GS322 Final

By: Jacob Taylor
on for GS322

1. How was the international community culpable in the Rwandan genocide? What was the role of the US, the UN, France, and Belgium? What responsibilities do global actors have in preventing such atrocities?

The international community failed to dissuade, or failing that stop, the Rwandan genocide. In French arms, war, and genocide in Rwanda, McNulty lays out the evidence, both documented and anecdotal, that the French military's supply of small arms, training, and money to the Rwandan Patriotic Front and the Rwandan government facilitated the genocide. To be clear: it is possible that with no French intervention at the time, the genocide may not have happened. The Human Rights Watch arms project studies have shown that only a couple million dollars worth of small arms flowing into a conflict region is capable of sustaining violence. Many more than two millions flooded into Rwanda, delivered by the French military and its contractors.

The Rwandan and French militaries defend the arms shipments and training, pointing out that Rwanda was, at the time, defending against an incursion by Uganda. McNulty suggests that Rwanda would have lost the war without French intervention (as in, when the French intervened, Rwanda was already losing), but the light arms given to the Rwandan military were more than needed, and much better than what they were using. The tactics "taught" by "advisors" (field commanders, let's be real) to the Rwandan military by the French were later used to organize the genocide. The signs of an impending genocide were seen both by those on the ground, as well as international observers. The United Nations even placed an embargo on weapons importation into Rwanda, which parts of the French military and certain contractors curiously ignored. Not accidentally, either, they began (instead of occasionally) routing all weapons through neighboring nations and having them run across the border. The United States and France (the two largest weapons exporters in the world, France being the largest on the African continent) were the only two states to vote against the embargo.

In addition to France's direct culpability in the genocide, the United Nations failed to act. It passed an arms embargo that was too little, too late. The peacekeeping troops which were deployed, due to the rules of engagement that those troops must follow, could not engage until engaged with. If the genocideers completely ignore and refuse to interact with the UN peacekeepers, the peacekeepers can do nothing but sit. When they were finally engaged (and a few died), the public outcry was such that the troops were withdrawn, instead of sending more in.

Belgium's role in this genocide is historic in nature, but no less relevant. They, after taking Rwanda from Germany during World War 1, continued Germany's Pro-Tutsi government policies. Hutus, the historically persecuted group in Rwanda revolted in 1962, overthrowing the Tutsi government (with much bloodshed), taking over the government themselves, and ejecting Belgium as a colonial power. These colonizer-induced conflicts were never resolved.

Writ broadly, the issue here is one of responsibility. Who is responsible for genocide, and who is responsible for preventing it? We can say reasonably that the genocide would have never happened (some violence, perhaps, but not a large number of people dead) had the French not trained the Rwandan military, supplied them with small arms, helicopters, vehicles, and communications technology. On the other side of that, if they hadn't, consensus is that Rwanda would have lost the war with Uganda (and been an occupied territory). Some alternative future would have taken place. Assuming the French still took the actions they did, an alternative would have been an earlier, stricter, and Security-Council-Enforced weapons embargo against Rwanda, after repelling Uganda, to prevent the genocide many saw coming. Additionally, France could stop fueling conflicts on the African continent. That's bad for business, but it's the ethical/humanitarian thing to do. Many would also call for military intervention to stop the genocide – and while the argument behind this is well-meaning, it would ultimately backfire. For one, it treats the symptoms and not the causes, and for two you then have an additional combatant, increasing the geopolitical complexity that must be overcome to reach a solution. I do not personally support direct interventions such as that, and would reject any that are suggested – but I'm fully in support of actions that make it more difficult for genocidal groups to effect their plans. Those actions are the cases where boring bureaucracy and diplomacy prevents genocide.

Works Cited

Belloni, Roberto. "The Trouble with Humanitarianism." Review of International Studies 33.03 (2007): 451. Web.

Mackintosh, A. "Review Article. The International Response to Conflict and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwanda Experience Edited by David Millwood." Journal of Refugee Studies 9.3 (1996): 334-42. Web.

