Panel 2: The Lessons of Rwanda and Bosnia: the Political Reponse
RUTH B. MANDEL: Good afternoon. Welcome back, everyone. We are missing one of our commentators; we’re hoping she’ll arrive shortly, but we wanted to begin the program since we have a full afternoon, and we will welcome the Congresswoman when she joins us.
I’m Ruth Mandel from Rutgers University. Since 1993, I’ve also been the vice chairperson of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. During that time I chaired the exploratory group, which developed the proposal to establish a Committee on Conscience as part of the Council. I also had the privilege of serving as the founding chairperson of the Committee on Conscience.
We all pray that our vision for this committee can be realized. Alongside other organizations and individuals working to protect and shift humanity away from its ugliest impulses, may this museum find ways to contribute to preventing and halting genocide and crimes against humanity. We are in the unique position to offer a moral platform together with voices of memory and a call for a behavior guided by conscience. Of course the Museum can serve as an unparalleled source of information and a force for education.
I’m very pleased that Tom invited me to participate in this inaugural conference, which examines the daunting issues of warning signs and methods of prevention.
This morning, we heard about the development of law and legal procedures for addressing the behavior of the dark side of the human heart. As we were reminded, achieving justice, the development of law, both its adoption and enforcement, are profoundly affected in the words of one of our presenters this morning -- profoundly affected by politics.
This afternoon, we’ll hear about the political response to events in Rwanda and Bosnia, with particular emphasis on crimes against humanity and genocide. Our outstanding panel of paper presenters and commentators has been asked to reflect on how these crimes could have been prevented and how the United States and the international community should confront similar events in the future.
To begin the session we will hear from two distinguished and knowledgeable presenters. First, Professor Tibor Varady brings to us his knowledge as an academic, a professor of law at many universities for over three decades, the author of many books and articles. That academic expertise is combined with his experience more recently on the government side, in the political world as Minister of Justice for Yugoslavia in 1992 and 1993.
The Honorable Theogene Rudasingwa is Ambassador to the United States for the Republic of Rwanda. He brings to his diplomatic role a recent history of military experience in Rwanda as well as a background of training as a medical doctor. He’s written and spoken extensively about Rwanda’s confrontation with genocide.
1. Understanding and misunderstanding multiculturalism
In August 1998, I read in the Belgrade daily “Dnevni Telegraf,” that in the Bosnian town of Gornji Vakuf a multicultural bus station is about to be constructed. I was taken aback by this rather spendthrift bestowal of a precious qualification. Further reading of the text did not offer much explanation. What was said was that a multicultural bus station will be opened soon in Gornji Vakuf. The odd combination of words may yield two conclusions: a sad one, and a more optimistic one.
The sad inference is that in a country which been multicultural for centuries one feels a sudden loss of orientation. For people who became acquainted with the subtleties of the concept through experience, who have been keenly aware of the importance of balance, of the need to allow equal opportunities to ethnic groups and cultures in different realms of life, a bus station accessible to more cultures and ethnic groups can hardly sound as a multicultural achievement. Over many years, preceding the devastation of the nineties, an acute sensitivity for ethnic balance was developed, which resulted in a way of life and in a particular awareness. To cite just one small example, in Tito’s Yugoslavia the major Sarajevo daily Oslobodjene appeared with alternating print: one page had Cyrillic, the other Latin letters. More importantly, the “national key” was scrupulously observed in the composition of authorities at all levels. But this was before ethnic cleansing appeared as another option. It is odd but conceivable that after years of escalating hatred during which tens of thousands lost their lives and hundreds of thousands lost their homes the standard was lost. All questions are open again, no criteria settled, and a bus station which is not reserved for one ethnic group only deserves to be mentioned as some kind of multicultural achievement.
But there is another possible inference. It is quite possible - and even likely - that those who concocted the term did not think themselves that this was particularly subtle or fitting, but they wanted international financial support, and here, “multicultural projects” enjoy a clear priority. The local authorities wanted a bus station and they added the label “multicultural” hoping that this would smooth the way of their demand for money. This does not sound like true loyalty towards diversity, but it signals a formidable step forward compared with the years of war in Bosnia. Five years ago no member of the (Serbian) local authorities in Gornji Vakuf would have wanted or dared to couch their rhetoric towards money, if this was not in harmony with sacrosanct national (nationalistic) objectives. The use - even if it is to some extent abuse - of multiculturalism for practical purposes signals a more matter-of-factly attitude, which allows a larger maneuvering room in the shaping of future options.
Let me cite another recent use (or misuse) of the term multiculturalism. In July 1998 France celebrated a victory. Judging by the magnitude of exhilaration this may have been the most important national victory after World War II. France won the world championship in soccer. Besides many athletic and strategic reasons behind the French conquest, quite a few commentators noted the multicultural composition of the French team. It included players from Senegal, New Caledonia, Armenia, Algeria; the diversity was extended to Arabs and Blacks. According to the Baltimore Sun of July 14, 1998: “Fortunately for the glory of France and of President Jacques Chirac, who beamed at the awards, accepting all credit, Coach Jacquet and not the racist National Front decided who played.” I read in the Croatian Novi List on July 14, 1998 (which is citing Anne Swardson and the Washington Post) that “the multicultural team is winning!” I have no doubt in my mind that the composition of the French team reflected a healthy absence of xenophobia, and that the victory of the team including a substantial number of immigrants serves as a mighty argument against anti-immigration policies of Le Pen. There is no better way to show that diversity is in the national interest of France. But is this multiculturalism? President Chirac greeted and thanked Zinedine Zidane, an ethnic Algerian and the hero number one of the French team, and this was the right thing to do - and nice to watch too. It was understood and underlined that Zidane deserves the dignity of a successful Frenchmen, and he deserves a “merci” from the President of the Republic. This is fine. But is this multiculturalism? Zidane’s mother tongue in Arabic. “Thank you” in Arabic is shoukran. Did Zidane - and multiculturalism - deserve a “shoukran” in addition to “merci”? As a matter of fact, when Monica Seles won the French Open, the Belgrade TV thanked her on behalf of the citizens of Yugoslavia, and with a commendable effort, the TV anchorman said “koszonom!” (Which is “thank you” in Hungarian.) Let me add that Monica belongs to the Hungarian minority in the Vojvodina (1), she went to Hungarian elementary school in Novi Sad, her late father was the cartoonist of the Hungarian daily Magyar Szo. Her name is actually Monikia Szeles (pronounced: “Selesh,” which means “windy” in Hungarian). Multiculturality did not function, however, when her Yugoslav passport was issued. Her family name was written following Serbian orthography, and it became “Seles” (with an accent on the second “s”, which makes is “sh”). The apostrophe got lost during her contacts with a new culture and new administration - the American one. So she became “Seles.”
