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Ibrahim Gambari, Former Nigerian Ambassador to the UN Security Council

Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari was Nigeria’s ambassador to the UN Security Council in 1994 and became president of the Council in May 1994. He was also coordinator of the nonaligned caucus inside the Security Council and was a driver behind many Security Council resolutions and presidential statements surrounding the genocide in Rwanda. Here he speaks about lessons learned from the Rwandan genocide, the internal politics within the Security Council, and how they can affect peacekeeping operations and their mandates.


In terms of lessons from Rwanda, during the dark period of the genocide the nonaligned [NAM] caucus, which was quite strong at that time, about six members, plus China usually, has enough numbers not to veto a resolution but to make it difficult to get the right number of votes that needs to pass, to be received. So people have to recognize the role. However it is one thing to recognize the NAMs movement in terms of their contribution to get the resolution adopted, but to take their views very, very seriously, enough to initiate a resolution.

NAM caucus introduced a resolution on the 13th of April during the genocide in 1994, but that resolution, because it contained elements asking for an increase in the strength of UNAMIR was never really typical because the secretariat didn’t seem to have much interested, in part because they sensed that the big powers also did not have much interest. Nonetheless we made contribution to the debate, we drew attention to what was going on, nobody could say they didn't know, we suggested areas of possible action. But what I am worried about is that 20 years later, the situation in the Security Council, that I see, is that the NAM caucus, the non P-5 [permanent five members], still doesn’t [have] enough pull to initiate and draft and have resolutions, even in areas where they have an interest, where they have knowledge, in which they are even contributing troops.

So really, it is really very important to see how that can be addressed. For example, I understand when it comes to Sudan, the British have “the pen” in the Security Council, in other words they have, they are the ones that are assigned the responsibility for drafting the resolution, if it is in a conflict in a Francophone country, it is the French. There are other members of the Security Council and they should be given an opportunity to draft a resolution and to contribute to find an option. So those are the kinds of concerns that were there then, and seem to be there now. Thank you.