Ms. Key writes a great paper on the 20th Anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide

Ms. Adrienne Key, a student in my Refugee Law Seminar last semester, has written a great paper about the Rwandan genocide that happened 20 years ago this year.

Read and learn…


The Requisite Lessons of Eliminationism

and the Need for Global Intervention

  Adrienne Key © 2014


            Over the course of three months during the year of 1994, the Rwandan Genocide claimed the lives of nearly one-million people.  Men, women, and children alike were ripped from their homes, slaughtered with machetes, and executed in broad daylight. Pregnant women were stabbed and killed, babies butchered, the throats of children were slit, adolescent girls were tortured and raped, and men and boys were beaten and murdered. Hundreds of thousands of slain bodies filled the streets of Rwanda and floated down the rivers and streams.   Families were torn apart, houses were burned to the ground, and entire communities were destroyed.  And although coverage of the slayings and executions of the innocent Rwandan people was aired on news and radio broadcasts across the world, the international community made a conscious decision not to intervene.  As this last month of April 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of this unconscionable human tragedy, it seems appropriate to examine whether the international community, governments, and leaders have learned from their failures with Rwanda and what lessons can be applied in the present need for global intervention to combat these brutal acts against humanity.

Genocide has recurrently marred the repute of nations across the globe.  Systematic violence against members of particular religions, races, nationalities, and ethnic groups has been a harsh and unpalatable reality throughout history.  In the 20th century alone, it is estimated that more than one hundred million deaths were caused by genocide—outnumbering the combined total of combat deaths in all the wars fought during the same century everywhere in the world.[1]  In the early 1900s, over one million people were killed in the Armenian genocide; and in the 1930s, over eight million lost their lives in the Soviet Famine.[2]  By the 1940s, at the close of World War II, over six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.[3]   And as recent as the 1960s, it is estimated that a gross thirty million people were killed under the Communist China Regime.[4]

As depicted in the graph titled Genocide in the 20th Century, Harvard Professor Stevin Pinker, using estimates of Rudy Rummel[5] , delineates the global death tolls arising out genocide from 1900 to 2005.[6]   Although the undertaking of obtaining the exact number of fatalities in these particular types of tragedies is difficult, the calculated estimates of scholars and experts speak to the astounding loss of human life and the geographically dispersed  epidemic of genocide.

Unlike the initiators in the killings of the Armenians in 1915 and the Nazi perpetrators responsible for killing the Jews during the Holocaust, no one tried to keep the Rwandan genocide a secret.  In contrast to the aforementioned genocides of early 20th century, the tragic events taking place in Rwanda were being covered by the mainstream media.

The mass killings in Rwanda…received ample coverage in the media despite the overall                               lack of awareness of the country prior to the violence…No relief agency or politician can                       use the lack of knowledge as an excuse for inaction.  This is a tremendous advance                                compared to the two or three previous decades and reflects the impact of the television                           media’s global reach.[7]

Having reached a level of public awareness and access to the necessary statistics, we are in a better position to now assess the detrimental consequences of genocide and tailor foreign policy towards  our international obligations to combat these widespread acts of murder.


            It was not until the year of 1944, in response to the Nazi crimes against European Jews, when the term genocide was coined to describe this type of deliberate violence against massive numbers of innocent people with the intent to eliminate entire populations.[8]     On November 21, 1947, the United Nations (UN) adopted the Draft Convention on Genocide through General Assembly Resolution 180 (III) declaring the act of genocide to be an international crime necessitating “national and international responsibility on the part of individuals and states”.[9]  By December 9, 1948, The International Convention of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the UN through General Assembly Resolution 260 (III), defining the term genocide.[10]

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with                                  intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as                                    such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its                 physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.[11]

Furthermore, the Convention stated as follows:

Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III                                                 [Genocide; Conspiracy to commit genocide; Direct and public incitement to commit                                  genocide; Attempt to commit genocide; Complicity in genocide] shall be punished,                                     whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private                                  individuals.[12]

And in regards to preventative and proactive measures, the General Assembly further stated that states “may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III.”[13]

The United States of America (U.S.) signed the 1948 Convention; however it was not until  November 25, 1988 when the U.S. Senate ratified it, to include specific reservations requiring the consent of the [U.S.] for the [U.S.] to be party to any dispute submitted under the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.[14]  In addition, the U.S.. reserved “that nothing the Convention requires or authorizes legislation or other action by the [U.S.] prohibited by the Constitution of the [U.S.] as interpreted by the [U.S.].[15]  Even with Senate ratification, this convention had been sitting before the Senate longer than any other treaty in U.S. History, passed from the presidency terms of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and lastly to Reagan.[16]  More importantly, the included reservation rejecting obligatory jurisdiction of the International Court was a clear indication of the U.S.’s lack of intention to be bound by the Convention and disregard for the international judicial body.[17]   Consequently, the U.S. ratification of the Convention “was accomplished in such a fashion as to guarantee that it would have little or no impact on national policy.”[18]

With the appearance of a promising unified effort to combat genocide, the Convention would not be effective without the collective acceptance and efforts of the member states.  What is more, at present, the Convention has never been invoked to prevent the death of a single person.[19]