McNulty, Mel. "French Arms, War and Genocide in Rwanda." Crime, Law and Social Change 2nd ser. 33.1 (2000): 105-29. Web.

2. What is the nature of the humanitarian crisis in northern Uganda? What role has the international humanitarian community played in perpetuating it? In ways does the Ugandan case demonstrate, as Adam Branch argues, 'the violence of humanitarianism'? What do you think would be a better approach to humanitarian intervention in Northern Uganda.

So as not to couch the problems in Northern Uganda in too little humanity (and perhaps too much humanitarianism), what's happening in Acholiland is genocide. International humanitarian groups have been working there for almost 20 years providing food, shelter, and other basic necessities to the Acholi. This great effort and expense, while commendable, is also condemnable. The Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps that the Acholi were moved into (proper) in 1996 were created by, and in response to the policy of, the Ugandan government. The Acholi were moved into camps as part of the Ugandan government's war against the LRA, which as a convenient side benefit gives the Ugandan government a reason to round all the people the elites don't like (Acholi) and put them in camps, letting the international community come in and feed them. The Ugandan government has put forth almost no aid in support of the camps. Were the international community not there feeding the forcibly displaced Acholi, many would leave or die. They're sitting ducks rounded up into central locations in the middle of a civil war in that region of Uganda. There are statistics floating around that suggest at certain points up to 1000 people per week were dying in these camps. That is, very reasonably, genocide.

The role the international humanitarian community has played in this fiasco is to attempt partnership with the Ugandan government (military, the president has now been in office for 28 years) in service of feeding, clothing, and sheltering the million or so Acholi in the IDP camps. This financial outlay is laudable, but Adam Branch argues (paraphrasing) that it amounts to nothing positive for the Acholi, and even worse may amount to facilitation of their torture (before eventual death). The camps are, very roughly, death camps for people whom the reigning "president" does not want to deal. Ostensibly the Ugandan government created the camps to protect the Acholi from the Lord's Resistance Army (of Joseph Kony/KONY2012 fame), but at this point the camps are killing the Acholi faster than the LRA ever did. Acholi were put in the camps at the end of a gun barrel, so they're not really a refuge of any sort, and they're kept there by the same. The international humanitarian community is feeding the Acholi enough to keep most of them alive, but not healthy or happy. Barley or rice, salt, and oil, of course, isn't much to get by on.

This perpetual state of violent daily life, wherein you do not have your original community, of not having adequate food and water and shelter, of having your daily live militarized by either AFRICOM or the Ugandan military (or the LRA), are all factors in what Adam Branch calls the violence of humanitarianism. The international humanitarian community is doing, and assisting with, the violence done against the Acholi. The LRA uses violence to political ends, and in 2006 negotiated a ceasefire (signed by both parties by 2008). In the interim, the war has lasted 20 years and children have been raised in the camps for 10, with the concomitant nutrition (and possibly mental) issues.

One part of a many-faceted solution to this would be bringing Joseph Kony and the Ugandan president to the negotiating table under intense international pressure. If one were to threaten sanctions upon the president and other elites in the country (but nothing that very directly affects the majority of the country who outside of the military play little part in the problem), that might make the leaders move more quickly. Though of course there's interest in invading or giving other military assistance so one side or the other "wins" the war, that leaves whoever does so in the position of facilitating further atrocities (neither side is good to the people, in general) and killing children, as the LRA specifically brings children into its ranks and the Ugandan military ranks run very young as well. Additionally, outside assistance ameliorating the causes of the initial conflict could help ease the negotiation process. It will take bold leadership from all sides (Ugandan, LRA, humanitarian, foreign diplomat) to resolve the conflict, and begin the process of healing and reintegration.

Works Cited

Branch, Adam. Displacing Human Rights: War and Intervention in Northern Uganda. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.

Branch, Adam. "Humanitarianism, Violence, and the Camp in Northern Uganda." Civil Wars 11.4 (2009): 477-501. Web.