Death of Diplomacy

Topics: Rwandan Genocide, Rwanda, United Nations Pages: 9 (3018 words) Published: May 19, 2013

“The most horrible and systematic human massacre we have had occasion to witness since the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis” 

Undoubtedly, the atrocities in Rwanda almost 16years ago are still considered one of the United Nations’ Security Council’s greatest shortcomings. Since then, so many questions have been raised on their failure to prevent the slaughter of countless victims in what is considered a major genocide in the 20th Century. Despite the fact that part of the blame is also shouldered by the International community and its response, greater emphasis still remains on the Security Council’s lack of humanitarian intervention against obvious crimes against humanity. Using this crisis as a set model, some scholars and policymakers have suggested that it goes to show the shortfalls of the UN using diplomacy as a means of preventing and/or solving disputes. Is the notion of preventive diplomacy truly far-fetched? (The focus will not be on whether or not the UN failed in Rwanda since that perception has already been widely proven and discussed) The purpose of this thesis rather is to examine the 1994 Rwanda Genocide in particular and show that what it really comes down to is the Security Council’s failure to effectively implement some of the basic fundamentals of effective “diplomacy” as outlined in it’s own Agenda for Peace Charter. The problem is not necessarily with the whole idea of preventive diplomacy. Chapter II will introduce the Security Council and briefly explain the Security Council’s role within the UN and stance in relation to Preventive Diplomacy and Humanitarian Intervention. Chapter III covers the Rwanda Genocide itself, discussing the details leading up to it as well as initiatives or approach undertaken by the UN to deal with the situation and the outcomes. Chapter IV concludes the thesis by looking at how the outcomes have shaped similar subsequent incidences. The overall goal of the thesis is to clarify an alternate view from those unenthusiastic about preventive Diplomacy given its shortcomings and finally, explain to a certain degree how regardless of much effort to learn from the Rwanda genocide, the Security Council itself is likely to repeat the same mistakes again.




The United Nation’s Security Council (UNSC) held its first session on the 17th of January, 1946. It is composed of 5 permanent members: China, France, Russia, UK and the US. They hold the most weight or decision making power in the Security Council and have thus garnered such titles as “the great power-club” or “Elite Security Council” by some academics. Furthermore, the same 5 permanent members happen to make up half of the top ten largest arms dealing countries in the worldIt is also composed of ten non-permanent members whom are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms. In terms of scope of functions, it is primarily responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security. It is also responsible for investigating any situation which may lead to international friction and recommend what action should be taken. According to Chapter VI of it’s Charter, the parties to any dispute with "the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security" are encouraged to seek a settlement of their own accord by peaceful means.  Then comes the question: What happens when (and if at all) there an issue of concern arises and the Council deems that a viable threat to peace exists?


Again, this is where the discretion of the Council is wide. They can either continue to press for a peaceful settlement through such means stated before. Sanctions not involving the use of armed forces may be of two kinds. One is the severance of diplomatic relations with one or more of the belligerent states. The other is economic sanctions, including...
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