Daniel Halliday
Jul 6 · Last update 4 mo. ago.
Should the UN be held accountable for Rwanda?
With a murder rate five times higher than the Holocaust, did the UN stall interventions enough to be accountable for some of the deaths of the Rwandan Genocide? Should other international parties also be held accountable for their implicit connection to this genocide?
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America stood by and watched despite involvement in other similar civil conflicts around this time
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Belgium’s propagation of tribal & ethnic hatred in colonial times set the stage for this genocide
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If the question is of arming the Hutu government, then Israel is equally to blame
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If the UN can be blamed then France were equally involved also
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Yes, the UN should be held accountable
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The Roman Catholic Church should also be held accountable for harbouring genocide perpetrators
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America stood by and watched despite involvement in other similar civil conflicts around this time

Following the failed American involvement in the Somalian Civil War, Bill Clinton was cautious to do anything to help Rwanda, despite knowledge of a genocide being committed. Bill Clinton even admitted failing and expressed regret over his inaction. The American government therefore favoured preserving its public image above stopping one of the worst genocides of the 20th century.

Furthermore, if we take a step back to look into the ethnic tensions that lead to the Rwandan genocide, there was some US support in these tragic events in the form of aid. But this support was to neither the Hutu government or to the Tutsi lead Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) directly. The RPF have a history that can be traced back to the 1960s, when Tutsi refugees fled violence following Rwandan independence in 1962. The Tutsi refugees that fled to Uganda became embroiled in Uganda’s own tribally charged and often violent political upheavals of the next few decades. Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni’s rebel army took control of the country in 1986 following the Ugandan Bush War, with the support Rwandan refugees who made up a quarter of his National Resistance Army. These battle hardened soldiers gained high ranks in the Ugandan military and government, but went on to form the RPF in 1987 and defected and started the Rwandan civil war in 1990.

On October 1st 1990 as the RPF left Uganda, invading the Northern boarder of Rwanda and setting up camps, they were being supplied via Museveni’s Ugandan government, despite various embargoes and peace agreements. Despite both the US embassy and the CIA being aware of the rising ethnic tensions and the illegal movement of arms across the border, Washington increased both military and development aid to the Museveni government, hailing Museveni as a peacemaker.

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Daniel Halliday
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On October 1st 1990 as the RPF left Uganda, invading the Northern boarder of Rwanda and setting up camps, they were being supplied via Museveni’s Ugandan government, despite various embargoes and peace agreements. Despite both the US embassy and the CIA being aware of the rising ethnic tensions and the illegal movement of arms across the border, Washington increased both military and development aid to the Museveni government, hailing Museveni as a peacemaker.
Belgium’s propagation of tribal & ethnic hatred in colonial times set the stage for this genocide

The precolonial Tutsi Kingdom of Rwanda, that was ceded first to German and then Belgian Colonialism following the First World War, already housed Tutsi-Hutu tensions. The colonisers concreted this antagonism by regarding Tutsi, Hutu and Twa as simply ethnicity, whereas in precolonial times these groups were also part of a complex class system, where rich Hutu could become honorary Tutsi. However Belgium introduced ethnic ID cards and backed Tutsi supremacy, cementing ethnic tensions further. This eventually lead to the Rwandan Revolution of 1959 and the beginning of Hutu-Tutsi Violence.

With numerous theories regarding the origins of the Hutu and Tutsi people groups of Rwanda, it is difficult to know exactly where tension initially arose. Some scholars claim that the Hutu settled in the region after the original Twa minority with Tutsi migrating later to become dominant, but others maintain that migration took place steadily over a long period with Tutsi emerging as a class group over time, but not as a distinctive people group. Either way at the time of the ceding of the Tutsi Kingdom of Rwanda to Germany in 1890, the country already harboured considerable Tutsi-Hutu tensions.

German missionaries and colonisers arrived in large numbers in 1897, mainly trying to affect the tax and farming practices, relying heavily on the native government having little control over the region. They did however also import the idea of ‘race’, espousing the Tutsi ruling class and favouring their features, temperament, and alleged origins as more ‘European’ than the Hutu farmers of the region. The Germans then built their policies in Rwanda around the idea of Tutsi racial superiority.

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Daniel Halliday
Nov 19
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DH edited this paragraph
German missionaries and colonisers arrived in large numbers in 1897, mainly trying to affect the tax and farming practices, relying heavily on the native government having little control over the region. They did however also import the idea of ‘race’, espousing the Tutsi ruling class and favouring their features, temperament, and alleged origins as more ‘European’ than the Hutu farmers of the region. The Germans then built their policies in Rwanda around the idea of Tutsi racial superiority.
If the question is of arming the Hutu government, then Israel is equally to blame

Israel supplied guns, bullets and grenades to the Rwanda's Hutu government throughout the 1990’s, and it is undoubtable that some of these weapons would have been used to carry out the genocide. This trade carried on despite a UN embargo on weapons in Rwanda, thus breaking international law. In 2016 the Israeli Supreme Court ruled to suppress any record of their involvement in Rwanda during this period, further implicating there guilt and accountability in the matter as they understood the relevance of arms supply enough to want to hide it.

Israeli support however seems to coincide with whoever has power in Rwanda rather than any preference, group or government. Paul Kagame's move to rename the Rwandan day of remembrance for the genocide, to make specific reference to “Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda”, was met with international disapproval. Considering the amount of Hutu and Twa people caught up in the violence it was denounced as a move to revise the past, however Israel was one of the few countries to back the decision. The fact that Israel would back a dictator to re-write history in this way speaks volumes, but to then consider the role Israel directly played in that genocide clearly shines yet more light on Israel’s questionable moral conduct.

