Yaounde (National Times) – The international community’s response to the civil war in Cameroon’s Southwestern region has at best been lackluster statements for both sides to respect fundamental human rights and seek dialogue. However, as the deaths among Anglophone youths and communities sky rock from the well-equipped and trained military, it is important to ask whether this delay tactics may come back to hunt these powerful countries as in case of Rwanda.
Powerful states have traditional focused on conventional wars. However, over the past two decades, the definition of conventional war or conflict, now includes, “conflicts… treated as threats to international peace and security even if two states are not fighting. Particularly when internal conflicts involve violations of universal norms such as self-determination, human rights, or democratic governance, concerted international actions—including the threat or use of force—are being taken to prevent, conclude, or resolve them just as they sometimes have been for old-fashioned wars. In this sense some conflicts within a country’s borders are being treated as international”.
However, the response of powerful countries especially from the west to these international conflicts have often differ. In some cases, there have been quick intervention with the conflicts posse threat to interest of powerful states like in Libya, in Syria, and in Afghanistan.
In other cases, France and US have delayed any direct military intervention, relying on the delay tactics to avoid reputational and financial costs. For example, international reluctance to directly intervene in the Genocide in Rwanda in the early 90s led to the massacre of over 800,000 Tutsi by the majority Hutus.
In 2010, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy “In carefully worded comments at a press conference with his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame … reiterated his belief that the international community, including France, had suffered from ‘a kind of blindness’ in its response to the bloodshed, which killed more than 800,000 people”. But, keeping to the line normally held by Paris, he refused to take the opportunity to apologise for “political errors” by his country.
“We are not here to have fun, to fiddle with vocabulary,” he said. “What happened here is unacceptable and what happened here forces the international community, including France, to reflect on the mistakes that prevented it from anticipating and stopping this terrible crime.”
Recently, French President Emmanuel Macron called on France to investigate his country’s appalling role in the Rwanda Genocide. Similarly, US President Bill Clinton have continuously been bashed for the US inability to stop the genocide in Rwanda.
The Anglophone conflict which began as a peaceful protest in November 2016, has morphed into a blood bath by the country’s strong military against poorly equipped secessionists. As international and local agencies like the Human Rights Watch have observed hundreds of English speaking youths have been killed by government forces. TO be honest, the separatists have committed dozens of atrocities too, but their military equipment, make not just the secessionist but dozens of Anglophones on the path of brutal military effort to end the conflict using force.
So far, the international community has preferred to stay on the sideline and watch the conflict evolve even as more than 1300 Anglophones have been brutally murdered. In two decades down the lane, the international community may be issuing letters of official apology over their response to this conflict, but will it be too late?