This report was written by a Rwandan researcher, working with War Resisters' International and Connection e.V.


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Rwanda is a landlocked African country with a recent history of war and conflict. In 1990, a rebel army, formed by mostly exiled Tutsi refugees, attacked the regular army from Uganda. The war lasted four years and the rebel group, the Rwandese Patriotic Front, took control of the country and ended the genocide of 1994. Its military branch, the Rwandese Patriotic Army, integrated some of the regular defeated army and became the Rwanda Defence Forces.

This report examines barriers to leaving the armed forces in Rwanda over the past decade. It is based on the testimonies of former soldiers who have deserted the army (we use 'respondent a, b, c and d' to designate them. Anonymity is important for their security). We find that:

generally, soldiers recruited between 1990 and 2012 were not given employment contracts anyone recruited in this period (including those still in the armed forces currently) have no clear process for leaving the military for soldiers recruited in this period still in the military, ability to leave the military is at the discretion of commanding officers the consequences of desertion can be grave, yet difficulties in finding lawful ways to leave the army mean that desertion remains the only option for many the right of conscientious objection to military service is not respected.
Submission to the 94th Session of the Human Rights Committee: October 2008

has never used conscription in order to recruit its national armed
forces, although at various times armed opposition groups which had
formerly been or were subsequently to form the government were
accused of widespread forced recruitment, including of children,
especially outside Rwandan territory.

National law makes no provision for conscientious objection, and
there are no reports that this issue has yet arisen with regard to
the national armed forces.


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In 1994 a genocide took place in Rwanda, in which an estimated 850,000 people were killed. The genocide ended when the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), the armed wing of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), invaded Rwanda and defeated the government forces (FAR). The RPA are now the official Rwandan armed forces. [5] [9]

1 Conscription

conscription does not exist

Rwanda has no conscription. [8]


The minimum legal recruitment age is 18.


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Newest WRI Women Member

Congratulations to Simone Maria Helwig on becoming the youngest WRI Women's Working Group member! Simone was born December 20, the first child of WRI Women's Working Group coordinator Maggie Helwig and former "Peace News" editor Ken Simons. Congratulations to the happy parents! Maggie and her family will be returning to Canada in a few months, where they will continue their peace work.

African women peace activists were very visible during the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women and the parallel NGO Forum, which took place in Beijing, China, in September 1995. A highlight of the opening ceremony for the NGO Forum featured the presentation of a peace torch by the African Women for Conflict and Peace Project. "The woman is the first person to promote peace, because she is the first victim when there is no peace," said one African activist. Below is a brief sketch of some of the peace work African women are involved in.

March 8 Activities

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March 8, International Women's Day, was celebrated in a variety of ways around the world. In Turkey, the women of Izmir Savas Karsitlari Dernegi (ISKD--the Izmir War Resisters Association) produced Dario Fo's play "The Rape", and held a discussion afterwards with the audience. The women joined with other organizations to march on March 11, rather than March 8, in order to increase participation.

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