            During precolonial times, the Rwandan population consisted of three groups:  Hutu, the vast majority of the population who traditionally worked the land as crop growers; Tutsi, the monarchy who comprised seventeen percent of the population; and the Twa, a small group of pygmies comprising only one percent of Rwanda’s population.[20]  For hundreds of years the three groups coexisted within this well structured monarchy, shared the same language, followed the same religion, lived in the same neighborhoods, and engaged in intermarriages.[21]  Following World War I in 1926, Belgium took over Rwanda and began to implement colonization policy that reinforced Tutsi domination over the Hutus, systematically removed Hutus from their local district positions of power, and brought forth an alien political divide.[22]

The Belgian colonists issued identity cards to classify the Rwanda natives as Hutu, Tutsi, or Twa on the basis of their physical appearance and features, and financial wealth.[23]  The racist based classification system grouped those with more typical European features and lighter colored eyes and skin with the higher ranked Tutsi group, and denied the Hutu classified citizens higher education, land ownership and positions in government.[24]

Fueled by the ethnic oppression, a Hutu rebellion began, costing the lives of nearly one hundred thousand people.[25]   By the year of 1959, violence spread rapidly, the Hutu mobilization gained more control, and many Tutsis fled to exile in neighboring countries.[26]  Tutsi refugees organized themselves and formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), both a political and military unit of trained soldiers, by design to regain residency and power in their native land.[27]  In 1990, the RPF invaded Rwanda, and a three year civil war erupted.[28]  By 1993, the RPF under the leadership of Jean Paul Kagame[29] along with U.N. backed  peacekeeping efforts achieved a ceasefire agreement and started negotiations with the Rwandan government for a new power sharing protocol and multi-party constitution.[30]

In the year to follow, however, it would become apparent the Hutu extremist unwavering plans to eliminate the entire Tutsi population.


            The time line of the events in Rwanda, over the course of those three months in 1994, is precisely documented to reflect the rapid progression of the death toll as well as the succinct reports given to the international community.

The day following April 6, 1994, when the plane carrying the then Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana crashed[31], Hutu gunmen began systematically tracking and killing “moderate Hutu politicians and Tutsi leaders.”[32]  By April 7th, an estimated eight thousand people had been killed.[33]  Canadian General Romeo Dallaire[34], head of the U.N. Peacekeeping force still present in Rwanda for the ceasefire negotiations, requested that the U.N. double his then twenty-five hundred troop force.[35]  To no avail, General Dallaire was ordered by U.N. headquarters “not to intervene and to avoid armed conflict”; and within two days of the commencement, approximately thirty-three hundred troops from the U.S., France, Italy, and Belgium were sent in and evacuated the citizens from their own countries.[36]  By day four, over thirty thousand people had been killed.

            Within days, the mainstream media began reporting worldwide the “tens of thousands dead” and the “pile of corpses six feet high outside a main hospital”.[37]  The New York Times reported the murders and slaying of “one thousand men, women, and children in a church where they sought refuge.”[38]  After Belgium received reports that ten of their soldiers were slain,  they withdrew their remaining troops from the peacekeeping force.[39]  After only one week, the death toll rose to a total of sixty-four thousand; and, General Dallaire was left with a force of merely twenty-one hundred.

By the twelfth day of the massacre, and with an estimated one hundred thousand people already dead, Human Rights Watch beckoned the U.N. Security Council to use the label “genocide” to trigger the legal provisions of the Anti-Genocide Convention.[40]  In response, the Council unanimously voted to withdraw ninety percent of the peacekeepers from Rwanda.[41]  America’s U.N. Ambassador Madeline Albright specifically pushed for the heavy cutback, after Belgium, embarrassed to be pulling out alone, requested for the U.S.’s support of a complete withdraw.[42]    And by April 25th, with over one hundred thousand people reported dead, General Dallaire was left with four hundred and fifty troops from developing countries to guard tens of thousands of Rwandans at provisional locations set up by the force.[43]

And although the rate of murders rapidly rose to catastrophic levels, the United States refused to use the term “genocide”.[44]  When the press questioned Christine Shelly, State Department spokeswoman, whether genocide was happening in Rwanda, she responded that “we have to undertake a very careful study before we can make a final kind of determination…”[45]   In a memo prepared for a meeting of the Defense Department officials discussing the crisis, cautions were included to state “Be Careful…Genocide finding could commit [the U.S.] to actually do something.”[46]  By May 3rd, aware of the two hundred thousand people now murdered, the Clinton Administration unveiled the Presidential Decision Directive 25, requiring a “national interest” for the U.S. to render support to other nations in U.N. peacekeeping missions.[47]  The Pentagon, citing violations of Constitutional freedom of press and speech, also refused to intervene–rejecting General Dallaire’s  proposal to “jam the extremists’ hate radio transmissions” that continued to incite the violent committals, giving specific instructions on ways for the Hutus to hunt down and slaughter Tutsis.[48]

Six weeks in, the U.S. And U.N. finally conceded to send five thousand troops and fifty armored personnel carriers (APCs) to Rwanda.[49]  Bureaucratic hurdles and arguments over who will cover the costs, however, delayed the arrival of the additional force.[50]  In fact, the U.S. APCs did not arrive until July.[51]

It was not until July 17, 1994, when the RPF succeeded in regaining power, and the extremist Hutu government officials fled to Zaire.[52]  By the time that aid arrived, it was too little and too late.  The genocide had already claimed nearly one million lives.


