The Un and Their Involvement in the Rwandan Genocide

In this paper I will give a brief history of the Genocide in Rwanda, and then I will focus on one key question: What responsibilities did UNAMIR have to help, and did they successfully accomplish those responsiblities? History of Rwanda: After the start of the First World War the Belgians moved eastward and took over Ruanda-Urundi (The colonies that were previously occupied by the Germans). In 1924, the League of Nations officially awarded that land to the Belgians.

The Belgians saw the differences and problems between the Hutus (the lower class farmers) and the Tutsis (mostly upper class herdsmen), and they decided to give control of the country over to the Tutsis. From then on the Tutsis began to abuse their power and they were dominant and abusive to the Hutus. In 1933 all citizens were required to have racial identity cards, which separated the two races even more. July 1962, Ruanda-Urundi gained their independence. The Urundi and Rwanda governments split and each formed separate countries.

Urundi became a monarchy and changed its name to Burundi. Rwanda continued to have ethnic struggles and there was much violence. The first president elected was of the Hutu race. His name was Gregoire Kayibanda; after the election the Tutsis were made out to be the bad guys, and they were blamed for everything. Things continued to get worse for the Tutsis, and in December 1963, after a few Tutsi militias entered into Rwanda, 14’000 Tutsis were brutally murdered. In 1973, Kayibanda was removed from the Government and Juvenal Habyarimana was put in as the new president.

Habyarimana was very much anti-Tutsi and in 1986 he closed the Rwandan boarders to all Tutsis and even moderate Hutus. As opposition to the Habyarimana regime many Tutsi officers from the Ugandan army, grouped up with Rwandan Tutsis and they formed the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front). On October 1, 1990, the officers deserted their army with all weapons and equipment in hand and moved into Southern Rwanda. This act begun what would be 4 years of the worst genocide in history. After the invasion of Southern Rwanda, the RPF moved North-East.

Habyarimana defeated them with the aid of French paratroopers, provided by President Mitterrand. In December of 1990, an extremist newspaper prints “The Hutu Ten Commandments” which show the extreme hatred that the Hutu people had for the Tutsis. From that time on, the slaughtering of Tutsis continued, but there was pressure from many different countries for Habyarimana to make peace with the RPF and the Tutsi people. In 1993, there was a meeting held in Arusha, Tanzania with the hope of bringing peace to all; this was when the “Arusha Accord” was established.

The “Arusha Accord” officially states that the war is over and that the remaining Tutsi refugees may return to Rwanda. The UN is called in to make sure that everything is carried out smoothly and they appoint a chapter 6 peace keeping force, UNIMAR, to see that out. On the 6th of April, 1994, the airplane carrying President Habyarimana and the President of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira, was shot down. Both Presidents were killed. This marked the end of negotiations for peace and, to put it lightly, all hell broke loose in Rwanda.

Between April 6th and the beginning of July, 1994 a genocide occurred that is easily one of the biggest disasters in the history of the civilized world. UNAMIR: The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) was deployed during the time that peace talks were taking place. It was a Chapter 6 UN mission and was sent to keep the peace between the two rivaling groups, oversee government activities, and ensure safety until elections took place. The United Nations Observer Mission Uganda-Rwanda (UNOMUR) also played a role in the mission for Rwanda and they were treated as a Sector within UNAMIR.

UNOMUR was stationed in Kabale, which was on the Ugandan side of the Uganda/Rwanda border opposite the area under RPF control; they were to monitor the flow of men, arms, and supplies from Uganda to the RPF in Rwanda. Their force consisted of MILOBs. A Chapter 6 mission mandate states: “First of all, seek a resolution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their choice”.

That was another major problem, because when the killing was going on the troops were not allowed to defend themselves because they were only there to enforce peace by negotiation and not by way of force, as stated by the mandate. The ROE also stated that the military personnel were to, “Only fire when fired upon. ” UNAMIR was an ill-equipped, undermanned, and severely limited mission. The troops in Rwanda totaled 2’584 people; they had virtually no means of transportation, very limited supplies, and very few weapons.

Most of the equipment that they had was out-dated and virtually unusable. The mission had to put in requests for everything ranging from toilet paper to ammunition; much of which was never provided. This was a large part of what made UNAMIR a complete failure. There was a complete lack of attention to the mission in Rwanda and no country wanted to provide resources to help. The reason that they could get no reinforcements or supplies was because of the unwillingness of Western countries to contribute anything.

The exception to that is Belgium, who contributed most of the troops that were deployed into Rwanda. The different countries around the world saw the mission in Rwanda as a sideshow to the other things that were going on, for example, in the former Yugoslavia, in Somalia, etc. This unwillingness and unconcern was what allowed the Genocide to occur and what facilitated the deaths of 800,000 people in Rwanda. There are many reasons why UNAMIR failed, most of which I have attempted to explain, but it is impossible to point the finger at just one group.

There were many different factors that contributed to the Genocide. UNAMIR itself tried as hard as it could under the limited supplies and the mandate that they had. Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire did what he could with what he had, and he with the small contingent that he had saved the lives of many, but had he been given the things that he needed many thousands more could have been saved. This was not an organization, or a mission that failed; it was the failure of humanity.

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