The Genocide in Rwanda: Who is to Blame? By Maria Chiara Billones Lucatello February 3, 2010 International Relations Mr. Conzemius “A small boy of 11 years, was curled up in a ball of fresh flesh and blood, in his eyes was a glance of lost hope, abandonment, and defeat. He was without vision; A little girl at nine years of age, was pinned up against a tree…her legs apart, and she was covered in things even hell can’t imagine; excrement, urine and blood . . . n her mouth was cold fresh meat, cut with a machete, that of her father… near in a ditch with putrid water were four bodies, cut up in pieces, stacked up-their parents and older brothers. ” When most people think of Rwanda today, the first thing that comes to mind is the 1994 genocide. Certainly, there are many other things that define Rwanda and Rwandans however, understandably, the genocide remains the most clear and dominant aspect of Rwandan life. Three years before independence from Belgium, in 1959 the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi king.
Over the next couple of years, thousands of Tutsis were killed, and about 150,000 were driven into exile in neighboring countries. The children of these exiles later formed a rebel group, which we know now today as the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), who nonetheless, began a civil war in 1990. These wars, along with several political and economic turmoil and ongoing ethnic tensions, had resulted in the April 1994 genocide of roughly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. This genocide happened only a few years ago, and it is still impacting the lives of many people.
How can such crime against humanity be abandoned by the world? Humans run away from fear of believing the truth, people can’t accept and consider what was happening in the small nation of Rwanda, leaders failed to stand forth and stop the brutal monstrosity of the Rwandan Genocide. After 100 days when the genocide had finally reached an end, we cannot help but questions, who is to blame? And the main people to blame are none other than the United Nations (UN). What is Genocide? The word “genocide” did not exist before 1944.
Nevertheless, in 1944, Raphael Lemkin- a Polish Jewish lawyer- formed this world after he sought to describe Nazi policies for the systematic murder, including the annihilation of the European Jews. He formed by combining geno- a Greek word for tribe, and cide- the Latin word for killing. The next year, the International military Tribunal charged top Nazis with “crimes against humanity”. On December 9, 1948, the remembrance of the Holocaust and Lemkin’s word, led the United Nations to approve the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
The Convention established “genocide” defined as: Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: a. Killing members of the group; b. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. It was the first multilateral human rights treaty proposed by the UN for ratification. The United Nations knew that there was a genocide in Rwanda, they were first-handed witnesses during that time, but they failed to accept the reality of the genocide occurring. According to the convention, if there was a genocide taking place, the United Nations has to act and intervene to stop the genocide, nevertheless, they didn’t want to believe there was genocide in Rwanda, however, it was bluntly obvious there was. (Lara, 1998) Another reason why the United Nations is to blame for the Rwanda Genocide is because the United Nations failed to keep peace in Rwanda.
The United Nations main purpose is to keep peace among nations. Though this was a civil war, the United Nations still had to act in order for there not to be a war. Nevertheless, they failed to prevent this ridiculous genocide because of their lack of attempt and lack of effort to stop it. On the fourteenth-anniversary of the genocide, the UN’s thoughts go out to the victims who have been traumatized, hurt, or dead during Rwanda’s Genocide. Quote UN secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s message “It is often those who most need their rights protected, who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists — and that it exists for them. – This message was a little too late after hundreds of thousands of people have been brutally massacred in the genocide in Rwanda. Though the UN seemed to have convinced the people in Rwanda that they were doing their best to stop this, nevertheless, the UN is respectively responsible for their inability to keep peace among the ethnic tribes (Hutus and Tutsis). (M2PressWIRE, 2008) The final reason why the United Nations is to blame for Rwanda’s Genocide is because of the fact that they ignored evidence of planned genocide and abandoned Rwandans in need of protection.
The United Nations failed trying. The independent report, commissioned by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan ( who was in charge at the time of the Rwandan Genocide), says the UN peacekeeping operation in Rwanda was hopeless from the start by an poor consent and destroyed by the Security Council’s unwillingness to strengthen it once the slaughters, murders and rape began. UN officials, together with Annan and then-Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, were incapable, reluctant, or unwilling to act on information that mass slaughter was occurring.
Even if there was uncertain means of genocide occurring in Rwanda, they should have known better and stopped the upcoming genocide that was going to happen. They could have destroyed or stopped all radio stations that were commanding the Hutus to “kill all the cockroaches’” meaning “Kill all Tutsis”, because at that time, the radio was broadcasting news among all Hutus to kill the Tutsis. It seemed pretty ridiculous at that time because you would ask yourself why you would listen to it the first time, nevertheless, the ongoing repetition and continuous orders given by the radio later on became of great influence among the people.
The Hutus were surrounded by lies which they believed to be true, and out of fear of “the enemy” then began killing all Tutsis’ drastically. In 20-30 minutes, about 1,000 Tutsi’s were killed. The U. N knew they couldn’t intervene, yet they could have stopped the Radio from broadcasting horrible lies about the Tutsis’, but the U. N failed to do so. Another reason that supports what the U. N did to abandon the Rwandans is the inability to call for help in Rwanda. 2,000 personnel from several countries; France, United Kingdom, United States and Italy, had come to evacuate their refugees and thought they were tumbling on corpses, they did not hinder and ignored the catastrophe that was occurring. The United Nations did not try hard enough to call for help. It was the Council, especially its most powerful members that had failed the people of Rwanda in their deepest hour of need at the time. It was the United Nations fault that the international community’s culpability for its failure to prevent the genocide in Rwanda. (UN Failed To Prevent Genocide, Report Claims, 1999) In Conclusion, this drastic 1994 mass killing of hundreds of thousands of Rwanda’s Tutsis and Hutus could have been stopped by the U. N.
The purpose of the United Nations is to bring all nations of the world together to work for peace and development, based on the principles of justice, human dignity and the well-being of all people. In 1994, the UN has failed to do their job, and still today, the past cannot be erased. The UN is to blame for the Rwandan genocide because they ignored evidence of planned genocide and abandoned Rwandans in need of protection. There are many other countries and people to blame, but for the mass-slaughtering genocide, the United Nations could have and should have prevented this horrifying episode in history. Works Cited United Nations Has Moral Duty To Act On Lessons Of Rwanda, Says Secretary-General In Message To Mark Fourteenth Anniversary Of 1994 Genocide. ” M2PressWIRE (2008): Newspaper Source. EBSCO. Web. 1 Feb. 2010. Santoro, Lara. “One for the law books: In Africa, a UN court prosecutes genocide. (cover story). ” Christian Science Monitor 13 Mar. 1998: 1. Newspaper Source. EBSCO. Web. 1 Feb. 2010. “Inquiry finds UN failure to halt 1994 genocide. ” Welcome to the United Nations: It’s Your World. Web. 01 Feb. 2010. . “UN Failed To Prevent Genocide, Report Claims. ” UN Wire: Email News Covering the United Nations and the World. Web. 01 Feb. 2010.