The point is that the misgivings in approaching the precept of multiculturalism in the postwar and post-Dayton Bosnia cannot easily be dispelled - and this job receives only a limited help from the US and West European thinking. Traditional liberal theories are most reluctant to consider group identities, Of course, to speak of “US and West European thinking” is a generalization which can hardly outlive one sentence in a manuscript. There are, of course, various consequential opinions on multiculturalism, on diversity, and on group rights. The fact is that in this realm its pretty difficult to discern a “Western model” and to propose it for acceptance in the Balkans - much more difficult than in domains like freedom of press, freedom of speech, or market economy. Let me just point to some most recent randomly selected US-based thoughts and developments. In his book The Unmaking of Americans: How Multiculturalism Has Undermined America’s Assimilation Ethic (2), J. Miller comes up with some proposals, including the elimination of bilingual education, bilingual ballots, and affirmative action (3). (For a possible reader in the former Yugoslavia let me make it clear that the proposal to eliminate bilingualism does not mean that Mr. Miller stands for multilingual education or ballots). In the book Someone Else’s House: America’s Unfinished Struggle for Integration (4), T. Jacoby admits that ethnic pride is justified, but believes that group pride must be excluded from the public realm. Let me add California’s Proposition 227 about ending bilingual education. My Lexis search for reactions to Proposition 227 yielded a column by Charles Krauthammer, who argues that “the problem today is not unassimilable immigrants but an American educational elite that, in the name of ethnic authenticity and multiculturalism, would like them to be unassimilable. Hence the imposition of such devices as bilingual education - a euphemism for slighting and delaying English instruction - that not just celebrates, but perpetuates ethnic separatism.” (5)
I was looking for examples which would demonstrate a basically negative attitude towards multiculturalism. It was not difficult to find them. Finding opposite examples would not be too difficult either. Both multiculturalism and assimilation ethics are within the spectrum of civilized options in the US (6). Not within Bosnia and Herzegovina. In a completely different historic environment, the views such as those of Mr. Miller or Mr. Krauthammer, just as the California proposal, could only yield civil war, ethnic cleansing, ethnic partition at best. Multiethnicity in Bosnia did not result form recent immigrants. Over centuries people did not move. Frontiers did, occasionally. The Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe are full of family histories the punch line of which is that every generation was born in a different country, although they were all born in the very same house. (This happens to be the story of four generations of my own family). This puts adherence to one’s one language and culture into a different perspective. If your children are going to a Lithuanian School in the town where both you and your children were born, and one day this town becomes Polish territory, your reasons and you claim for continued Lithuanian language education are quite strong - much stronger than when you leave your town (and native Lithuanian environment) for economic reasons and join a new environment let us say in Germany, or in the US. What is also most important, in Bosnia, assimilation does not mean deference to a common denominator (like that of being an American), but surrender to a historic rival. And this is not restricted to Bosnia. The Italian language is not a common denominator for Italians and Germans (Austrians) in South Tyrol; the Serbian language is not the common denominator for Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo (neither is the Albanian language). On the territories of the former Yugoslavia, centuries have shown that one language and one culture can only be imposed by force. Patriotism, loyalty to the country as a whole, was very much possible, but only on the assumption that one’s culture is included rather than excluded from the spectrum of publicly recognized values and symbols. There have been common symbols too, and sport has, once again, played an important role. Before Yugoslavia fell apart, one of the political parties which opposed the break-up (the Reformist Party) chose as its political poster in the 1990 elections a photo of the Olympic champion Yugoslav basketball team, with a suggestive caption: DO YOU WANT TO DISBAND THIS TEAM?
Most people were proud of the Yugoslav basketball payers, it was gratifying to belong to a country which is an Olympic champion in basketball, but the team was nevertheless disbanded.
One may have some doubts as to whether it is possible at all to reestablish a viable Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have no doubt on my mind, however, that if this is possible, this could only be a multicultural country. Bosniacs, Serbs and Croats could only live in one country if they have an option to remain Bosniacs, Serbs and Croats. Their striving for quality clearly and strongly includes the endeavor to become equal by maintaining an equal right to remain different. The remaining option is ethnic partition and its most efficient vehicle: ethnic cleansing.
The problem is that it is a tremendous task to build a multicultural coexistence on the ground of the present realities. What aggravates the situation is that the issue is not sufficiently recognized either. The present (Dayton) Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina which was drafted on Western drawing boards, does not address at all the issue of plurality of languages and cultures. The human rights and fundamental freedoms enumerated in Article 3 contain a standard list including even some items bearing a historic hallmark, like “the right not to be held in slavery” (7); the list includes the “right to education” but misses the real issue, that of the language of education. “Freedom of expression” is granted, which should be interpreted to encompass free private media in any language, but this principle hardly offers guidance in addressing the true bone of contention: the language of state financed media.
2. The solution in Tito’s Yugoslavia
Constitutions which were enacted in Tito’s Yugoslavia - both federal and constitutions of the six constituent republics and of the two autonomous provinces - did address the issue of plurality of languages and cultures. For example, Article 171 of the 1974 Yugoslav Constitution contained the following provision:
“Members of nationalities shall, in conformity with the constitution and statute, have the right to use their language and alphabet in the exercise of their rights and duties and in proceedings before state agencies and organizations exercising public powers. Members of nations and nationalities of Yugoslavia shall, on the territory of each republic and/or autonomous province, have the right to instruction in their own language in conformity with statutes” (8).
The principles of the Constitution were elaborated in a fair number of statutory rules, and represented an important foothold of multiculturalism. In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia these rights have been radically curtailed (9). In Bosnia, legal regulation of multiculturalism has also declined.
