Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire (center), the force commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), recounts his experience as a peacekeeper and what it was like to be tasked with implementing the 1993 Arusha Peace Accords, as his former deputy, Major-General Henry Anyidoho (far left), looks on. Loesje Praktijken
Don Webster, who served as the senior appeals counsel and senior trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda from 1999 to 2012, comments on the timeline of events in early 1994 as those on the ground tried to implement the Arusha Peace Accords and get the new transitional government in place. Loesje Praktijken
Iqbal Riza (center), the assistant secretary-general in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) at the United Nations from March 1993 to January 1996, situates for the group what was going on inside DPKO in early 1994. Ambassador Colin Keating (right), as New Zealand’s representative to the United Nations, was president of the Security Council in April 1994 when the plane of Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana was shot down as it approached the airport in Kigali, Rwanda. Loesje Praktijken
In 1994, Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari from Nigeria (left), Ambassador David Hannay from the United Kingdom (center), and Ambassador Karel Kovanda from the Czech Republic (right) were all permanent representatives on the UN Security Council. During the conference, they shed light on Security Council consultations and policy decisions taken before and during the genocide in Rwanda. Loesje Praktijken
Joyce Leader (right), who was deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Kigali during the genocide, shares her personal experience as a US diplomat on the ground in Rwanda as the genocide started. Prudence Bushnell (left), who was the US deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs back in Washington, struggled to stay in touch with Leader and other US diplomats as chaos ensued and the US embassy in Kigali was closed. Loesje Praktijken
Ami Mpungwe (left), the lead facilitator of the Arusha negotiations from Tanzania; Don Webster (center), former senior appeals counsel and senior trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (1999–2012); and Michael Barnett (right), a professor from George Washington University in Washington, DC, share a moment outside The Hague Institute for Global Justice between conference sessions. Loesje Praktijken
(From left) Venuste Nshimiyimana, a former UNAMIR information officer and BBC Africa correspondent; Senator Jean-Damascène Bizimana of Rwanda; Faustin Kagamé, communications advisor to Rwandan President Paul Kagame; Charles Murigande, the Washington representative for the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) (1990–94), and Patrick Mazimhaka, former vice-chairman of the RPF (1993–98) chat over lunch just outside The Hague Institute for Global Justice. Loesje Praktijken
Ambassador Prudence Bushnell (left), US deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, and Bacre Ndiaye (right), special UN rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions (1992–98), gather for lunch at The Hague Institute for Global Justice. Loesje Praktijken
Ami Mpungwe (left), Tanzania’s facilitator for the Arusha peace negotiations; Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire (center), force commander of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR); and Patrick Mazimhaka, vice-chairman of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (1993–98), talk outside The Hague Institute for Global Justice before the next session starts. Loesje Praktijken
Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari from Nigeria; Rwandan human rights activist Monique Mujawamariya; Ami Mpunge, Tanzania’s facilitator for the Arusha peace negotiations; and Venuste Nshimiyimana, a former UNAMIR information officer and BBC Africa correspondent, represent a diverse group of witnesses to what happened leading up to the genocide in Rwanda. Loesje Praktijken
Patrick Mazimhaka was the vice-chairman of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) from 1993 to1998 and was the principal RPF negotiator in Arusha. He spoke at the conference about the internal politics transpiring in Rwanda leading up to the genocide. Loesje Praktijken
Hubert Vedrine (left) was the secretary-general of the French presidency between 1991 and 1995. Jean-Marc de La Salbiere (right) served as the director of the Africa Bureau at the Quai d’Orsay in Paris in 1994. Along with Jean-Christophe Belliard, these participants provided the perspective of French policy makers on the events that happened between 1990 and 1994. Loesje Praktijken
On June 1–3, 2014, leading decision makers from the United Nations, Africa, the United States, and Europe gathered in The Hague to consider the failure of the international community to prevent or effectively respond to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and to explore whether and how the tragedy might have been averted. The conference, International Decision Making in the Age of Genocide: Rwanda 1990–94, was co-sponsored by the Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide and The Hague Institute for Global Justice, in cooperation with the National Security Archive at George Washington University.
Conference participants included architects of the 1992–93 Arusha Accords; the leadership of UNAMIR, the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda; four former members of the UN Security Council; senior officials from the United Nations, Africa, the United States, and Europe; and former diplomats, human rights activists, academics, and journalists present in Kigali before and during the genocide.
This rare convening of former officials and eyewitnesses coincided with the 20th anniversary of the genocide that took the lives of as many as one million Rwandans, predominantly Tutsis, between April and July 1994. Foreign Policy (external link) heralded the conference as an “extraordinary opportunity for 40 key players and observers to review the missteps.”
As part of a broader initiative to shed new light on the failed response to the genocide, the conveners made available online thousands of pages of newly declassified documents, including reports from key players in the UN Security Council debates who attended the conference: New Zealand envoy Colin Keating, president of the Security Council in April 1994; Sir David Hannay, the British permanent representative to the UN; and Karel Kovanda of the Czech Republic, who was the first UN ambassador to use the term “genocide” to describe the events in Rwanda. Read a New York Times article (external link) about these newly released documents.
The conference focused on three themes. The first, “Failure to Prevent,” addressed the lead-up to the genocide between October 1990 and April 1994 and explored such questions as whether the international community might have been able to foresee and prevent the gathering catastrophe in Rwanda. Read a Washington Post article (external link) about the growing body of evidence that the world knew about before the genocide.
The second theme, “Failure to Protect,” focused on the international response to the genocide, with special attention to the role of the UN Security Council. The third theme was devoted to lessons learned, examining the similarities and differences between Rwanda and other contemporary mass atrocities.
The conference was modeled on a series of “critical oral history” gatherings co-organized by the National Security Archive over the past 25 years that have expanded public and scholarly knowledge of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, the end of the Cold War, and US–Iran relations, among other topics.
This conference was made possible in part by the generous support of the Sudikoff Family Foundation, which funds the Museum’s Sudikoff Annual Interdisciplinary Seminar on Genocide Prevention, and by the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for the National Security Archive’s genocide documentation efforts.