            The lasting effects of genocide plague victimized nations for decades, if not centuries, to follow.  Refugees, displaced persons, orphaned children, disabled and diseased are the frequent consequences of these violent conflicts.  The devastation that occurred twenty years ago in Rwanda continues to diminish the quality of life for the people today.

Just as in times of war, women, susceptible to sexual violations and abuse, can become disproportionately targeted by the perpetrators of genocide.  The diagram of the  average life expectancy for Rwandan women from 1960 to 2008, unambiguously expresses the egregious drop in life expectancy in the year of 1994.[53]    Compared to a Rwandan woman living, on average, fifty two years in the year 1985, she would be expected to reach only twenty eight years of age in 1994.  What is more, it is estimated that between two hundred and fifty thousand to five hundred thousand women and girls were raped during the three months of the Rwandan genocide, and approximately twenty thousand children were born as a result of the rapes.[54]  Consequentially, sixty-seven percent of the hundreds of thousands of women raped contracted HIV and AIDS.[55]  And with the substantial number of husbands that were killed, fifty thousand women in Rwanda are now widows as a result of the genocide—ten times the number of widowers.[56]

One of the most heart-wrenching realities of genocide is the willful infliction of terror and violence against children.    As shown in the graph titled Child Mortality Rate in Rwanda, the likelihood of a child dying by the age of five years old reached an unthinkable and unacceptable level during the year following the conflict.[57]    During that time, a child in Rwanda was over three hundred  percent times more likely to die before reaching his or her fifth birthday, than a child in the other countries of the world; and, nearly one hundred percent times more likely to die than five years prior within the confines of Rwanda.  Of those that survived, seventy-five thousand survivors of the Rwandan genocide were orphaned[58] as a result; and as of 2007, nearly thirty thousand of those orphans are living in households that are “headed by children”.[59]   And in the poverty stricken conditions, over half of the surviving children were forced to leave school.[60]


            In response to the intensified needs of the people that managed to live through this massacre, the Rwandan government started FARG, an assistance program to help support the survivors  with welfare, housing, and healthcare.[61]  With limited financial resources and an overwhelmingly devastated mass of people, the government fund simply does not have the capability to effectively address the long-term physical, financial, and psychological harms inflicted upon the survivors.[62]  The government of Rwanda sought aid from the international community, requesting states to “get mobilized” and  have an “obligation to human solidarity particularly so because Genocide is a crime against humanity”.[63]  Still as of June 2013, a mere twenty thousand documented victims were receiving a hardship allowance from FARG; and at present, an estimated seventy thousand Rwandan refugees, who fled to neighboring countries, are still living in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.[64]

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) , within the 1951 Convention, defined the term refugee as:

any person who…as a result of events occurring before 1 January 1951 and owing to                                  well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality,                                       membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his                      nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the                                protection of that country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is                                unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.[65]

The UNHCR subsequently entered into force that 1967 Protocol, amending the 1951 Convention by omitting the words “as a result of events occurring before 1 January 1951” and “a result of such events”.[66]  With these particular omissions, the term refugee would be expanded to apply to all people, rather than just Europeans fleeing after the Cold War.

Unlike one hundred and forty four other states, the United States did not sign the initial 1951 Convention; however, the U.S., along with Cape Verde and Venezuela, joined one hundred and forty two states in signing and agreeing to the 1967 Protocol.[67]  The Protocol would later become a part of U.S. Refugee Law and integrated in the Refugee Act of 1980.  By way of the Act of 1980, 8 United States Code § 1521 established the Office of Refugee Resettlement to “fund and administer” with other Federal agencies refugee assistance programs.[68]  And through § 1522 (a)(1)(A), the Director of the Office:

shall, to the extent of available appropriations, (i) make available sufficient resources for               employment training and placement in order to achieve economic self-sufficiency                                  among refugees as quickly as possible, (ii) provide refugees with the opportunity to                                acquire sufficient English language training to enable them to become effectively                                  resettled as quickly as possible, (iii) insure that cash assistance is made available to                                 refugees in such a manner as not to discourage their economic self-sufficiency, in                          accordance with subsection (e)(2) of this section, and (iv) insure that women have the                               same opportunities as men to participate in training and instruction.[69]

During the Rwandan genocide, after Hutus began these brutal efforts to exterminate the Tutsi population, tens of thousands of Rwandans fled—seeking protection and solace from neighboring countries.  With the refugees being subjected to disease and more killings in the refugee camps, some sought refuge elsewhere and were able to make their way to the United States.[70]    These particular cases arising under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Immigration Courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals reveal that both victims in fear of persecution and perpetrators attempting to avoid prosecution endeavored to resettle within the borders of America.

