Peacemaking in Rwanda: The Dynamics of Failure

Peacemaking in Rwanda: The Dynamics of Failure

Peacemaking in Rwanda: The Dynamics of Failure

Peacemaking in Rwanda: The Dynamics of Failure

Synopsis

Bruce D. Jones is currently special assistant to the UN's special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, based in Gaza.

Excerpt

It is difficult to overstate the scale or brutality of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Between 6 April and 17 July, the Rwandan state engaged in an act of mass carnage against its own population, targeting a minority ethnic group and political opponents. In a mere fourteen weeks, several hundred thousand people—perhaps as many as a million—were gunned down, beaten to death, or literally hacked to pieces by machete, often after being raped, tortured, and forced to watch or participate in the execution of family members. Apart from the killing, almost 4 million people were displaced from their homes—more than 50 percent of the prewar Rwandan population— with 2.3 million of those fleeing the country altogether. The result was the greatest humanitarian crisis of this generation.

The Rwandan genocide was horrific even by the standards of a century repeatedly marred by mass political and ethnic slaughters: of Armenians at the onset of the century; of Jews during World War II; of Cambodians at the height of the Cold War. In the final decade of the twentieth century, mass genocide found its most brutally efficient expression to date in Rwanda.

In early April 1994, the Times of London carried a report about a development in a little-known war in Central Africa, reprinted here in its entirety:

The leaders of Rwanda and Burundi were killed last night when their plane was shot down by a rocket, according to UN officials, as it approached the airport at the Rwandan capital of Kigali.

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