Humanitarian intervention

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  • 1. Humanitarian Intervention: An Analysis between the Rwanda and Darfur Genocides Cooper P. Carriger International Studies 101-003 Dr. Günes Tezcür April 24th, 2012 1  
  • 2. In 1945 the world experienced one of the most horrific human rights atrocities ofall time in which a government was systematically murdering specific populations withthe intent of completely eliminating them from the planet. The crimes of World War IIbecame the first to ever be categorized as “genocide.” After WWII, the internationalcommunity vowed to never let something like this occur again through the Convention onthe Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948. However, genocide became even more prevalent through the rest of the 20thcentury, leading into the new millennium, signifying a failing promise from theinternational community. Most recently the genocides of Rwanda and Darfur have gainedcritical attention—but mostly for the lack of the world’s attention. While Rwandacompletely was completely void of any humanitarian intervention or relief, Darfurreceived significant public interest. This is because in hindsight the United Nations andUnited States regretted their inaction towards Rwanda. Nonetheless, publicity andintervention in Darfur were overall unsuccessful, seeing as thousands of people are stillcurrently suffering from human rights violations. If strong powers such as the UnitedNations or United States were adamant about stopping genocides from occurring, it isunlikely they would be unsuccessful in doing so. In 1959, Ethnic tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups arose as abyproduct of the Rwandan Revolution, where the Hutus overthrew the Tutsi Monarchy.Before this, Hutus and Tutsis lived peacefully together. Throughout the second half of thetwentieth century these tensions grew to intense hatred and hostility. The Hutu majorityof 84% viewed the Tutsi minority (15%) as “racial aliens.” The government legally 2  
  • 3. classified Tutsis as a separate race from the Hutu ruling society.i The Hutus viewthemselves as the only “authentic” Rwandans. What was once a simple ethnic identitybecame socially and politically charged. In 1990 civil war broke out in Rwanda between the two groups, but ended in 1993with the signing of the Arusha Accords by the Rwandan Government and the RwandanPatriotic Font (a Tutsi political party). On the surface this seemed to pave the path forpeace between the two groups, but in reality it only had a Band-Aid effect. At this timethe United Nations created the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda(UNAMIR), a mission for fostering peace between the Hutus and Tutsis. On April 6th,1994, the Hutu President of Rwanda was assassinated when his plane was shot down; thisis widely observed as the catalyst for the immediately following genocide. At the time,this was the third assassination of a Hutu president killed in the past six months.iiAlthough the responsibility of the shooting remains a mystery, the Hutu governmentnever had the slightest doubt that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was directlyinvolved. The Rwandan genocide began within 48 hours of the crash. The government atonce began using media, such as radio stations, to command the nation to completelyeliminate the entire Tutsi population. Although the government orchestrated thegenocide, ordinary civilians carried about the actual massacres. Any Hutu that refusedthat refused to kill their Tutsi neighbor was murdered with their family. The message was“kill of be killed.” In a report issued by Physicians for Human Rights: The interhamwe used the following methods for killing: machetes, massues (clubs studded with nails), small axes, knives, grenades, guns, fragmentation grenades, 3  
  • 4. beatings to death, amputations with exsanguination, buried alive, drowned or raped and killed later. Many victims had both their Achilles tendons cut with machetes as they ran away, to immobilize them so that they could be finished off later.iiiAlso due to Rwanda being one of the most densely populated countries in Africa,diseases like cholera went untreated and added to the overall death count of Hutus andTutsis alike. Throughout the next 100 days more than 800,000 people would be killed.ivEstimates range up to 1,000,000 people—which would be roughly 20% of the country’soverall population.v Unlike past 20th century massacres the Rwandan genocide was carried out in theopen, whereas the Nazi regime systematically took their victims to the countryside inorder to maintain secrecy and anonymity. The 100-day genocide was very publicallyexecuted. Surely, this human rights atrocity would have garnished wide internationalsupport for humanitarian intervention, especially since the conflict was widelyacknowledged. However, this was not the case. The United Nations Security Council wasextremely reluctant to take any intervention. Belgium was the only nation that advocatedfor a stronger UNAMIR mandate. At the time the genocide broke out, there were UnitedNations peacekeepers present in Rwanda due to UNAMIR. Be that as it may, UnitedNations peacekeepers do not have sufficient resources, nor is it their mission to use force.Essentially, the only United Nations presence in Rwanda didn’t even have the capacity tostop the violence. The United Nations Security Council is the only vehicle of the UnitedNations authorized to use To make matters worse, the United Nations reduced the 4  
