was delighted at the end of the week to speak to the youth who had come. And so they presented to me their resolutions. The first one, by far ahead of anything else, was education.
"Give us the power to discipline our minds. To be able to master our destiny." That's what they want.
They'll sort it out. Give them that ability to maximize their intellectual potential. So educate them.
I totally disagree with the concept of tolerance. I think it's pretentious. I think respect is the basis and we have to use the term throughout and base much of our arguments on that. And, finally, we have to be prepared to go beyond our borders to prevent, I hope, the massive abuse of human rights. That's absolutely critical. And so this gang ([the NGOs]) is now the new weapon.
When I say that to NGOs, they go nuts. "We are not weapons." You're right, you're not a weapon. But I speak in military parlance. You're an essential instrument of bringing about, ultimately, the prevention of conflict, by a whole series of capabilities. Now, please, cover the whole spectrum of humanity and its needs.
And so, what do you do? Support the NGOs. Don't just throw cash at them. Throw a bit of your brain power at them.
Get involved. Get these movements going. Get them going making peace. Get them into the schools where they can link up internationally.
Harass the politicians. We don't do that. We let the media harass them, and we bounce around with whatever they cover in a day. We don't harass them. How many of your have written your MP day an email? Just say "what are you doing about Darfur? What are you doing about Iraq?"
Every day. Every one of you. Blow apart their servers. You tell them what you want them to do. And not just the little political structures.
In a county, you may have 100,000 people. You probably have about 600 or 700 people who are card-carrying members. They're the ones who are going to decide who's going to represent you and who has the power to change our lives. They have it.
You just pick and choose. And we don't even do that. And so, ladies and gentlemen, you harass the politicians. You get out and tell them we need to have the capability to have a responsibility towards humanity. And in so doing you can bring that humanitarian face to them.
Get involved in the field. Go out there and get your boots dirty. Smell it. Taste it. Feel it. See it. Sense it. You don't have to be there four years. I'm not talking about missionary work. I'm saying you need to go see what 80% of humanity is.
One of the problem we have when we come back from our missions is we have trouble discerning what is reality. Is reality the opulence here or is reality the abject destruction of human life out there?
What is the true reality of humanity?
You go touch it, get your hands and boots dirty, come back. You will never be able to forget it. It will influence you and that influence is absolutely essential.
Our role is leading this middle power into its role in the advancement of humanity and human rights. It is essential. And so, become an activist. Become part of the process.
This is us, ladies and gentlemen. And 50 years from now, historians will say "what a great country. But what did they do? How much did they really put behind the great theories and concepts? Did they suffer to bring about for the other human beings the opportunity to be treated equally?"
We can't hide from it. Because, ladies and gentlemen, we have as the fundamental premise of this nation the belief in human rights. And it says all humans are human. Not one of us is more human than the other.
In the meantime, Dallaire's words give Canadians much to think about. History has long ago come to the point where simply saying we believe in human rights simply isn't enough any more. It's time to start going out and, as Michael Ignatieff put it "put our money where our mouth is".
Opportunities to do this like Rwanda have long since passed us by. Afghanistan demands the same attention, but meanwhile, a similar opportunity in the Sudan is also passing us by.
Canada has to learn to meet the challenges of this new era. Our professed belief in human rights demands it.