What is equally, or even more important, is that other instruments of multiethnic coexistence which yielded fair results in the former Yugoslavia, have all but vanished. I remember the embarrassment when during the first year of the Milosevic “antibureaucratic revolution” a new committee of the Communist Party was elected in hometown of Zrenjanin. It turned out that none of the more than fifty elected members belonged to the “nationalities.” Zrenjanin (its earlier name was “Becskerek”) was a very much a multiethnic town during the lat centuries. Up until recently no ethnic group had absolute majority in it. During and after World War II its diversity was reduced (10), but in addition to Serbs, which became a clear majority, a strong Hungarian minority, and a significant number of Slovaks and Rumanians remained. The bottom line is that no leadership of the city (communist, anticommunist, or other) was ever monoethnic. There was a strong awareness of the fact that some ethnic balance represents the main ingredient of peace, and this cognizance has been consistently translated into practice. Some balance was observed even under Nazi occupation, even during the rigid years of communist rule. Of course, those Hungarians or Slovaks who were elected to public functions in a one-party system were not necessarily those Hungarians or those Slovaks who enjoyed respect and support among the members of the given minority - but the same applied to Serbs as well. Nevertheless, it was quite important that the principle of balance itself was not attacked.
The monoethnic party committee in Zrenjanin in 1988 came as a shock to many, a surprise even to the partisans to the “antibureaucratic revolution.” What happened was that the departure of Tito, coupled with the dramatic changes in Eastern Europe yielded a void. In Tito’s time ethnic balance and multiculturalism were sacrosanct precepts (together with self-management, non-alignment in foreign policy, an “the vanguards role of the community party”). All of a sudden, the whole architecture of precepts and dogmas crushed. As far as multiculturalism and ethnic balance is concerned, in the course of history, these ideals were professed by progressive thinkers in Central Eastern Europe, but these also belonged to the agenda of successful rulers, or even dictators (11). Rulers may not have been guided by ideals of ethnocultural justice, but they knew that in an environment of ethnic rivalries group-neutral equality is always hijacked by the majority, and invariably yields conflict. In Tito’s case, relying on majority dominance was simply not an option, because he did not belong to the majority nation in Yugoslavia.
We had an imperfect, half-democratic balance - and a respectable stability over 40 years. The official slogan of “Brotherhood and Unity” may have been perceived by many as a zealous overstatement and an unnatural imposition, but there was nothing unnatural about the steadily growing rate of mixed marriages. Decade after decade the precepts of multiculturalism and ethnic balance were followed, and became part of a culture. Before Milosevic’s “antibureaucratic revolution” in the lovely park of the Zrenjanin city hall loudspeakers often disturbed the visitors with a choice of raucous neo-popular Serbian music, but this was dutifully followed by equally distasteful Hungarian and Slovak pieces. What irritated me then, has become now one of the hallmarks of a golden age.
When culture was not functioning, party discipline stepped in. Democracy was quite often supplemented (or replaced) by “consultations.” It is difficult to say how many of our multicultural rules of behavior were following genuine instincts, and how many just mirrored an adjustment to the party line, but it is clear that the chemistry which worked encompassed a mixture of the two.
What happened in the last ten years is that both ingredients of the formula vanished. The bizarre uneasiness with the results of the Zrenjanin elections which was shared by the very actors, and by non-party members as well, had behind it a fear of a vacuum. Not only the Yugoslav state, the Yugoslav society was losing its foundations. Everything became possible. The war, too. Ethnic cleansing became an accepted rival to multiculturalism.
3. The present options
One of the recurring laments I hear both from friends belonging to the rival ethnic factions in Yugoslavia, and from friends aboard who had known Yugoslavia, is expressed in the question: “How is it possible that people who lived together peacefully for decades, who intermarried, who shared apartments, now cannot share a country anymore?” Part of the answer is, of course, that the cohabitation was never ideal. I also hear the argument that inter-ethnic relations in Yugoslavia were not really solved. This may be true, but this is hardly pertinent. I do not believe that interethnic relations can ever be solved. They need constant attention.
I think that the crux of the explanation is in the fact that the elements of the formula are gone. There is no Tito and his communist party anymore with vested interests in multiculturalism and ethnic balance, and the culture of mutual deference is all but gone after years of escalating hatred and bloodshed. New pillars of support are needed.
At this point is if difficult to see any other instrument but law. Legal regulation might offer a chance, but only if it devotes more (rather than less) attention to multiculturalism and ethnic balance than the rules devised in the former Yugoslavia. The transplant of a standard Western model will not do. One man one vote is fine (particularly if it extends to any person without discrimination), but in Bosnia, Serbs will not vote at all if the ballots are printed only in the Latin alphabet, while Croats and Bosniacs will not vote if the ballots are printed in Cyrillic only. Only those concepts of equality have a chance, which have built-in sensors for cultural and ethnic diversity. This means that mainstream group-neutral rules (which could still make the bulk of legal regulation ) need to be supplemented by group-sensitive norms. One can only hope that with time culture will regain its provinces, and part of the group-sensitive norms will become dispensable.
My suggestion is that this angle of the problem has by and large been overlooked. What adds to the difficulties is the fact there is a pattern which has plagued the sequence of events of the Yugoslav crisis. Problems were addressed by various actors of the international community only when these problems passed the threshold of any tolerance, when they became an outrage - and when they became most impossible to solve. At such a moment the problem was addressed at the critical location without much regard to the consequences of the severance of issues which were closely interlinked. This resulted in the fact that disasters of the same type continued to emerge in sequence. The tragedy of Croatia, the tragedy of Bosnia, the tragedy of Serbs in Croatia, now the Kosovo impasse. It did not take much foresight to know that what happened in Croatia in 1991 will probably be repeated in Bosnia in 1992. The Kosovo problem was hardly a hidden one before it reached the level of international attention. Each time, it appeared that attention accorded to anything short of an outrage would only “distract attention from the main problem.” And each time, an opportunity for prevention was missed. The fates of the Vojvodina and Sandzak my join this sequence.
One of the consequences of the approach described above is the fact that experiments with the new formula of multiethnic coexistence always took place after, rather than before bloodshed. By all logic endeavors to find a new prescription would have had a much better fighting chance in Bosnia before the bloodshed. The elucidation of a model which could replace the Tito formula would have a better chance today in Macedonia or in the Vojvodina, where multiethnic fabric has not been completely torn yet. Unfortunately, very little - if any - international attention has been focused in this direction.
Two legal documents sponsored by actors of the international community have attempted so far to face the issue of multiethnic balance and multicultural coexistence as alternatives to ethnic partition: an act in force, the (Dayton) Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a proposal with a questionable future, the Interim Agreement for Kosovo (known as the Hill document) (12).
The present Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina emerged as Annex IV of the Dayton Agreement. It has become a most important framework of a precarious peace, but it may also be perceived as a missed opportunity. As it was submitted in this essay, the provisions of the Constitution devoted to human rights and fundamental freedoms do not tackle the most important issue of linguistic and cultural rights, and make no attempt to chart cultural diversity.
