Help Wanted – How the Un Failed in Rwanda

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Help Wanted World Politics - POLS*1500 Word Count - 1,562 Abstract: This paper aims to questions the United Nations ability to create and maintain peace within a country. This paper will examine the extent of action that the UN commits when a nation encounters internal conflict. Looking at the Rwanda genocide, the paper concludes that the UN is inefficient at creating and building peace. Help Wanted During the twentieth century the world entered into a new sphere of international relations. New technology which led to military advancements evoked countries to act out wars that were unprecedented in past generations.

When their was conflict between nations, it became easier to cause destruction towards the other nation because of new advanced technology, and therefore the brutality of war was far worse. After World War II, which many call the most horrific war of the century, 51 countries came together and formed the United Nations in 1945. This organization set standards for morality so that the world would not have to experience the same brutality that they had faced during World War II. It encouraged cooperation and peace between countries. Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. former American ambassador once said that,“the primary, the fundamental, the essential purpose of the United Nations is to keep peace. Everything it does which helps prevent World War III is good. Everything which does not further that goal, either directly or indirectly, is at best superfluous. ”1 The United Nations was an organization who’s principle was to create an international center of understanding and cooperation. Although this was a clear goal, this was a difficult task for the UN because it involved so many different states and actors.

The Rwanda Genocide is an example of the United Nations inability to fulfill its goal. In the early 1990’s, the nation of Rwanda faced a ruthless internal conflict between two races, the Tutsis and the Hutus. Although these two races had the same religion, culture, and language, they saw themselves as different because of past colonial influences that had ensued this society for decades. 2 Although mass killing were taking place in Rwanda, the UN did not intervene to the extent that was demanded.

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The United Nations’ unclear peacekeeping tactics, lack of resources, and unwillingness to use force during the 1994 Rwanda Genocide led to the murder of over 800, 000 Rwandans and evoked disgrace towards the organization that promised peace. The unfolding events of the Rwanda Conflict had much to do with the hatred that Tutsis and Hutus felt for one another. It was viewed by many as a genocide, but the Security Council of the United Nations had much hesitation accepting that conclusion.

In the Charter of the United Nations, it states in Chapter I, Article 2 that, “ nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state”3. The UN believed that within a nation, the government should control its sedentary conflicts and the organization should not intervene with such matters. However, promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is the UN’s main goal, and therefore the organization should intervene in internal conflicts if they believe these rights are being denied.

This unclear practice caused the UN to make decisions about intervening in the Rwanda conflict for it depended on the basis opinions of the Security Council instead of decisions based on facts4. Because the definition of genocide could not be construed to an individual conflict, it was up to the Security Council and there underlying goals to come to a decision. As thousands of people were being murdered based on their race, the UN unclear peacekeeping regulations held the organization back from acting. This was also seen when Mr.

Waly Bacre Ndiaye, a Amnesty international representative, reported to the UN recommending “a series of steps to prevent further massacres” but the report seemed to be “largely ignored by the key actors within the United Nations”5. By not taking into consideration the opinions of firsthand witnesses of the genocide, the UN disregarded its duty to protect and build peace within this nation. These irresponsible peacekeeping tactics caused the organization to fail in their peaceful pursuits and ultimately led to the death of thousands. Without taking into onsideration Rwanda’s cultural instability and their need for support, the United Nations was therefore unsuccessful. As the conflict in Rwanda continued to progress to a critical state, the UN did not seem to have the resources needed to neutralize and keep the peace within the country. This has to do with the economic expense of peacekeeping. It is believe that “the projected cost of peacekeeping rose from some US $600 million in 1991 to an estimated US $2. 3 billion for 1993”6. States were unwilling to contribute more to the UN because they had other concerns that were higher in national interest.

The United Nations had to ration the support they gave to each cause and therefore the demanded assistance in a nation could not always be met. When the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) was planning their second phase of their mission to create peace, there was “no estimate of the date of further deployment because the necessary additional resources had not been made available”7. Without the proper materials and supplies available to the United Nations, the organizations power to act was limited because of the lack of resources.

It is believed that, “the predicament of the United Nations is the mismatch of large responsibilities and few powers to fulfill them”8 This problem was seen in Rwanda Genocide. The United Nations had so many responsibilities to the world, and yet, the major actors in this organization did not know how to allocate their assistance. The UN’s lack of resources caused a halt in their ability to neutralize the conflict in Rwanda which allowed the massacres to continue, thus, the organization ultimately failed in its peacekeeping pursuits.

The United Nations inability to secure peace in Rwanda had much to do with the organizations unwillingness to use military force. When discussing the Rwanda Conflict, the Canadian Forces stated that, “in order to prevent or suppress the crime of genocide, the necessary international... military will [should have been] marshaled and mobilized”9. Although the UN does not promote the use of military force, and have many steps of peacekeeping before employing this option, the brutality of the Rwanda Genocide could not have been resolved by means of negotiation.