  • 5. amount of UNAMIR presence in Rwanda. Belgium pulled out all of their forces, due tothe escalating violence and murder of ten Belgium United Nations peacekeepers. TheUnited States followed suit and evacuated all Americans from the country immediately. Like the United Nations, the United States was incredibly reluctant to intervene.Reports show that the United States used its influence within the United Nations SecurityCouncil to discourage a robust United Nations response.vii Independently, the UnitedStates viewed genocide as a local conflict and a civil war. This is credited to theSecretary of State, Warren Christopher, as one of the worst foreign policy mistakes in the20th century. Christopher dramatically downplayed the conflict in his reports to theClinton administration, and refused to classify this “local conflict” as genocide.According to the National Security Archive at the George Washington University, itwasn’t until June that the United States classified the massacres as It wasn’tuntil five years after the genocide that President Bill Clinton stated in a Frontlineinterview: I sort of started focusing on this and seeing the news reports coming out of it, it was too late to do anything about it. And I feel terrible about it because I think we could have sent 5,000, 10,000 troops there and saved a couple hundred thousand lives. I think we could have saved about half of them. But Ill always regret that Rwandan thing. I will always feel terrible about it.viiiAlthough it is a weak claim, one could argue that the United States and other powers“just didn’t know” the severity of the state of Rwanda, and therefore cannot bear theentire burden of guilt. But this is completely unacceptable because the United States hadknowledge of a possible massacre before the genocide had begun. In 1994, just before the 5  
  • 6. genocide began, a high-ranking Hutu sent a cable to both the United States and theUnited Nations intricately detailing the plans of genocide against the Tutsis.viii This wasrevealed in the same PBS Frontline documentary, Ghosts of Rwanda. Unfortunately thisinformation never solicited action from the United States nor the United Nations SecurityCouncil (UNSC). Contrasting to the United State’s failure, on June 22nd (with approval from theUNSC) French forces spread throughout southwest Rwanda to stop the genocide.Although their humanitarian intervention could have been used earlier, the French arecredited with successfully stopping violence and saving thousands of lives in the zonesthey were patrolling. Controversially, France is also credited to successfully helpingformer Hutu genociders flee to neighboring Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of theCongo) when RPF took power of the Rwandan government.ix It is now unanimously recognized that the international community completelyfailed in their response to the genocide that occurred. As being one of the most influentialnations in the world, the United States played a crucial role in the severity of thegenocide: their complete lack of action, ignorance of the issue, and downplaying of thebrutality prolonged the genocide. If the Unites States had acted hundreds of thousands ofpeople would not have been ruthlessly tortured and murdered. The United States isincredibly influential in the international arena and could have easily garnished supportfor intervention if they would have tried. The genocide could have been easily avoided ifthe international community had provided military forces paired with humanitarianintervention. Inaction is sometimes the worst action and definitively was in the case of 6  
  • 7. Rwanda. Human rights atrocities happened right before the eyes of the world, andnothing was done. When a similar conflict began to arise in Sudan only nine years later, the UnitedStates and the international community had the opportunity to apply what they learnedfrom their initial disregard of the Rwandan genocide. Much like the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994, the current genocidethat is occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan is based upon racism and ethnocentrism.Even though the majority of Sudan is Muslim, the country has divided into two differentracial identities: African or Arab. In 2003, two African-identifying Sudanese rebelgroups, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and Justice and EqualityMovement (JEM), obtained weapons and used them against the Sudanese governmentbecause of state sponsored oppression of the non-Arab Sudanese population. TheSudanese government, in response, began systematically ethnically cleansing the non-Arabs of Sudan. However, the government indirectly did this by providing weapons andfinances to the Janjaweed, a Sudanese militia group composed of nomadic Arab (ofcourse, the government denies supporting said militia). The Sudanese government alsoargues that they had no intention of exterminating a population; they were just simplysurpassing a rebellion. Since the beginning of the conflict, there are estimates that over400,000 people have died, and more than 2,500,000 displaced and relocated into refugeecamps.x These refugee camps become targets for attack and systematic rape. The highcasualties, identical to the Rwanda genocide, are also a result of non-direct violence likemass starvation, malnutrition, and disease epidemics that encompass the refugee camps. 7  
  • 8. In order to avoid another situation similar to Rwanda’s, the United States and theinternational community has taken actions to relieve Sudanese victims by creating aworldwide movement advocating for humanitarian intervention. Although the United Nations Security Council did not find that the conflict inDarfur qualifies as genocide they did release a report containing the following statementthat it is clear that the UNSC finds the conflict as horrific: "The conclusion that no genocidal policy has been pursued and implemented in Darfur by the Government authorities, directly or through the militias under their control, should not be taken in any way as detracting from the gravity of the crimes perpetrated in that region. International offences such as the crimes against humanity and war crimes that have been committed in Darfur may be no less serious and heinous than genocide.xiIn 2004, shortly after the report, the United Nations Security Council referred thesituation in Darfur to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). By 2008many Sudanese government leaders, including the president, Omar al-Bashir, wereindicted by the ICC for numerous counts of genocide, war crimes, and crimes againsthumanity. However, the Sudanese government has refused to hand over these leadersbecause they believe that the ICC has no jurisdiction because Sudan is not a member ofthe ICC.xii Then In 2007 the UNSC unanimously approve the authorization of 26,000 UNpeacekeepers to be stationed in Darfur, in hope to provide humanitarian relief.xiii TheUNSC continues to renew this authorization, and still current today. The peacekeepingpresence in Darfur has been criticized as not effective enough, but one can argue that anyaid or relief is better than none at all. 8  
