The last just man
“Are all humans human?” inquired Lt- General (Ret.) Roméo Dallaire, appearing in J. G. Hagey Hall at the University of Waterloo on Mar. 18. “Are all humans human or are some more human than others?”
“Why was it that in Rwanda where there were more people killed, injured, displaced and raped in 100 days than in the six years of the Yugoslavia campaign? I was barely able to keep 450 and in the ex-Yugoslav they deployed 67,000 soldiers and billions [of dollars]?”
Dallaire arrived at the assumption that “we have established a pecking order in humanity.” Citing international action throughout the conflicts that have surfaced in recent history, he asserted that the lowest level of humanity is regarded to be Sub-Saharan black Africa.
“The question of whether all humans are human is not some sort of great esoteric, philosophical question. It is reality. It is how we assess humanity,” he added.
Dallaire confirmed that we have stumbled into a new era. International laws concerning armed conflict and humanitarian issues existed before the Cold War, as they exist today. However, the uniforms disappeared and the forgone traditions of conventional combat have led to a departure from, what Dallaire referred to as, classic war.
“The opposition is not playing by the letter of the law nor the spirit of these laws,” he added. “We have entered an era that is fraught with ethical, moral and legal dilemmas because we are not to sure how to handle these new parameters.”
“The most sophisticated, low technology weapons system right now in the inventory is a twelve-year-old with an AK-47,” Dallaire explained. “40 per cent of them are girls and they were far more useful than boys. In many of these societies, they run the camps, get the food and in many cases they’re the sex slaves and the bush wives. You can’t find a more complete weapons system.”
“I would contend that we are in a new world disorder,” he added.
Dallaire argues that we have embraced words such as security without having a conceptual base to define it in these kinds of conflicts. For this reason, he argues that we are still engaging in crisis management policies in places like Afghanistan and failing to target the political mindset needed to effectively resolve conflict.
“We are citizens of a leading middle power in this world. With that comes a responsibility to protect and a responsibility of leadership that we can accomplish,” Dallaire stated.
Dallaire established that the old tools meant to address issues of classic war simply do not work well anymore. “There is no such thing as a single disciplined solution to the complex problems that are out there,” he added.
“We need a whole new generation of leaders who are multi disciplined, who are knowledgeable of the other discipline, who can make them work together and to create something new.”
Dallaire affirmed that what is needed is a whole new lexicon of action verbs that integrate these newfound disciplines into a coherent plan to redefine future conflicts.
He stated, “We have the responsibility to come in with innovative and new ideas to grasp this new era we are in and try to make some solutions to it.”
Dallaire served as Force Commander of UNAMIR, the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda in 1993-4. The failure to prevent the impending genocide of 800,000 ethnic Hutu and Tutsi civilians has called to revisit the legal and moral implications of humanitarian intervention.
Recently assuming office as senator, Dallaire released a new book this past September entitled They fought like soldiers, they died like children. He has pledged to end the use of child soldiers.
“Ultimately, we must have the courage and the determination to go out and convince world leadership of the responsibility to protect because fundamentally, I believe in the fact that all humans are human and not one of us is more human than the other,” Dallaire concluded.