The issue of ethnic balance is addressed. The question is whether this was done the best way (13).
In the last paragraph of the Preamble of the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is stressed:
“Bosniacs, Croats, and Serbs, as constituent peoples (along with Others) and citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina hereby determine that the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina is as follows:…”
This sentence may not be a rule in the stricter sense of the word, and it certainly demonstrates some rhetoric generosity while it qualifies the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina as framers of the Constitution, but at the same time it points to the core of the problem. There are three nations which claim (and probably deserve) a special position in all settlements, there are “Others” who must not be left without rights, and all of them are citizens entitled to civil rights. These rights and claims are not easy to reconcile - and have not been reconciled.
The notion of “constituent people” has not been clarified, but a number of articles recognize special group rights of Bosniacs, Serbs, and Croats. Completely missing is, however, any attempt to harmonize these rights with the principle of non-discrimination between equal citizens. The Constitution has simply juxtaposed principles and declarations, reaching some sort of a rhetoric balance, but stopping short of real accommodation. Article II (4), speaking of non-discrimination, states that enjoyment of rights and freedoms “shall be secured to all persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, color, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority property, birth or other status.” After this, however Article IV (1) states that the House of Peoples shall comprise 15 delegates, specifying that these will include five Croats, five Bosniacs, and five Serbs. Article V is equally direct and brusque: it states that “the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina shall consist of three members: one Bosniac and one Croat, each directly from the territory of the Federation, and one Serb directly elected from the territory of Republika Srpska.” This juxtaposition of mutually exclusive precepts threatens to transmute legal norms into empty slogans. How can one believe in the principle of non-discrimination, if a Serb from the Federation, just as a Bosniac or a Croat from the Republika Srpska do not even have a theoretical chance of being elected to the House of Peoples, or to become a member of the Presidency; and when citizens who are neither Bosniacs, nor Serbs, nor Croats (but, let us say, Jews, or Hungarians, or Ukrainians, or Romas) can simply not be elected to any of these authorities within the country of which they are (in principle) equal citizens with equal rights. It is plain that the viability of Bosnia is unthinkable without some constitutional guarantees which would strike a balance between the three nations which represent the backbone of Bosnia (and of the conflicts within Bosnia). But there are more subtle methods which would not fly into the face of other constitutional principles, and which could provide some room for the idea of equal citizens. Group-sensitive rules are not necessarily irreconcilable with general notions of equality, but the adjustment has to be effected. A possible approach would be to define constituencies (instead of predetermining the outcome of the elections). It could be quite sufficient to say, e.g., that the Republika Srspka elects five members of the House of Peoples, and one member of the Presidency. There is absolutely no reason to add that these people have to be Serbs. They will probably be Serbs, considering the ethnic structure of the voters; opening a chance to non-Serbs would not jeopardize the interests of Republika Srpska. The situation is somewhat more complicated within the Federation, but even here, a solution is possible. (One could, e.g., identify cantons with Bosniac majority and cantons with Croat majority a voting units, and one could allocate the desired number of slots to cantons or groups of cantons).
To give another example, it is really difficult to perceive, why was it necessary to pronounce in Article VII that the first Governing Board of the Central Bank shall include (in addition to members nominated by the IMF) three members nominated by the Presidency, one Bosniac, one Croat, and one from Republika Srpska. Again the balance between the “three constituent peoples” could have been achieved in a more subtle way, allowing, e.g., each member of the Presidency to nominate one member of the Governing Board of the Central Bank. It is quite likely that for a while political realities will yield choices which will mirror the ethnic composition of the Presidency, but there is no reason to cement this into a constitutional norm (which is clearly contrary to the principle of non-discrimination underlined in Article II of this very same Constitution). Moreover, even on the ground of the present realities, one can very well imagine that some of the members of the Presidency were ready to nominate a trusted expert who would belong, let us say, to the “Others.”
The structure of the Hill Plan (Draft Interim Agreement for Kosovo) represents a step forward in the sequence of efforts to observe and chart multicultural coexistence. My short remarks shall be restricted to structural characteristics, rather than to specific delimitations of power hotly contested between Serbian authorities and Albanian groups. What is important is that this draft recognized the necessity to treat “national communities” as addressees of rule. The Chapter on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Chapter III), is supplemented with a new chapter reflecting a new cognizance of realities. While Chapter III contains a list of human rights which corresponds almost word by word to the enumeration contained in Article 3 of the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the new element is Chapter V devoted to “Rights and Duties of National Communities.” These special rights include:
- the right to use one’s own language and alphabet;
- providing information in the language and alphabet of the national community;
- establishing educational, cultural and religious associations for which relevant authorities will provide financial assistance;
- the right to unhindered contacts with respective national communities outside the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia;
- using and displaying national symbols;
- and a number of other group-sensitive rights.
One might raise the issue whether these rights are rightly labeled as “additional rights” distinguished from “equal rights,” or whether the general notion of equality should encompass equality of fostering different cultural identities. The important thing is to recognize the significance of an added angle, and to concede that a viable alternative to ethnic cleansing cannot be structured without group-sensitive norms.
The task is momentous, and the bulk of it is ahead of us. Under the present circumstances it presumes to expansion of legal regulation to realms which do not typically belong to the domain of law. Goethe wrote that “Wo das Gesetz nicht hilft, da muss die Klugheit rathen” (14). In Bosnia, and throughout the former Yugoslavia the instruction has to be reversed. We shall have to try to put law (at least temporarily) in the place of badly missing sensibility.
- One of Serbia’s two provinces - the other is Kosovo.
- John J. Miller, The Unmaking of Americans: How Multiculturalism Has Undermined America’s Assimilation Ethic, Free Press, 1998.
- Miller, Op. cit. particularly pp. 132-134, 203, 205-208, 240-242.
- Tamar Jacoby, Someone Else’s House: America’s Unfinished Struggle for Integration, Simon and Schuster, 1998.
- Charles Krauthammer, “Immigrants Provide Magic Cure for US,” Anchorage Daily News, July 28, 1998.
- Among scholarly writings on the issue see Juan F. Perea, Demography and Distrust: An Essay on American Languages, Cultural Pluralism, and Official English, 77 Minn. L.R. 269 (1992); Frank M. Lowry, Comment, Through the Looking Glass: Linguistic Separatism and National Unity, 42 Emory L.J.223 (1992); Note, “Official English”: Federal Limits on Efforts to Curtail Bilingual Services in the States, 100 Howard L.R. 1345 (1987).
