In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, the Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide and the National Security Archive have launched a new initiative, Failure to Prevent: International Decision Making in the Age of Genocide. The initiative includes the posting of a series of “electronic briefing books” that provide in-depth background to pivotal events before and during the genocide when international action could have made a difference. Explore the books listed below; more will be added in the coming weeks.
On January 11, 1994, General Roméo Dallaire, commander of the UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda, sent a cable to UN headquarters in New York, warning of the impending violence in Rwanda. This “genocide fax” has become a symbol of the failure of the international community to prevent the mass killing.
New English translations of the diplomatic traffic between Brussels and New York on the eve of the Rwandan genocide, along with a series of earlier warnings about the potential for mass violence in Rwanda from US, French, and UN sources, document the passivity of the international community.
Unwilling to bear the burden of shoring up a key African ally all by itself, France sought to internationalize the growing crisis in Rwanda by pushing responsibility onto the United Nations. At the same time, French president François Mitterrand remained suspicious of the Tutsi-led rebels.
In the months leading up to the genocide, UN officials and western diplomats grew increasingly concerned about the region’s refugee crisis but attempts to address it became enmeshed in political infighting inside Rwanda.