Ethnopolitical Conflict in Rwanda

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Ethno-Political Conflicts: The Rwandan Genocide

The Rwandan Genocide was the systematic murder of members of Rwanda's Tutsi ethnic minority and moderate Hutu sympathizers in 1994. The diplomatic efforts to end the conflict were initially seen as successful but the rising tensions among the population made it difficult to come to a conflict ending agreement. Over the course of about 100 days, from April 6 to mid-July, 1994 at least 500,000 Tutsis, and thousands of Hutus, were the victims of this atrocity. [1] To the extent that governments and nations elsewhere failed to prevent and halt the Rwandan killing campaign, they all share in the shame of the crime. The United Nations staff as well as the three foreign governments principally involved in Rwanda bear added responsibility: the U.N. staff for having failed to provide adequate information and guidance to members of the Security Council; Belgium, for having withdrawn its troops precipitately and for having championed total withdrawal of the U.N. force; the U.S. for having put saving money ahead of saving lives and for slowing the sending of a relief force; and France, for having continued its support of a government engaged in genocide.[2] The United Nations neglect of the Rwandan Genocide, under comprehensive media coverage, drew severe criticism. France, Belgium, and the United States in particular, received negative attention for their complacency towards the extreme Hutu regime's oppressions. Canada, Ghana, and the Netherlands, did continue to provide a force on the ground, under the command of Roméo Dallaire of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), but this mission had little actual power without support from the UN Security Council.[3] Dallaire had 450 ill-equipped troops from developing countries and consistent abandonment. Despite specific demands from UNAMIR's commanders in Rwanda, before and throughout the genocide, its requests for authorization to intervene were refused, and its capacity was even reduced.[4] “All that is needed for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”- Edmund Burke[5] The Rwandan genocide represents a failure not only of the United Nations but also of powerful states to respond to the genocide. In the United States, the Clinton Administration refused to label what was happening in Rwanda genocide out of concern that doing so would create political pressure for the government to respond to a crisis in which the United States had no clear interest. After the genocide ended when Tutsi rebels recaptured Rwandan territory and drove out the Hutu extremists, President Clinton belatedly called what happened “genocide” and, during a brief visit to Rwanda in which he never left the Rwandan airport, made a speech in which he apologized for the failure of the United States and the international community to take stronger preventive measures.[6] Clinton also admitted that, “The people who brought him the information and Congress were still affected by the recent events in Somalia. By the time he personally had gotten more involved and focused more attention it was too late. If the United States had invested just 10,000 troops they could have saved hundreds of thousands of people.”[7] Clinton also stated, “I will always regret not intervening in Rwanda.”[8] Anthony Lake the U.S. secretary of Defense to the Clinton Administration stated, “The issue to intervene in Rwanda just never arose and it should have.”[9] “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere . . . Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” -Martin Luther King Jr.[10] Ethnocentrism is in essence a psychological term, although it is also used generally in the study of society and politics. It can be related to nationalism and racism, but its focus is strictly on the individual’s relationship with an ethnic group rather with a nation or a race. Ethnocentrism gives a general and perhaps even...
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