- In addition to the “more modern” right against forced or compulsory labor.
- According to the terminology of the 1974 Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, “nations” are the founding Slavic nations of the Yugoslav Federation, i.e., Serbs, Croats, Moslems, Slovenes, Macedonians, and Montengerins, while “nationalities” are the ethnic minorities. The languages of the two largest minorities (Albanians and Hungarians) were included among the official languages in which the federal statutes were published. One of the distinguishing criteria between “nations” and “minorities” was that “nationalities” like Albanians, Hungarians, Slovaks, Rumanians had a nation outside Yugoslavia, while “nations” were groups which did not have a state outside Yugoslavia, but were minorities everywhere else. This criteria was consistently observed in most, but not in all cases. Ruthenians e.g. were “nationalities,” although they do no have a state elsewhere.
- See Varady, “Minorities, Majorities, Law and Ethnicity: Reflections of the Yugoslav Case,” 19 Human Rights Quarterly 9 (1997).
- During the World War II Nazi occupation the Jews vanished, after World War II the German minority disappeared.
- Several consecutive drafts of this Agreement were submitted by Christopher Hill, US Ambassador to Macedonia.
- The following observations on constitutional instruments for the preservation of ethnic balance represent an edited version of three pages of my manuscript cited in footnote 9.
- Where the law does not help sensibility should give advice.
THEOGENE RUDASINGWA: The conference, “Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity: Early Warning and Prevention,” takes place to commemorate the 50th Anniversaries of the Genocide Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The organizer, the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, has asked me to share with the participants my reflections on how the international community should have confronted the Rwanda genocide and how it might prevent similar crimes.
The last five decades since the Genocide Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have been, on the one hand, a period during which the frontiers of justice and respect for human rights have extended to many parts of the world. At the same time, it is very hard not to appreciate the gross human rights abuses that have exacted a heavy toll on diverse populations in many parts of the world, occasionally culminating in extreme cases of genocide, as was the case in Rwanda. The fact that this conference takes place at the United State Holocaust Memorial Museum and is attended by distinguished diplomats, policy makers, international judges, representatives of human rights organizations, military officers, government officials and academics will hopefully help all of us to do a lot of soul-searching as to where we as a world community have gone wrong. Most importantly, though, this should be a call to action beyond the endless analysis and prescriptions that the conference industry periodically produces.
The most spectacular thing about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda is probably the fact that, notwithstanding the vows of the human race never to let it happen again, this time it occurred under the brilliant glare of the information age and against a background of sufficient early warning. To a large extent, therefore, the Rwanda genocide tested the resolve and preparedness of the international community to prevent or stop such terrible crimes as we move into the next millennium.
How did the international community respond to the Rwanda genocide? Political response or lack thereof, is dynamically inter-linked to the understanding of the totality of the situation existing before, during and in the aftermath of the genocide. Since 1994, many in the media, academic circles, government and international community have tended to focus on the statistics of the crimes: over 1 million Rwandese perished in a period of about 90 days. In proportional terms, this was one seventh of the total population of Rwanda, leading many people to wonder what the response could have been if, for example, one seventh of the United States population (some 37 million Americans) were killed and the horror covered by CNN. Yet, even with graphic details, people very often make false assumptions:
- This was a resurgence of ethnic/tribal killings that have characterized a centuries-old relationship of hatred between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda a phenomenon that scholars and policy-makers also consider African.
- This was a spontaneous event of revenge by Hutus against Tutsis, resulting from the death of the late President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda.
- This was a popular Hutu response to the civil war that pitted the forces of the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) against those of the then Government of Rwanda.
- Everything had been going relatively well in Rwanda until the eighties when in a surprising twist of fate, economic hardships due to the fall in coffee prices, social effects of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) structural adjustment program, soil erosion and general environmental degradation, the burden of overpopulation, etc., created a political crisis that slowly dragged the whole nation into the crime of genocide.
It is not the purpose of this paper to enumerate the endless catalogue of false assumptions. For genocide to occur, the following factors have to be taken into consideration:
First of all, there have to be architects who necessarily have to devote their time in planning this kind of activity, irrespective of how dangerous it is.
Second, there has to be an outlook that, in aggregate, constitutes the ideology of genocide.
Third, the architect and planners equipped with the ideology mobilize and organize ‘disciples’ who must both communicate the message and put it into operation.
Fourth, there has to be institutional mechanisms at the political, social, economic and cultural levels to ultimately ensure the implementation of the plan.
Lastly, an insensitive, largely silent external environment, in this case, the international community.
If the history of Rwanda of the last 100 years were to be replayed in slow motion, it would be surprisingly evident that all the above factors were indeed present prior to and during the genocide of 1994.
Two broad trends have generally created the context of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda: external manipulation by the process of colonization; and, politics of exclusion by the local Rwandan elite in the First Republic of Gregoire Kayibanda and the Second Republic of Juvenal Habyarimana.
The colonial state operated through the policy of divide and rule. The pre-colonial monarchist state had, before the advent of colonialism, created a sense of nationhood amongst the Rwandese people who spoke one language, shared one culture, lived on the same hills and engaged in a symbiotic exchange of products of their labor. In this hierarchical order of things, the King treated his chiefs and the rest of the population (Bahutu, Batutsi, and Batwa) as his subjects in a very elaborate and complex relationship that had elements of checks and balances which ensured the survival and continuity of Rwandan society as one, its contradictions notwithstanding. The colonial state, therefore, had to undermine this basis of political, social and economic organization in order to perpetuate colonial rule.
The colonial authorities had to create ethnic distinctions. For example, the first German resident in Rwanda, Dr. Richard Kandt, in describing the Batutsi, noted:
“Their gigantic stature, the sublimity of their speech, the tastefulness and unobtrusive way of their dress, their nobl traits and their quiet, penetrating, often very witty and irritating eyes.”
Of the Bahutu, Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Mecklenburg, described them as:
“a medium-sized type of people whose ungainly figures betoken hard toil, and who patiently bow themselves in abject bondage to the latter arrived yet ruling race, the Tutsi.”
Note the introduction of the anthropological application of the term “race” in describing the relationship between Rwandese people, a stereotype that was soon to be acquired by the local elite as the ideological foundation of the First and Second Republics. The first identification on the basis of ethnicity was begun by Belgian authorities. A census was carried out by the Belgian authorities in the 1930’s categorized any Rwandese with over 10 heads of cattle as “Tutsi” and anyone with less as “Hutu.” Furthermore, while at the same time undermining the kingship structures they found in place, the colonial power relied in the same structures to dispense the harsh measures they introduced, thereby intensifying the alienation of the population.