            Jeanette Uwase, a Rwanda native, was only fourteen years of age when the genocide in Rwanda began.  Uwase was of mixed Hutu/Tutsi ethnic descent–her father, a well-known Hutu business man and her mother, a Tutsi woman.[71]  In July of 1994, Uwase, her parents, and her seven siblings fled Rwanda in fear of being “targeted for extermination”.[72]  Amongst the panic and chaos, Uwase was separated from her family, and ended up spending the next two years in a refugee camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo.[73]  The camp was ultimately raided by the RPF; and, when Uwase was discovered to have a Hutu father and suspected of being a member of the Hutu militia Interahamwe, the RPF soldiers “subjected her to abuse, including putting her feet in very cold water, tying her hands and legs, threatening her with violence, and withholding food.”[74]  Moreover, two soldiers woke her one night, confiscated her identification papers, raped her at gunpoint, and beat her.[75]  After being reunited with her older sister and finding out her father was killed in prison, Uwase was granted entry into the U.S. on a student visa to study English at a South Bend college.[76]

Uwase sought asylum after her student visa expired, in fear of being persecuted for her “mixed ethnicity and imputed political opinion.”[77]  After the Immigration Judge (IJ) denied her application for not establishing her mixed ethnic heritage and not meeting the burden of proof that she was subjected to past persecution, and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed the IJ’s determination, Uwase appealed to the United States Court of Appeals.[78]  The Appeals court, ultimately, vacated the BIA’s removal order and remanded for a rehearing to allow Uwase more time to submit corroborating evidence and present live testimony from her sister, as well as to give the government the chance to submit evidence on the updated conditions of Rwanda.[79]  The end result in Jeanette Uwase’s pursuit for asylum is not in a published opinion, so the protections and effectiveness of our refugee legal system in this particular case is unknown.

On the other side of the spectrum, Prudence Kantengwa was tried and convicted before a jury for making false statements on her visa and asylum applications and lying and obstructing justice in the asylum hearing.[80]  Like Uwase, Kantengwa was also a Rwandan native seeking asylum in the United States.[81]  In contrast, Kantengwa, claiming to be in fear of persecution if sent back to her country, was found to be attempting to avoid prosecution for her involvement with the Hutu regime.[82]   In fact, Prudence Kantengwa was a member of the Hutu militia,  attended the extremist rallies, was garbed in the “party scarf and badge”, and had personally made investments in a local Rwanda radio station that aired the extremist propaganda and hate speech.[83]  The court also discovered Kantengwa’s husband’s role throughout the genocide as the director of the Hutu government internal security service; and her son-in-law’s role as the leader of one of the most extreme youth militias.[84]

With the conviction on appeal to the District Court, the governing standard would require the jury’s verdict to stand “unless the evidence, viewed in the light most hospitable to the government’s theory of the case, could not have persuaded a rational trier of fact, beyond any reasonable doubt, of the defendant’s guilt.”[85]  To find the false statements to be material in subject matter, the court must find the untruth to have “a natural tendency to influence, or [be] capable of influencing, the decision of the decision making body to which it was addressed.”[86]  In the case at hand, the court found that the facts could have persuaded a reasonable trier of fact beyond a reasonable doubt to Kantengwa’s guilt; further, Kantengwa’s false statements were material to her visa and asylum applications.[87]  Had she answered to questionnaire and application truthfully, her entry into the U.S. would have likely been denied.[88]

These two cases are precise demonstrations as to why protection from persecution and the prevention against flight from prosecution are integral pieces of refugee law.  The UN Refugee Agency is still working at present to protect the principal of non-refoulment, by calling upon governments “to   continue abiding by its obligations to protect all refugees and asylum seekers on its territory and, particularly, not to return them to the very situations and risks from which they have fled for their safety.”[89]  As in the cases where the fear of persecution is well founded, the deportation to country of origin is “a serious breach of a critical duty of protection” and may result grave risks to the victim—potentially death.[90]


            With the gross oversights and blatant disregard for the human lives in Rwanda, I am compelled to pose the issue of whether we learned from our mistakes.  Are the requisite lessons stemming from genocides as recent as Rwanda being applied to other modern day crimes against humanity?  Have we tailored our approach in foreign policy to proactively preempt extremist regimes, provide aid and intervention when called upon by international law and convention, and afford refuge to those being persecuted for their race, religion, nationality, social affiliation, or political opinion?

Since 2003, the Sudanese armed forces have committed violent attacks against the civilians of Darfur, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people, raping and pillaging their homes, and forcing the displacement of four million people.[91]  Moreover, Sudan President Omar al-Bashir and the entire “Sudanese state apparatus” are directly implicated in these crimes of genocide, maliciously driving displaced person to “inhospitable areas” or “camps” and calculating attacks to exterminate entire populations.[92]

On March 4, 2009, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, successfully mandated an arrest warrant against Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity; however, the decision to submit to the jurisdiction of the ICC is based on the voluntary cooperation of the Sudanese officials and President.[93]   Sadly, the government of Sudan, a sovereign State, has not cooperated, nor surrendered; and, the crimes against the innocent civilians of Darfur remain unabated.[94]