This was seen through the failure of The Arusha Accord. Although all the parties in Rwanda had signed this peace agreement, the negotiations created bitterness and violence between the two groups of people which escalated the conflict10. During the UN’s decisions about the conflict, there seemed to be a “overriding consideration... to avoid entering into a course of action that might lead to the use of force and unanticipated repercussions”11. The UN was unwilling to send troops into Rwanda because of the unforeseen violence that was taking place.

The outcry for help was tremendous, however, the conflict’s escalating tension and violence caused the organization to weigh its obligation to this cause. Once the United Nations created a plan of action to be implemented in Rwanda, the “size of force was far to small to meet the assigned mandate within the increasingly tense conditions”12. Though the United Nations was contributing to creating peace, it lacked the force that was needed. Lieutenant-General[->0] Dallaire “sent [UN] Headquarters a draft of Rules of Engagement... pecifically allowing the mission to act, and even to use force, in response to crimes against humanity and other abuses”13 Headquarters, however, never responded. The fear of the repercussions and losses due to implementing military force in Rwanda caused the violence to continue. Peace could only be implemented in Rwanda if the United Nations used military forces as power. Karl Maier a German author stated that, “in Rwanda, one person's God is another person's Satan”14. The peace needed in the nation would only be achieved by using force and commanding the violence to stop.

The UN’s unwillingness to provide the military forces that were demanded allowed the Rwanda massacres to continue and therefore illustrates the United Nations failure during this conflict. The United Nations failure to bring peace to Rwanda was due to the organizations unclear peacekeeping tactics, lack of resources and unwillingness to use military force. This conflict caused many deaths that could have been avoided if the UN had implemented the proper plans and created clear, logical tactics.

Although the events are tragic, the United Nations “had much to learn, and many adjustments needed to make in applying [peace] in the future”15. The former Secretariat of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, has given public apologizes and leading actors in the Security Council including former American president Bill Clinton, have expressed their regret to act during the Rwanda genocide. The UN has conducted inquiries to try to understand how a conflict of this magnitude could occur without the United Nations having the ability to neutralize the situation. By understanding the causes, the hope is that history will not repeat itself.

The United Nations has taken responsibility for their failure to provide peace within Rwanda. This has led to the organizations credibility to grow in recent years through their work internationally to help build and keep the peace. Although the United Nations did not provide peace in Rwanda, they have had a tremendous affect on the cooperation between different countries. If this international organization can create clear procedures of how to deal with, and when to intervene in internal problems, the United Nations will have more success in their pursuits. Footnotes 1. Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. Quotes,” Think Exist, November 2, 2011, http://thinkexist. com/quotation/the_primary-the_fundamental-the_essential_purpose/344191. html 2. Dixon Kamukama, Rwanda Conflict: Its Roots and Regional Implications Second Edition, (Kampala, Uganda: Fountain Publishers Ltd. , 1997), 3-4. 3. “Purpose and Principles,” in The Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice, ed, United Nations (San Francisco, 1945) 3. 4. Michael Barnett, Eyewitness to Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda, (New York: Cornell University Press, 2003), 2. . United Nations, “Rwanda Genocide and UN’s Contribution”, (Security Council Inquiry, 1999), 7. 6. Neil Riemer, International Peace and Security: The Cost of Waging Peace, (USA: Praeger Publishers, 2000) 63. 7. James S. Sutterlin, The United Nations and the Maintenance of International Security: a Challenge to be Met, Second Edition, (New York: Greenwood Publishing Group Inc. , 2003) 75. 8. Mariano Aguirre, “Power and Paradox in the United Nations,” in Open Democracy (November 2006): accessed October 31, 2011; www. pendemocracy. net/globalization-institutions_government/un_paradox_4073. jsp[->1] 9. “Learning From the Rwandan Genocide of 1994,” National Defense and the Canadian Forces, November 6, 2011, http://www. journal. dnd. ca/vo6/no2/human-humain-eng. asp 10. Dixon Kamukama, Rwanda Conflict: Its Roots and Regional Implications Second Edition, (Kampala, Uganda: Fountain Publishers Ltd. , 1997), 27-30. 11. United Nations, “Rwanda Genocide and UN’s Contribution”, (Security Council Inquiry, 1999), 11. 12. James S.

Sutterlin, The United Nations and the Maintenance of International Security: a Challenge to be Met, Second Edition, (New York: Greenwood Publishing Group Inc. , 2003) 74. 13. United Nations, “Rwanda Genocide and UN’s Contribution”, (Security Council Inquiry, 1999), 9. 14. Karl Maier, Into the House of the Ancestors: Inside the New Africa, (San Francisco:John Wiley, 1998), 273. 15. James S. Sutterlin, The United Nations and the Maintenance of International Security: a Challenge to be Met, Second Edition, (New York: Greenwood Publishing Group Inc. , 2003) 77.

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Help Wanted – How the Un Failed in Rwanda. (2016, Dec 31). Retrieved from

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