As independence approached, the shift from manipulating and dividing Rwandan society through the Tutsi King and chiefs to a Belgian-created new elite of Hutu operators only changed the form of the process and not the substance. Local Belgian authorities had not only exerted ideological influence in creating these local cadres, but also engineered the establishment of a formal political party for the Bahutu elite, PARMEHUTU, an ethnically based party, as the most favored ally to whom they would hand the instruments of power in 1962. On January 11, 1960 the Belgian Special Resident in Rwanda, Colonel Logiest, could not conceal his partisan attitude:
“thus we must undertake an action in favor of the Hutu, who live in a state of ignorance and under oppressive influences. By virtue of the situation, we are obliged to take sides. We cannot stay neutral and sit.”
On November 27, 1959 Gregoire Kayibanda, who was to become the first President of the First Republic until he was overthrown in 1973 and eventually killed by the late President Habyarimana, had clearly indicated his ideological and political orientation in a statement where he passionately argued for segregating the Bahutu from the Batutsi, describing them as:
“two nations in a single state, two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy, who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts and feelings as if they were dwellers of different zones, or inhabitants of different planets.”
From this narrow and partisan outlook came the massacres of 1959 and thereafter, described by the British philosopher Bertrand Russell as:
“the most horrible and systematic human massacre we have had occasion to witness since the extermination of the Jews by the Nazi.”
And by the Holy See in the Vatican radio broadcast of February 10, 1964 as:
“the most terrible and systematic genocide since the genocide of the Jews by Hitler.”
Throughout the 1960’s, the 1970’s, the 1980’s, and the early 1990’s, massacres became a prominent and distinguishing characteristic of the two post-independence regimes in Rwanda.
The other notable features of the First and Second Republics were:
• A very persuasive and all-round discrimination against Batutsi. The December 10, 1990 issue of the journal Kangura, one of the mouthpieces of the architects of the genocide, summarized the extent of discrimination and the extremism that goes with it in the famous “The Hutu Ten Commandments”:
- Every Muhutu should know that a Mututsi woman, wherever she is, works for the interest of her Tutsi ethnic group. As a result, we shall consider a traitor any Muhutu who marries a Tutsi woman; befriends a Tutsi woman or employs a Tutsi woman as a secretary or a concubine;
- Every Muhutu should know that our Hutu daughters are more suitable and conscientious in their role as women, wives and mothers of the family. Are they not beautiful, good secretaries and more honest?
- Bahutu women, be vigilant and try to bring your husbands, brothers and sons back to reason.
- Every Muhutu should know that every Mututsi is dishonest in business. His only aim is the supremacy of his ethnic group. As a result, any Muhutu who does the following is a traitor: makes partnership with Batutsi in business; invests his money or the government’s money in a Tutsi enterprise, lends or borrows money from a Mututsi; gives favors to Batutsi in business (obtaining import licenses, bank loans, construction sites, public markets, etc.).
- All strategic positions, political, administrative, economic, military and security should be entrusted to Bahutu.
- The educational sector (students and teachers) must be majority Hutu.
- The Rwandese Armed Forces should be exclusively Hutu. The experience of the October 1990 war has taught us a lesson. No member of the military shall marry a Tutsi.
- The Bahutu should stop having mercy on the Batutsi.
- The Bahutu, wherever they are, must have unity and solidarity and be concerned with the fate of their Hutu brothers. To this effect, the Bahutu inside and outside Rwanda must constantly look for friends and allies for the Hutu cause, starting with their Bantu brothers. They must also constantly counteract Tutsi propaganda and remain firm and vigilant against their common Tutsi enemy.
- The social revolution of 1959, the referendum of 1961, and the Hutu ideology must be taught to every Muhutu at every level. Every Hutu must spread this ideology widely. Any Muhutu who persecutes his brother Muhutu for having read, spread and taught this ideology, is a traitor.
• A chronic problem of Rwandese refugees, probably the earliest on the African continent, which both Kayibanda’s and Habyarimana’s regimes were unwilling to resolve citing the small size of Rwanda and “overpopulation” as the reasons for not repatriating over 1 million Rwandese, mainly Tutsis, in the Diaspora.
• A highly centralized state apparatus founded on violence and increasingly relying on coercive means of violence to entrench itself through the single party (MDR-PARMEHUTU in the First Republic and MRND in the Second Republic). The President of the Republic effectively presided over every other important institution in the country. The politics of exclusion, first against Batutsi, and later on, against some Bahutu on a regional or family basis, became the hallmark of the two regimes.
• Social and economic marginalization of the majority of Rwandese people, of which over 90 percent lived in the countryside in a subsistence economy that hardly catered for their most basic needs. Rwanda had become one of the leading recipients of aid money per capita in sub-Saharan Africa. Unable to generate more wealth within Rwanda, the scramble to appropriate national resources for private use led to sharper and intractable contradictions within the governing Bahutu elite.
• Over-dependence on external influences from Belgian, Swiss and German capitals, but increasingly from France, in the domestic decision-making process as well as in the relationship between Rwanda and the rest of the world.
Generally, a culture of impunity with a multi-faceted institutional back-up had created a climate of terror and fear, literally making the possibility of peaceful change impossible. It is under these conditions of deepening crisis that the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) was born and subsequently led to the political military struggle that stopped the genocide in 1994 when the international community was in disarray.
In retrospect, the same international community had generally not shown any concrete response when, for over three decades, Rwandese people were languishing in the Diaspora while others were being massacred or lynched in Rwanda.
With the beginning of the civil war in 1990, the human rights abuses once again intensified leading to the massacres of Batutsi across the country. The infamous massacres of Kibilira, Bigogwe, Bugesera, and Kibuye were clearly documented by international human rights organizations and well known by some in the international community. At this juncture, this was taken to be a result of the civil war and therefore attracted very little attention or response from the international community.
In August 1993, the RPF and the then Government of Rwanda signed the Arusha Peace Agreement. This peace agreement provided for, among other things:
- The establishment of the Rule of Law;
- A power-sharing arrangement;
- The establishment of an integrated national army from the forces of the belligerents;
- The repatriation of refugees who had been living in the Diaspora since 1959; and
- The setting up of a transitional government in the run-up to free and fair elections within twenty-two months.