The Democratic Republic of Congo, selling a billion dollars of gold each year and one of the world’s richest lands of gold, diamonds, copper, and cobalt, continues to allow for its citizens to subsist in destitution, living “hand to mouth”.[95]  With a history of slavery, colonization, and dictatorship bleeding the country’s people dry, it does not come as a surprise to see Congo now in the thralls of genocide.[96]  Whether due to a mistaken perception of an ongoing ethnic civil war or simply a global consensus accepting the murders of millions of Africans, the international community, aware of the rising death toll, has failed its legal obligations in Congo and has once again allowed genocide to infect the twenty-first century.[97]

From 1996 to present, an estimated six million Congolese civilians have lost their lives—and the number continues to grow.[98]  Hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been raped and abused.  Neighboring country military forces, including Rwanda[99] and Uganda, have driven out the Congolese civilians, displacing millions, solely for access to the land and to unlawfully prosper from its rich minerals.[100]

There has been no international pressure from the U.N. or from any global superpower against any of the political leaders or governments responsible for these crimes; and even though implored, the Anti-Genocide Convention power to evoke aid has not been employed.[101]  Crimes against humanity, genocide, violence against children, sexual violence against women and girls are the present day reality for the Congolese and Sudanese.[102]

Needless to say, since its inception, the 1948 Anti-Genocide Convention has never been invoked to prevent the death of a single person.[103]


            Under these circumstances of over one hundred million people losing their lives in genocide in the twentieth century, and millions more now in the twenty-first, the world’s global interest should be to form a steadfast structure to prevent, intervene, and combat genocidal mass slaughters.  And in conditions when the prevention is not feasible, the immediate response and presence of military and diplomatic support can assist by minimizing the loss of human life; moreover, a proactive approach will lessen the inevitable burdens inflicted upon the survivors:  poverty, disease, depression, disability, homelessness, and vulnerability to future crimes.

State sovereignty should not restrict the international community’s obligation to defend humanity.  Leaders who perpetrate systematic destruction, forfeit their right of immunity.  Those who are guilty of crimes against humanity should be sanctioned for violating the law, and kicked out of the U.N.[104]  Another alternative to punish unlawful activity within corrupt governments is to target their economic lifelines by cutting off trade and exchanges as a means to hold leaders accountable.[105]   As demonstrated in the case of Congo, superpower States are acquiring the valuable natural resources of this nation to support their own industries in jewelry, technology, automotive, and electronics, without holding accountable the neighboring countries who have taken these resources at the expense of the native Congolese people.[106]  We as a planet have the resources and authority to prioritize human life, and stop shifting blame and turning a blind eye to what we now know is still a problem in today’s world.

The pattern of genocide has not changed; and therefore, the signs and signals conveyed by the at-risk States are unmistakable and easily detectable.  Countries that have experienced and are now experiencing genocidal conflicts share commonalities of oppressive colonization, tyrannical dictatorship, impoverished populations, and systematic structures put in place allowing for guerrilla groups and extremist regimes to divide and conquer the people.  Utilizing the genocides of the past and applying the requisite lessons learned, we can employ preventative measures in the countries that are currently at risk or are already the victims of extermination.

As made clear in the case of the Rwanda Genocide, bureaucratic hurdles and a lack of appreciation for the mass brutality that was occurring slowed down what could have been an almost immediate response to the country’s plight.  By formulating regional genocide prevention task forces[107] around the globe, a more hands on approach can be applied in the vital moments prior to the occurrence of genocide.  With local forces in place, the faculty of these organizations will maintain an in depth familiarity with each area’s unique cultural differences, as well as the challenges specific to the regions.  With close proximity to at-risk regions, a local task force also has the capability to establish working relationships with the native government officials to minimize corruption within each State’s political institutions, and advance cooperation, accountability and transparency from the leaders and the laws.

Prior to the genocide in Rwanda, General Dallaire, who was on the ground in the nation’s capital of Kigali, was informed by the natives of the shipments of machetes being stock piled by the militia and the Hutu plan to exterminate the Tutsis.[108]  General Dallaire, however, did not have the authority to act on these discoveries; further, adding insult to injury, the U.N. Security Council, upon hearing the General’s discoveries, gave  him orders to not intervene.[109]  Although compelled to act, the U.N. peacekeepers did not have the authority to do so.  Had a regional task force been in place in Rwanda, the early indications of the conspiracy could have been addressed immediately.  By conveying the power of the international law onto regional task forces, the expedient and necessary interventions can be accomplished.  The locality of regional forces reinforces the need for accountability by fostering a personal stake in the well-being of each force’s jurisdiction, and building a network of professional personnel on the front lines capable and authorized to intervene.

