The ten-year anniversary of the Rwandan genocide
The Economist has an article marking the 10-year anniversary of the Rwandan genocide and the lessons learned from it. There’s an interesting contrast between the lessons learned by the “international community” and the lessons learned by the survivors of the genocide: Though they would deny it, Rwanda’s ruling party and its tough-as-kevlar president, Paul Kagame, ...
The Economist has an article marking the 10-year anniversary of the Rwandan genocide and the lessons learned from it. There's an interesting contrast between the lessons learned by the "international community" and the lessons learned by the survivors of the genocide:
The Economist has an article marking the 10-year anniversary of the Rwandan genocide and the lessons learned from it. There’s an interesting contrast between the lessons learned by the “international community” and the lessons learned by the survivors of the genocide:
Though they would deny it, Rwanda’s ruling party and its tough-as-kevlar president, Paul Kagame, have concluded that the only way to guarantee the survival of the Tutsis is to remain in power indefinitely. In many respects, they rule well: Rwanda has seen a remarkable recovery since 1994. But they tolerate no serious domestic opposition, nor much in the way of free speech. Rwanda today is a thinly-disguised autocracy, where dissidents, who are usually accused of genocidal tendencies, live in fear, or exile, or both. The regime is also a menace to its neighbours. It was justified in invading Congo to disperse the génocidaires who were using the place as a base for attacks on Rwanda, but it surely did not have to kill 200,000 people in the process. The rest of the world has learned different lessons from its failure ten years ago. Then, the West’s reluctance to get involved was largely a consequence of America’s shambolic intervention in Somalia the previous year. Since then, the response to all remotely similar emergencies has been guided by a desire not to allow a repeat of Rwanda. Some of the results have been encouraging. NATO eventually checked Serb aggression in the Balkans, though only after the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. British troops ended Sierra Leone’s terrible civil war. Last year, in Congo’s Ituri region, UN peacekeepers found themselves in a position with ominous echoes of Rwanda in April 1994: outnumbered, lightly armed and unable to prevent horrific tribal killings. Instead of cutting and running, Europe sent a French-led force to restore order, with some success. The genocide has also jolted the world into reconsidering how to prosecute mass killers. Ad hoc international tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, though slow and costly, are gradually securing convictions. Several countries have passed laws allowing their courts to try those accused of genocide, regardless of where the crime was committed. The impetus to set up an International Criminal Court sprang partly from the world’s shame over Rwanda. Legally, genocide is oddly defined—why is it worse to seek to eliminate an ethnic group than a socio-economic one? It is also hard to prove. Few cases are as clear-cut as Rwanda’s; Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serb leader, may be acquitted of genocide, though probably not of other grave charges.
UPDATE: Nicholas Kristof points out why this is a far from academic conversation:
For decades, whenever the topic of genocide has come up, the refrain has been, “Never again.” Yet right now, the government of Sudan is engaging in genocide against three large African tribes in its Darfur region here. Some 1,000 people are being killed a week, tribeswomen are being systematically raped, 700,000 people have been driven from their homes, and Sudan’s Army is even bombing the survivors. And the world yawns.
David Gelernter writes in the Weekly Standard about the relevancy of genocide prevention to Iraq as well. Both articles are worth checking out (and thanks to commenters for raising both topics).
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School at Tufts University and the author of The Ideas Industry. Twitter: @dandrezner
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