Yet, the Rule of Law, inclusive government, a truly national army, repatriation of refugees and the transition to good governance were not of any interest to the regime since they were seen to be undermining the power and privilege of the ruling elite. As part of the Arusha Peace Agreement, the United Nations was supposed to provide a peacekeeping force to help in the setting-up of a transitional government and its institutions within thirty-seven days of the signing of the Peace Agreement. This deadline was not met. Only by December 1993 could the United Nations talk of a sizeable presence in Kigali. This delay was interpreted by the planners and organizers of genocide as lack of resolve on the part of the international community, which they utilized to further advance their plans.
President Habyarimana’s regime created obstacle after obstacle to prevent the establishment of the transitional government, in order to adequately prepare for the “final solution.” There was massive importation of small arms, ammunition, grenades and machetes. Lists of the targeted population were drawn up and circulated. Arms and ammunition were distributed throughout the local administrative units. A network was established to liquidate political and other opponents. There was extensive recruitment and training of the notorious militia, the interahamwe. The enhance the delivery of the hate message, the President’s party, MRND, created Radio RTLM, which served as a very powerful mobilizing tool prior to and during the genocide.
This information was available to the international community, yet it was still unwilling to respond.
When President Habyarimana died in a plane crash on April 6, 1994, the planners and organizers of genocide quickly formed the so-called Provisional Government in order to put their plans into operation. Their intention was to achieve the objective of complete extermination of the Batutsi and those they considered to the “allies of the Batutsi” (ibyitso). Since a lot has been said about this period, a quick look at the response of the international community reveals the following:
- The so-called Provisional Government was neither condemned by any African government nor by the rest of the international community and, therefore, interpreted this silence as an approval and acceptability of its agenda.
- As Western governments hurriedly air-lifted their citizens to safety, the Provisional Government unleashed its destructive machinery into motion, accomplishing what no other government in history has ever been able to do - killing 1 million people in just 90 days. Rather than condemn and ostracize this regime, the UN and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) even accepted the members of this genocidal regime as the legitimate representatives of Rwandese people.
- As media around the world carried gruesome pictures of the decapitated and mutilated bodies of women, children and men floating in choked rivers, the international community still called for “restraint on both sides” as if genocide was a product of the military contest between the forces of the RPF seeking to stop the genocide and those of the Provisional Government who were carrying it out. The RPF was under tremendous pressure from international organizations and Western governments to accept a cease-fire and to negotiate with the genocidal regime so as to implement the Arusha Peace Agreement which the provisional government had deliberately derailed. This was a terrible failure on the part of the international community. Civil war and genocide were clearly different things. Failure to recognize this gave sufficient breathing space to the Provisional Government to continue with the process of extermination.
- The UN Peacekeeping Force, which by this time had been built to up to 3,000 Blue Helmets, was shockingly reduced to just over 200, sending yet another signal to the perpetrators of genocide that an obstacle to their plans was being removed.
- The OAU Secretary General, Salim Ahmed Salim, obtained pledges from African nations to contribute up to 5,000 peacekeeping troops to deal with the crisis in Rwanda. However, this potential African force lacked financial and logistical support which the OAU Secretary General sought from the UN and Western governments but never received.
- The French government had maintained an active military presence in Rwanda since 1990 alongside Belgian troops and late President Mobutu’s troops in the initial alliance that supported the genocidal regime against the forces of the RPF. Surprisingly, the UN Security Council gave a go-ahead to France to launch what was inherently a unilateral French intervention under the guise of a humanitarian operation. Operation Turquoise, a Chapter 7 type of operation in the UN nomenclature, was intended to salvage whatever was left of the genocidal regime. It was surprising that France, which had a far-from-neutral presence in Rwanda, was being given a mandate “to save Tutsis.” Worse still, why would the UN and Western governments refuse to give financial and logistical support to African troops only to give this mission to France with its rather unholy record in Rwanda? While Operation Turquoise could not save the provisional government, it still helped to re-establish the perpetrators of genocide and their infrastructure in the refugee camps in the then Zaire. Today, the Great Lakes region of East and Central African is still suffering from the consequences of Operation Turquoise.
- When the genocide was stopped by the RPF, the UN was actively clamoring for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR II) when UNAMIR I had been a disaster. The Government of National Unity, established by the RPF in partnership with other political actors in the country, accepted UNAMIR II on the basis that this would help Rwandese people to forge ahead with the task of justice, reconciliation and reconstruction. As it turned out, UNAMIR II was no different from UNAMIR I, and had to reluctantly wind up only with the insistence of the Government of Rwanda. Many nations all over the world hurriedly dispatched troops to the region after the genocide mainly to give assistance in the refugee camps that were being established in Tanzania and the then Zaire. This, together with the activities of the international relief agencies and NGO’s, complemented the legacy of Operation Turquoise and the genocidal activities of the ex-FAR and interahamwe in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region.
- The refugee camps became the breeding ground for the training, re-arming and operational bases from which the perpetrators of genocide established their network, which now extends from Africa, Europe and North America. By the time the refugee camps were disbanded at the end of 1996 during the rebellion that toppled late President Mobutu, the international community was spending close to 2 million dollars per day in an effort that directly or indirectly supported the establishment of the genocidal networks. If full accounting were to take place, one would find out that between 1994 and 1996 the international community spent 3.5 - 5 billion US dollars, and this was neither in preventing or stopping genocide nor supporting post-genocide reconstruction in Rwanda.
What was lacking in Rwanda, as this paper argues, was not lack of early warning as facts have shown, but rather political will sufficient resolve to act in a timely fashion.
How can we prevent such horrendous crimes from recurring in Rwanda and other parts of the world?
As we move into the 21st Century, Rwanda has to deliberately invest in the following processes in order to recover from the effects of genocide and insure Rwanda society against the resurgence or recurrence of genocide:
1. Unity and Reconciliation
Neither the colonial regimes nor the post-independence regimes ever attempted to build on the shared history, challenges and future in order to enhance the process of nation building. The last 100 years amount to a lost century in terms of the lost initiative for the Rwandese people to live together in harmony. It is, therefore, very important to promote reconciliation in both words and deeds. The experience has got to be a shared one, and not limited to just an agreement between a small group of elite. The peasants in Rwanda have never been the source of divisions in our society. They have always been the victims of divisive state authorities. They have everything to gain if the state machinery becomes an instrument of promoting living and working together in search for solutions to the common problem of poverty and marginalization.
