Thursday (Feb. 20): Diplomacy at its best

Paul Kagame
Yoweri Museveni

Name? Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni

Westphalian Identity? Rwandan and Ugandan

Age? 62 and 75

Why are they in the news? Are they? Certainly not in our news! But international relations are not only taking place in the west simply because western politicians are too busy showing presence at home and fighting Covid-19 “hands-on”.

Why do we care? For the past year, long time allies Paul Kagame (President of Rwanda) and Yoweri Museveni (President of Uganda) were in a little bit of a disagreement with each other. In the past, both leaders helped each other to grasp power in their respective countries. But since February 2019, their friendship has been freezing cold with both sides accusing each other of violating one’s sovereignty. As a result, Uganda closed its border to Rwanda and with this, blocked all exports into Rwanda. 

Last August both leaders met to calm relations, signing a memorandum of understanding. In January, they exchanged captives as a sign of good faith and today, they are meeting again to hold talks and sign another extradition treaty, further easing tensions. 

Why should you care? Diplomacy and negotiations on an “ebenbürtig” (coequal) level do work and are still a very valuable tool in international politics. Something that is too easy to forget in a Trumpian world. 

Who else cares? Their neighbours, the DRC and Tanzania. The DRC because with all the internal struggle it cannot afford more instability at its borders. And Tanzania cares about its economy, which has benefitted from Rwanda importing all its necessities from Tanzania because of the closed border with Uganda.

Any further comments? Kagame might not be the best person in the world and neither is Museveni, but the past few months between the two of them have shown that real diplomacy is not dead yet. Indeed, diplomacy requires long endurance throughout many negotiations where all parties acknowledge and respect each other’s interest. But in return, it does pay off. 

Joshua Dario Hasenstab

General Coordinator