Rwanda lobbies for OECD membership.

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With the help of former Israeli officials, Rwanda is lobbying for membership of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

OECD is a 36-member club of the world’s most developed economies.

The Jerusalem Post reported yesterday that Israel former Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein and former ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, are working hard to see Rwanda join the club.

During his visits to Rwanda as Attorney-General, Weinstein developed a good relationship with President Paul Kagame.

When Weinstein left office, he and Prosor held talks with Kagame and Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo as Rwanda was weighing in joining the OECD.

The Israelis helped their country join OECD in 2010.

Joining the OECD would foster Rwanda’s development and foreign investment.

“We all saw eye to eye. They showed enthusiasm that Rwanda should go for it. After very little time had passed, they hired us. They said, ‘you have experience, you did it in Israel, you can get it done for Rwanda,” Weinstein told The Jerusalem Post of the talks he had with Kagame and Mushikiwabo.

He said that, after the 1994 Genocide that devastated Rwanda, the country’s economy and political situation have stabilised, adding that attracting foreign investors is now Rwanda’s high priority.

Weinstein said that for Rwanda to hire him and Prosor also proved the country’s serious commitment.

If Rwanda joins OECD soon, it may be the first African country to be in the organisation.

South Africa tried to join but its methods of governance hindered the bid.

Weinstein said that they have already started to lobby allies on behalf of Rwanda.

He said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria also views the potential of Rwanda joining the same way that the Israeli does.

“He wants to broaden the OECD. He really wants African countries to join. He tried hard with South Africa,” said Weinstein referring to OECD SG.

He, however, predicted that joining OECD can take Rwanda more than five years as the process also took Israel more than three years.

Talking of Rwanda’s potentials, Weinstein described Kigali as a Western-style city, saying that Kigali is “orderly, developed, clean and secure.”

Weinstein said Rwanda has gone beyond the genocide effects to embrace “a genuine forgiveness process,” contrary to Israelis who say about the Holocaust: “We don’t forget and we don’t forgive.”

He said that in Rwanda the approach is: “We don’t forget, but we do forgive.”
Weinstein plans to help Rwanda move toward OECD acceptance by encouraging a free market, democracy, transparency and the rule of law.

This entails a five-part strategy proving Rwanda’s sufficiency of its internal laws, independence of its state prosecution and judiciary from political influence, the stability of its banks and a readiness to comply with international conventions.

Weinstein has legal review assistance by veteran attorney Ron Dror and law clerk Yael Hadad. The team is now advancing Rwanda’s OECD bid.

“Africa is the only continent not represented in the OECD, and I think everyone should applaud Rwanda [for] its desire to break the barrier and become the first African country to join the organisation,” said Prosor.

He added that joining OECD would be of mutual interest for both Rwanda and international community as other African countries can follow Rwanda’s lead in joining the club which requires highest international standards.

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