2. Justice and Rule of Law
The Rwanda genocide was the final outcome of the absence of the rule of law and the accompanying culture of impunity. Even if genocide had not occurred in Rwanda in 1994, the challenges of ensuring the fundamental rights of the citizens and building governance based on the rule of law would still have been daunting tasks. Genocide has made this task more complex and many times more difficult. With over 130,000 genocide suspects in overcrowded prisons, insufficient human, material and financial resources in the infant justice system, established in the aftermath of the genocide of 1994, the challenge of justice calls for originality and innovation in handling matters relating to justice. However, there are no shortcuts for there can be no genuine and durable reconciliation without eradicating the culture of impunity and institutionalizing the rule of law in our national life.
3. The Problem of Governance
The politics of exclusion that have generally characterized Rwanda in the 20th century have left very deep and structural deformities that can only be resolved through a broad civic and political dialogue as a precondition of attaining good governance. Whatever the form it finally takes in Rwanda, the process has got to be internally driven and must seek to redress Rwanda’s problems. All Rwandese people must have an equal opportunity to participate in the decision-making process while at the same time struggling to be the principal beneficiaries. Therefore, accountability, transparency, participation and inclusiveness are not empty catchwords, but the true essence of good governance. The current Government of National Unity seeks to promote human rights; a Legal and Constitutional Commission that will focus on matters of law and the future constitution of Rwanda; and, a Unity and Reconciliation Commission that will promote reconciliation as the very first step of consolidating good governance. In the coming few months, the government will conduct the first grassroots elections as the first step in this long process.
4. Confronting the Problem of Poverty and Underdevelopment
Rwanda is a landlocked country that has for the last 100 years remained an impoverished enclave in the heart of Africa. Over 95% of the population lives off a subsistence economy that cannot cater for their housing, clothing, health, education and nutritional needs. Irrespective of the usual claims that governments have made in the past, the Rwandese people of all ethnic backgrounds live conditions of extreme poverty. Coffee and tea, introduced by colonial authorities, is still grown and exported without adding much value, but hardly benefiting those who grow it. The population of Rwanda will double in the next 20 years to a figure of about 16 million people by the year 2020.
Poverty, in addition to limiting the choices of the Rwandese people, creates a fertile ground for conflict as the local elite scramble for limited resources by recruiting ordinary people to factional interests.
The strategy for undoing this legacy must necessarily begin with investment in people through their health and education. The struggle to acquire scientific, technological and managerial skills is very crucial, especially in an era where most economies are increasingly becoming knowledge-based. The other aspects of this strategy include agricultural transformation; infrastructure development; and creating an enabling legal and regulatory environment that will promote trade and investment. But this will be very difficult to achieve if the problem of Rwanda’s external debt remains unresolved, constituting an unbearable burden to ordinary Rwandese in a post-genocide era.
5. National and Regional Security
The horrors of genocide have left a very difficult challenge to the current and future generations of Rwandese people who must exercise vigilance in ensuring the right of every citizen to life. The perpetrators of genocide that were defeated in Rwanda in 1994 have, since then, become a regional destabilizing menace. From their bases, mainly in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the perpetrators of genocide have been a source of destabilization mainly in the northern parts of Rwanda where their main objective has been to overthrow the Government of National Unity and to complete genocide.
Surprisingly, while their constituency in Rwanda has been diminishing day by day, some African governments, together with covert support from outside Africa, have further complicated matters by making this group an instrument of vicious destabilization against Rwanda and the rest of the Great Lakes region.
In its latest report, the UN International Commission of Inquiry (Rwanda) states:
“the situation in the great Lakes region is rapidly heading towards a catastrophe of incalculable consequences which requires urgent, comprehensive and decisive measures on the part of the international community. The danger of a repetition of tragedy comparable to the Rwandan genocide of 1994, but on a sub-regional scale, cannot be ruled out.”
The report goes on:
“The ex-FAR and interahamwe have now become in effect the allies of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its allies, the Governments of Angola, Chad, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. The new relationship has conferred a form of legitimacy on the interahamwe and the ex-FAR. This is a profoundly shocking state of affairs.”
Rwanda’s involvement in the DRC since 1996 is based on this reality. Our national interest is to safeguard our national security, while at the same time making a contribution to collective regional security arrangements.
6. Economic Cooperation and Integration
Recently, a mood of pessimism about Africa’s future has flourished again. The conflict spots on the continent, notably the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the war in the DRC (with the involvement of Rwanda Uganda Sudan, Chad, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, and Libya), show both the fragility of the post-colonial nation state as well as the historical imperative for greater cooperation and integration to create viable economic opportunities in the 21st century. It may be a difficult item to sell as of now, but it is the only path to making Rwanda and the Great Lakes region relevant to their citizens.
Some of the steps mentioned above are not very Rwanda-specific and therefore can be applied to nations and communities where crimes of this nature, irrespective of magnitude, are a threat. At the international level the actors are still as unprepared as they were in 1994 to act quickly and effectively should the need arise.
In my opinion, there are three important measures that we as a human race must be in the habit of cultivating to prevent terrible crimes from happening again.
First, we must invest in prevention rather than squandering unimaginable resources in providing palliative remedies that leave our societies and communities still vulnerable. If the international community had sensed a crisis-in-the-making in Rwanda and taken the necessary measures to change the course of events, the story would have been a different one.
Second, for all the usefulness of, and excitement about, the International Criminal Tribunals and the International Criminal Court, the international community is now behaving in a way that could be compared to society that invests extravagantly in building prisons, courts and fire engines, without taking the trouble to building mechanisms that minimize crimes and fires. If the international community increasingly talks about a new architecture to prevent and deal with global financial turmoil, where is its counterpart coalition to prevent and deal with global human rights turmoil? More than ever before, there is an urgent call on mankind to build a strong and effective coalition against genocide.
Third, the UN must reform itself to become a source of inspiration rather than ridicule. Being efficient has something to do with doing more and costing less. But the fundamental challenge to the UN is to become the voice of the powerless scattered around the world, sometimes confronting the effects of dictatorships and economic mismanagement in isolation. The criticism that we often make against the UN must also be level against the member states, especially the powerful ones who have the habit of manipulating this international body for selfish interests.
At the end of the day, while being global citizens, we are also Rwandese, Americans, Swedish, Jamaicans, etc. The struggle to build strong and lasting coalitions against horrendous crimes begins at home in our nation states and communities. This is where we must begin the journey of putting our houses in order. Only then can we celebrate the 100th anniversaries of the Genocide Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with pride and comfort.