When the crime of genocide corrupts a nation, neighboring countries commonly become refuge for those who flea.  Often times, countries do not have the necessary resources to adequately house the newly displaced.  Refugee camps quickly become diseased, vulnerable, and famine infected.    As of  this past year of 2013, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates that there are fifteen million people living in refugee camps around the world, many housing two or more generations of refugees.[110]    In the desert of Dabaad, a northeastern province of Kenya, the world’s largest U.N. headed refugee camp, built to accommodate ninety thousand refugees, is beyond maximum capacity—housing more than three hundred and fifty thousand Somalians (most of whom are women and children).[111]  Living in fragile shacks and tents, surrounded by miles of desolate land, families struggle to receive the basic necessities of water, food and shelter.[112]

It takes 12 days, on average, to receive a first ration of food, and 34 days to receive                                    cooking utensils and blankets…They use whatever materials they can find: mostly                         branches and brushwood, tied together to form domed structures, which they cover with                  cardboard, polythene or torn fabric – anything to provide some shelter from the                                           unrelenting sun and the choking dust.[113]

The Anti-Genocide Convention not only declares the act of genocide to be an international crime, the law demands “national and international responsibility on the part of individuals and states.”[114]  Genocide effectuates the displacement of millions of people.  While the Convention requires both states and individuals to act in crimes against humanity, refugee law obliges the support for those fleeing persecution.  It is essential for a global resolution combating genocide to encompass better resources and the development of housing facilities to aid the victims in their recovery.  Our responsibility to the survivors is not to perpetuate inhuman treatment and deprivation.  We must shape foreign policy to prioritize the quality of human life, or the lack thereof, and reinforce institutions and organizations with sufficient capabilities in providing for those in need.  In rendering adequate shelter, food, and water, we are not only fortifying the most basic human rights, we are restoring the dignity of those most dire.

It is critical that we realize that genocidal exterminations are still happening today; and unless we collectively take on the responsibility to prevent and stop these crimes against humanity, millions more will be killed and millions more will suffer in their survival.


            As an American citizen, it is difficult for me to fully appreciate or relate to the amount of fear and terror that the victims and survivors of genocide experienced.  When I initially began researching this topic, to put things into perspective, I thought about the American tragedy of September 11, 2001.  Although the acts of 9/11,  when terrorists intentionally used commercial airplanes to strike the World Trade Center and U.S. Pentagon, do not compare to the genocide that occurred in Rwanda, it is a moment that is still fresh on the minds of many Americans and one that most can relate to.  Although unclear as to the specific motivation of the terrorists involved, 9/11 is arguably the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil.  I can remember during the day of September 11th and the days that followed being glued to the television set for hours on end, watching the news coverage on the destruction and lives lost.  At the time, I was inconsolable and fearful of another attack.

And although I can reflect on the immense grief I experienced in that month of September, I still cannot fathom the level of devastation and damage the Rwandans endured.  While most Americans watched 9/11 unfold on their television sets, the Rwandans saw first hand their neighbors, friends, and family members slaughtered in the street.  We Americans were witness to piles of concrete and rubble on the streets of New York covering the thousands killed as a makeshift grave; still, Rwandans were subjected to the sight of hundreds of thousands of dead bodies (including children) piled in their streets and floating down their rivers.  While nearly three thousand people were killed in 9/11, nearly one million were killed in the genocide in Rwanda.

On September 12, 2001, the UN condemned the acts of 9/11 by way of a unanimous resolution  stating a “terrorist attack on one country was an attack on all humanity” and acknowledging an “inherent right of individual or collective self-defense in accordance with the United Nations Charter.”[115] On that same day, for the “first time in NATO history”, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization put forward Article 5 of the Washington Treaty stating “that an armed attack against one or more NATO countries is an attack against all NATO countries.”[116]

In the week of April 9, 1994, when news headlines reported tens of thousands already killed in Rwanda, Belgium withdrew its troops from the UN force present in Rwanda; moreover, American, French, Belgian, and Italian troops were sent in to only evacuate their own citizens.[117]  By April 21, 1994, when the reported death toll in Rwanda was one hundred thousand, the U.S and the entire U.N. Security Council voted to withdraw 90% of the peacekeepers in Rwanda.”[118]  And on May 25, 1994, seven weeks in with a death toll of over three hundred thousand, then U. S. president Bill Clinton responded, “Whether we get involved in any of the world’s ethnic conflicts in the end must depend on the cumulative weight of the American interests at stake.”[119] The world reacted and responded on our behalf within hours of the 9/11 attacks, yet waited for three months to provide Rwanda support.

This analogy is not, by any means, meant to diminish the tragedy of September 11th.  It is a demonstration of a global failure in Rwanda.  The collective response of individuals, leaders, governments, national and global organizations[120] defending the lives and security of Americans, post 9/11, clearly shows our capabilities to intervene and protect people at a time of need.  When the United States experienced a state of terror, our sentiments and outrage were joined by the rest of the world; and, our outcries for aid went answered.  The global post 9/11 response affirms the need for  humanity to transcend national borders.  If we measured mankind’s greatness and moral progress by how we treat the weakest or most vulnerable populations, where would we fall on the scale?[121]  When people are in crisis, regardless of citizenship, national origin, ethnicity, or religion, we as human beings are compelled to act.  Our holy spirit is a greater power than our national spirit.  Genocide is a crime against humanity–our national interests, humanistic obligations, and international law demand  global responsibility.



[1]    Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity. JTN Productions (2009).

[2]    See Goldhagen.

[3]    Id.

[4]    Id.

[5]    The late Rudy Rummel was a Political Science Professor, author of twenty-four nonfiction books and nearly one hundred peer reviewed professional articles, the 1999 recipient of the Susan Strange Award of the International Studies Association , the 2003 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Conflict Processes Section, American Political Science Association, and a frequent nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Democratic Peace. “On Rudy Rummel.”, Democratic Peace Blog (2009).

