For the twelfth annual session, Vancouver Model United Nations is pleased to invite the Honourable Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire to deliver a keynote address.
Dallaire served as the Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, a peacekeeping mission that sought to maintain stability between the country’s two largest ethnic groups, the Tutsis and Hutus, as a government was established. However, catalyzed by the sudden assassination of the President, the building tension boiled over, ultimately leading to open genocide waged against the Tutsis by Hutu radicals.
Dallaire and the 260 soldiers under his command attempted to protect innocent lives and defuse the situation, despite severe resource constraints and a lack of support from an international community that was recovering from losses in Somalia and thus reluctant to commit resources to another conflict. Dallaire’s efforts saved over 32,000 Tutsi and Hutu moderates; however, over 800,000 civilians were killed before the world finally listened and agreed to bolster UNAMIR’s capabilities.
These disturbing experiences haunted Dallaire long after he returned home. He blamed himself for the failure of UNAMIR to stop the genocide and developed post-traumatic stress disorder, becoming depressed and suicidal.
However, Dallaire managed to make a full recovery and, in 2005, was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Paul Martin as a representative of Gulf-Québec in recognition of his work. Dallaire has also been inducted into the Order of Canada, the National Order of Québec, and the Order of Military Merit. Today, apart from his senatorial duties, Dallaire is a well-known author and spokesman for human rights.