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Daniel Halliday
Nov 19
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DH edited this paragraph
Israel supplied guns, bullets and grenades to the Rwanda's Hutu government throughout the 1990’s, and it is undoubtable that some of these weapons would have been used to carry out the genocide. This trade carried on despite a UN embargo on weapons in Rwanda, thus breaking international law. In 2016 the Israeli Supreme Court ruled to suppress any record of their involvement in Rwanda during this period, further implicating there guilt and accountability in the matter as they understood the relevance of arms supply enough to want to hide it.
If the UN can be blamed then France were equally involved also

Although responsibility may not be the issue for France, their accountability has been brought up. The French government have even been investigated for supporting and cooperating with the Hutu Government throughout its perpetration of the genocide. They have also been accused of helping to train Hutu militia members, despite knowing of preparations for the genocide.

A number of national and international investigations have been conducted to ascertain the level of French action in Rwanda. The French Parliamentary Commission on Rwanda in 1998, accused the French government of misjudged involvement in Rwanda amidst an environment of ethnic tensions, massacres and violence. The commission failed to accuse France of involvement in the genocide directly, but lead to similar initiatives in Belgium in 1997, and in Rwanda itself in 2008.

This Rwandan sponsored Mucyo Commission also aimed accusations at France for being aware of preparations for genocide and for helping to train Hutu militias before and throughout the genocide. The report went further though, and accused French forces of covert operations and weapons dealing, and of providing protection and shelter to some of the most extreme Hutu militias, again before and during the genocide. It is thought that the French forces were more concerned about the rise of the Tutsi as an anglophonic force in the region, and subsequently delayed cooperation that could have bough a quicker resolution to the killings.

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Daniel Halliday
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This Rwandan sponsored Mucyo Commission also aimed accusations at France for being aware of preparations for genocide and for helping to train Hutu militias before and throughout the genocide. The report went further though, and accused French forces of covert operations and weapons dealing, and of providing protection and shelter to some of the most extreme Hutu militias, again before and during the genocide. It is thought that the French forces were more concerned about the rise of the Tutsi as an anglophonic force in the region, and subsequently delayed cooperation that could have bough a quicker resolution to the killings.
Yes, the UN should be held accountable

Plans for the Genocide were uncovered by the UN forces in Rwanda before the outbreak of the massacre. The UN peacekeeping forces were blocked by the UN security council and by Hutu government when trying to raid weapons stockpiles the government had been hiding. Even following the outbreak of genocide Kofi Annan (then UN under-secretary-general) stalled and waited to let the security council make a decision, even though he understood the attacks to be an act of genocide and was aware that he had the power and clearance to order an intervention.

During this time of indecision Hutu extremists killed ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus wherever they could, with at least 800,000 and some think as much as a million people perishing in just 100 days from 7th April 1994. By the 9th of April UN staff had already witnessed the Gikondo massacre in which 110 Tutsi, including children were murdered with clubs and machetes. The response was one of evacuation, with a 1000 strong force of European soldiers being sent to evacuate Europeans from the region, without aiding the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) stationed in Rwanda as a peacekeeping force. The killings only ended in July, when the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a Tutsi rebel military group, took control of the country.

The UN’s failing in Rwanda goes far beyond their conduct during the outbreak of violence in the country. Former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali was even involved in a weapons deal with the Hutu government 4 years prior to the genocide, when he was Egypt’s minister of foreign affairs, selling weapons that must have been utilised in the genocide. Thus implicating UN officials some accountability for this disaster in all its stages.

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Daniel Halliday
Nov 19
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DH edited this paragraph
During this time of indecision Hutu extremists killed ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus wherever they could, with at least 800,000 and some think as much as a million people perishing in just 100 days from 7th April 1994. By the 9th of April UN staff had already witnessed the Gikondo massacre in which 110 Tutsi, including children were murdered with clubs and machetes. The response was one of evacuation, with a 1000 strong force of European soldiers being sent to evacuate Europeans from the region, without aiding the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) stationed in Rwanda as a peacekeeping force. The killings only ended in July, when the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a Tutsi rebel military group, took control of the country.
The Roman Catholic Church should also be held accountable for harbouring genocide perpetrators

Despite heroic acts of certain religious groups and individuals during the Rwandan genocide, some Priests were directly involved. In the years following the Genocide the Catholic Church actively aided some of these priests in fleeing the area, even helping them assume a new identity and relocate. While not directly advocating the violence, harbouring and covering for genocide perpetrators is especially abhorrent.

One such case is that of Athanase Seromba, a Rwandan catholic priest who was in the Kibuye province of western Rwanda at the time of the genocide. According to charges filed against Seromba in 2002, on the 6th April 1994 he ordered the demolition of his church which at the time harboured persecuted Tutsis, and he personally shot some survivors as they attempted to flee. He was also implicated in the deaths of around two thousand Tutsis, but managed to flee Rwanda in July 1994 with the help of catholic monks who aided him in changing his identity to stay in Florence, Italy. He was found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide and crimes against humanity, for his part in the Rwandan genocide, in December 2006.

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Daniel Halliday
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DH edited this paragraph
One such case is that of Athanase Seromba, a Rwandan catholic priest who was in the Kibuye province of western Rwanda at the time of the genocide. According to charges filed against Seromba in 2002, on the 6th April 1994 he ordered the demolition of his church which at the time harboured persecuted Tutsis, and he personally shot some survivors as they attempted to flee. He was also implicated in the deaths of around two thousand Tutsis, but managed to flee Rwanda in July 1994 with the help of catholic monks who aided him in changing his identity to stay in Florence, Italy. He was found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide and crimes against humanity, for his part in the Rwandan genocide, in December 2006.
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