  • 9. The United Nations has proactively reacted to the situation in Darfur, and hasclearly put far more effort into the issue of justice when compared to their reaction to thegenocide in Rwanda. The UNSC has not only provided relief efforts, but has acted tocombat the impunity of the Darfur situation by issuing an ICC referral, something thatwas never resolved in Rwanda. Even though the implementations of these policies havevast room for improvement, at least they bring the issue to the world’s attention. Like the United Nations, the United States has also acted far more proactively inthe case of Darfur than that of Rwanda by showing that there have been some lessonslearned. The United States’ Congress issued a statement later signed by President GeorgeW. Bush that qualified the situation in Darfur as a genocide, which is categorized as theworst crime in the world. The United States also imposed sanctions on Americancompanies that work with Sudanese government, by taking away any federal contracts ortax benefits. These sanctions are “designed to increase the political pressure on Khartoumto end the violence, and supplement sanctions that the United States has maintained onSudan since 1997. Those sanctions include restrictions on imports from and exports toSudan, an asset freeze against the government of Sudan, and a prohibition on U.S. armssales or transfers to Sudan” as stated by US Department of State.xiv More impressing than the United States government response to Darfur, is theAmerican activism that has taken place. Many celebrities, academics, policy makers, andordinary citizens have advocated for awareness and action. This unprecedented support isoften credited to pressuring the government to currently be the only nation to formallyrecognize the massacres in Darfur as genocide, something the United States refused to dofor Rwanda. If the nation would have demonstrated this same interest and publicity for 9  
  • 10. the genocide in Rwanda, then perhaps law makers and the president would have acteddifferently. It should be noted that in both the Rwanda and Darfur genocides, there are strongallegations that the United States did intervene because they did not have any significanteconomic or political interests at stake. This argument does have significant validity,especially when contrasted with other United States humanitarian interventions. Forexample, the United States quickly came to the defense of Kuwait in the early 1990swhen invaded by Iraq, providing advantageous military forces. Quickly and efficiently,with the help of other industrialized states, the United States was able to successfullyprotect the sovereignty of Kuwait. But the United States had a strategic interest in theKuwait and the Middle East: to keep the flow of oil into the United States. If the UnitedStates had committed even half the amount of resources to Rwanda or Darfur thenundoubtedly hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved. If the United Stateswere to do everything it could to stop genocide, it is likely that it would succeed in doingso. Despite some key differences in the domestic and international dynamics today,compared to twelve years ago during the Rwandan genocide, the United States’ responseon Darfur reveals that important lessons remain unlearned. Awareness without actionchanges nothing.                                                                                                                i  United States of America. Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. CIA. Web. 18 Apr. 2012. < factbook/geos/rw.html>.   10  
  • 11.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ii  Lemarchand, René. "The Rwanda Genocide." Century of Genocide. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2004. 395-415. Print.  iii  “Rwanda 1994: A Report of the Genocide.” Physicians for Human Rights. London. 1994. Pg 11. Print.  iv  Des Forges, Alison. Leave No One to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda. 1999. Human Rights Watch. Electronically published January 12, 2007.  v  "Rwanda: How the Genocide Happened." BBC News. BBC, 17 May 2011. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <>.  vi  Ferroggiaro, William. "The U.S. and the Genocide in Rwanda 1994: Evidence of Inaction." The National Security Archive. The George Washington University, 20 Aug. 2001. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <  vii  US Department of State. Cable Number 099440, to US Mission to the United Nations. New York. “Talking Points for UNAMIR Withdrawal.” April 15. 1994.Confidential. Source: Freedom of Information Act release by Department of Stateviii  "Ghosts of Rwanda." Interview. Public Broadcasting Station. WGBH, Boston, Massachusetts, 2004. Television. Transcript.   11  
  • 12.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ix  Lichfield, John. "Sarkozy Admits Frances Role in Rwandan Genocide." The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 26 Feb. 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. < frances-role-in-rwandan-genocide-1911272.html>.  x  "Genocide in Darfur, Sudan." Darfur Scorecard. Genocide Intervention Network. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. <>.  xi  International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur Report to the Secretary-General. Issue brief. Geneva: International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, 2005. Print.  xii  "Sudan Defiant on Darfur Suspects." BBC News. BBC, 27 Feb. 2007. Web. 23 Apr. 2012. <>.  xiii  "Darfur Peacekeeping Force Still Short of Members, Basic Equipment." Oxfam. Oxfam America, Inc., 30 Dec. 2008. Web. 23 Apr. 2012. < members-and-basic-equipment>.  xiv  United States of America. Dept. of State. Bureau of Public Affairs. The United States Response to the Darfur Crisis. Washington, D.C., 2007. Print.   12