[6]    Stevin Pinker. “A History of Violence Edge Master Class 2011.” Edge (2011).

[7]    Robert I. Rotberg and Thomas G. Weiss. From Massacres to Genocide:  The Media, Public, Policy, and Humanitarian Crises. World Peace Foundation, 120 (1996).

[8]    Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-Jewish lawyer, fled Poland during the Nazi occupation.  With hopes of preventing and penalizing such horrid crimes, as the Nazis against the European Jewish population during World War II, Lemkin sought to coin a term that would be recognized and punishable under international law.  In 1944, using the Greek word genos for race or tribe combined with the Latin suffix cide for kill, Lemkin created the term genocide.  By 1945, “the term genocide was included in the charter of the International Military Tribunal set up by the victorious Allied powers in Nuremberg, Germany. The tribunal indicted and tried top Nazi officials for crimes against humanity, which included persecution on racial, religious or political grounds as well as inhumane acts committed against civilians (including genocide).”

A&E Television Network. “What is Genocide.”, The History Channel (2009).

[9]    General Assembly of the United Nations Resolution 180 (III) (1947).

[10]  General Assembly of the United Nations Resolution 260 (III) (1948).

[11]  Id.

[12]  See G.A. Res. 260 (III)

[13]  Id.

[14]  United Nations. Treaty Series, Volume 78, 277. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. (2014).

[15]  Id. at 277.

[16]  Herbert Hirsh. Anti-Genocide:  .Building an American Movement to Prevent Genocide. Praeger Publishers, 4 (2002).

[17]  Id. at 4.

[18]  Id. at 5.

[19]  See Goldhagen.

[20] Frederik Grünfeld and Anke Huijboom. The Failure to Prevent Genocide in Rwanda: The Role of Bystanders. Transnational Publishers, 27 (2009).

[21]  Id. at 27.

[22]  Id. at 28.

[23]  See Grünfeld at 29.

[24]  Sarah Hymowitz and Amelia Parker. History of the Tutsis and the Hutus. American University Washington College of Law Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.

[25]  See Grünfeld at 30.

[26]  Id. at 30.

[27]  Id. at 32.

[28]  Id. at 32.

[29]  Jean Paul Kagame, having been in the United States for military training, returned to his native country Rwanda where he served as the Assistant Director of Military Intelligence in the Ugandan National Resistance Army.  As a Tutsi and a well-respected leader, Kagame was able to assist the RPF with “direction, discipline, and a strategy” during the civil war.  Id at 34.  Kagame was later elected and is currently the president of Rwanda.

[30]  Id. at 34.

[31]  It is still unclear who was responsible for the plane crash and the killing of former President Habyarimana—some attribute the crash to being shot down by Hutu militants and extremists, while others blame the RPF and Kagame.  Although public opinion and reporters may draw theories or speculations, no individual or group has been held criminally liable for the crash.

[32]  Public Broadcasting System (PBS). Frontline: Ghosts of Rwanda. WGBH educational foundation (2004).

[33]  Id.

[34]  “Roméo Dallaire is a retired lieutenant-general, Senator, and celebrated humanitarian. In 1993, LGen Dallaire was appointed Force Commander for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), where he witnessed the country descend into chaos and genocide, leading to the deaths of more than 800,000 Rwandans.  Since his retirement, he has become an outspoken advocate for human rights, genocide prevention, mental health and war-affected children. He founded The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, an organization committed to ending the use of child soldiers worldwide, and is the author of two best-selling books…His harrowing experiences in Rwanda are detailed in Shake Hands with the Devil – the Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2004 and the “Shaughnessy Cohen Prize” for political writing awarded by the Writers’ Trust of Canada.  It provided the basis for an Emmy Award-winning documentary as well as a major motion picture of the same name; it has also been entered into evidence in war crimes tribunals trying the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. ” Romeo A. Dallaire. Biography. (2013).

[35]  See PBS.

[36]  Id.

[37]  Id.

[38]  See PBS.

[39]  Id.

[40]  Id.

[41]  Id.

[42]  Id.

[43]  Id.

[44]  Id.

[45]  Id.

[46]  See PBS.

[47]  Id.

[48]  Id.

[49]  Id.

[50]  Id.

[51]  Id.

[52]  Id.

[53]  Timetric. “Life expectancy at birth, female (years), Rwanda”. The World Bank (2011).

[54]  Survivors Fund (SURF).  “Supporting Survivors of the Rwandan Genocide”. (2014).

[55]  In many instances, the women infected in Rwanda “resulted from a systematic and planned use of rape by HIV+ men as a weapon of genocide.” See SURF.

[56]  See SURF.  

[57]  Id.  

[58]  “In recent years, an increasing number of orphaned survivors have experienced difficulties resulting from family members claiming and selling off houses that are rightfully their own. A Compensation Law for survivors of the genocide, which would have enshrined rights of succession to land and property for orphans and widows, was approved by the Council of Ministers but it was withdrawn by the Ministry of Justice before it could be debated by the Parliament in 2002. This has resulted in many genocide orphans being legally as well as physically vulnerable.”


