Predictably, the government’s policy of sending illegal immigrants to Rwanda for processing has met a first stumbling block: legal challenges have drastically reduced the number of people on the first flight (which was due to leave on Tuesday ) to nearly single digits.
People are perfectly entitled to question the UK-Rwanda partnership on ethical grounds. Some consider the policy ‘extreme’ – and admittedly taking asylum seekers thousands of miles to a ‘third country’ they don’t know is arguably a radical course of action . Yet the most vocal critics are usually the same people who refuse to recognize the need for a streamlined, security-focused and cohesive-enhancing asylum system in nature. The “safe and legal pathways” they tend to propose essentially call for the dismantling of our national borders in the name of maximizing “global welfare”.
But what was particularly telling was the degree of sneer from the liberal left at another member of the Commonwealth. Rwanda has made considerable socio-economic and socio-political progress since the civil war of 1994 which degenerated into veritable genocide. Empowering women has been central to Rwanda’s growth and development. In addition to having the highest rate of women in parliament in the world, Rwanda’s women leaders in the public and private sectors are integral to the country’s goals of becoming a middle-income and high-income country by 2035 and 2050 respectively. .
It is true that Rwanda – like many countries in the world – is not an oasis of liberal democracy. But neither is it the post-apocalyptic hell presented by many opponents of the UK-Rwanda migration partnership. As a relatively new member of the Commonwealth, the degree to which he has been vilified by left-liberal quarters of British politics and media has been grossly unfair.
Ambitious members of the Commonwealth who are on the path to greater social and economic development are too often seen as uncivilized backwaters by those who remain bitter about the impressive level of international respect that Britain continues to command in the world. post-Brexit world. Eurocentric and pro-Brussels fanatics tend to treat emerging African nations as impoverished “third world” outbacks with little or no potential. If such people were successful in foreign policy, Britain would remain locked in an ossified and ineffective bloc, unable to exercise soft power or build strategically meaningful international relations in line with the national interest.
Liberal left bigotry – underpinned by a particularly destructive form of European fanaticism – threatens to undermine Britain’s post-Brexit efforts to cultivate vital security ties in largely non-European associations such as the Commonwealth. Britain today must establish diplomatic relations with the ambitious nation states of Africa in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect. Given the dynamism and human potential of African economies with steadily growing middle classes, stronger strategic engagement with the continent is essential for Britain.
In the words of Rwanda’s High Commissioner to the UK, Johnston Busingye, his country’s criticisms are “outdated” – Rwanda is a vibrant and progressive member of the international community in its own right.
It should be treated as such.