[59]  See SURF.

[60]  Id.

[61]  Id.

[62]  Republic of Rwanda. “About FARG”. (2010).

[63]  Id.

[64]  See FARG.

[65]  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  The 1951 Refugee Convention, Article I (A)(2).  (2010).

[66]  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  The 1967 Protocol, Article I (2).  (2010).

[67]  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “States Parties to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol”. (2011).

[68]  The United States Government Printing Office. 8 United States Code § 1521(a), (b). (2006).

[69]  The United States Government Printing Office. 8 United States Code § 1522(a)(1)(A)(i), (ii), (iii). (2006).

[70]  See PBS.

[71]  See Jeanette Uwase v. John Ashcroft, Attorney General of the United States. 349 F. 3d  1039 United States Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit (2003) at 1040.

[72]  See Uwase at 1040.

[73]  Id.

[74]  Id. at 1040.

[75] Id.

[76]  Id. at 1041.

[77]  Id.

[78]  Id.

[79]  Id. at 1045.

[80]  See United States of America v. Prudence Kantengwa, Criminal Action No. 08-10385-RGS. United States District Court, D. Massachusetts (2012).

[81]  Id.

[82]  Id.

[83]  See Kantengwa.

[84]  Id.

[85]  Id.; See alsoUnited States v. Soler, 275 F.3d 146 (1st Cir. 2002) at 146, 150; See also,  United States v. Lara, 181 F.3d  183 (1st Cir. 1999) at 183, 200.

[86]  See Kantengwa.; See also United States v. Gaudin, 515 U.S. 506 (1995) at  506, 509; See also Kungys v. United States, 485 U.S. 759 (1988) at 759, 770.

[87]  Id.

[88]  See Kantengwa.; See also United States v. Gaudin, 515 U.S. 506 (1995) at  506, 509; See also Kungys v. United States, 485 U.S. 759 (1988) at 759, 770.

[89]  United Nations High Commisioner for Refugees: The UN Refugee Agency.  “UNHCR Deeply Concerned About Hand-over of Rwandan Refugee by Ugandan Authorities.” Press Releases (2013).

[90]  Id.

[91]  Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Statement to the United Nations Security Council on the Situation in Darfur, the Sudan, Pursuant to UNSCR 1593 (2005). The Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC) (2010) at 2.

[92]  Id. at 2.

[93]  See Ocampo at 4.

[94]  Id. at 6-7.

[95]  The Friends of the Congo. Crisis in the Congo: Uncovering the Truth. The Filmmakers and Friends of the Congo. (2011).

[96]  Id.

[97]  Id.

[98]  See Crisis in the Congo.

[99]  Previously praised by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Jean Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, has since invaded Congo with Ugandan ally, Yoweri Museveni.  It is said that the U.S. supported this invasion by supplying the Rwandan army with mass shipments of weapons and training the troops.  Since the year 2000, the U.S. has given the Rwandan government one billion dollars—post Rwanda invading Congo.  See Crisis in the Congo.

[100] Id.

[101] Id., See also Ocampo.

[102] Id.

[103]        See Goldhagen.

[104]        Id.

[105]        Id.

[106]        See Crisis in the Congo.

[107] See Goldhagen.

[108] See PBS.

[109] Id.

[110] Anna Scott. “World Refugee Day:  Is it time to invest in refugee camps?” The Guardian News and Media. (2013).

[111] Médecins Sans Frontières Australia Field News. “Dadaab:  The Biggest Refugee Camp in the World is Full.”  Médecins Sans Frontières Australia. (2011).

[112] Id.

[113] See Médecins.

[114] See G.A. Res. 180 (III).

[115] The Heritage Foundation. “The U.S. And International Response to 9/11”. (2014).

[116] See Heritage.

[117] See PBS.

[118] Id.

[119] Id.

[120]        “After 9/11, there were consultations among the Allies and collective action was decided by the Council. The United States could also carry out independent actions, consistent with its rights and obligations under the UN Charter.  On 4 October, once it had been determined that the attacks came from abroad, NATO agreed on a package of eight measures to support the United States. On the request of the US, it launched its first ever anti-terror operation – Eagle Assist – from mid-October 2001 to mid-May 2002. It consisted in seven NATO AWACS radar aircraft that helped patrol the skies over the United States; in total 830 crew members from 13 NATO countries flew over 360 sorties. This was the first time that NATO military assets were deployed in support of an Article 5 operation.” See NATO. “Collective Defence” National Atlantic Treaty Organization. (2014).

[121]        Mahatma Gandhi–lawyer, activist, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and leader of the Indian nationalist movement– has been an inspiration to many 20th century Liberationists.  Gandhi raised awareness of economic and social oppressive practices in India, and led peaceful strikes and protests to influence and reform Indian political policy.  He adhered to Hindu values and vegetarianism, and is also known for his profound role in the animal rights movement.  In the words of Gandhi, “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”  He thought animals to be in a helpless state and all living things in need of human compassion. See A&E Television Network United Kingdom. “The History Channel:  Mahatma Gandhi”. (2013).

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