The Historiography of the Rwandan Genocide

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research paper on rwanda genocide

  • Scott Straus  

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In recent years, the Rwandan genocide has generated a large and growing academic literature. The disciplines and themes within the scholarship are diverse. History, political science, law, and anthropology are well represented in the academic literature, but some of the most prominent contributions come from human rights practitioners and journalists. Thematically, Rwanda is a paradigmatic case of ethnic conflict and central to the rapidly growing field of genocide studies. The case is also a touchstone for students of transitional justice, humanitarian intervention, violence, and contemporary African politics — in addition to a number of other themes. Rwanda also commands attention beyond the university, in particular, from policymakers and lay audiences — the latter, especially, after a series of high profile feature films and documentaries. Thus, despite its relative recentness, the Rwandan genocide already has given rise to a very large body of work.

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research paper on rwanda genocide

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research paper on rwanda genocide

Writers in Conflict

I would like to thank Dan Stone for comments on earlier drafts of this essay. By and large, the arguments in this essay are drawn, in part, from S. Straus, The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006).

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For other, first-rate reviews on recent Rwandan historiography or the historiography of the region, see T. Longman, ‘Placing Genocide in Context: Research Priorities for the Rwandan Genocide’, Journal of Genocide Research , 6, 1 (2004), 29–45.

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C. Young, ‘The Heart of the African Conflict Zone: Democratization, Ethnicity, Civil Conflict, and the Great Lakes Crisis’, Annual Review of Political Science , 9 (2006), 301–28.

There are many examples of this. For one typical and telling example, see the exchange quoted in S. Power, “ A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide (New York: Basic Books, 2002), pp. 355–6.

For examples of scholars and commentators citing state ‘collapse’ or ‘failure’, see E. Sciolino, ‘For West, Rwanda Is Not Worth the Political Candle’, The New York Times (15 April 1994)

I. W. Zartman, ‘Introduction: Posing the Problem of State Collapse’, Collapsed States: The Disintegration and Restoration of Legitimate Authority , ed., I. W. Zartman (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1994), p. 4.

For excellent (English-language) overviews of pre-colonial Rwanda or the Great Lakes region as a whole, see J.-P. Chrétien, The Great Lakes of Africa: Two Thousand Years of History , trans. Scott Straus (New York: Zone Books, 2003), Chs 1–3;

D. Newbury, ‘Precolonial Rwanda and Burundi: Local Loyalties, Regional Royalties’, The International Journal of African Historical Studies , 34, 2 (2001), 255–314;

D. Schoenbrun, A Green Place, A Good Place: Agrarian Change, Gender, and Social Identity in the Great Lakes Region to the 15th Century (Portsmouth/Oxford: Heinemann/James Currey, 1998);

J. Vansina, Antecedents to Modern Rwanda: The Nyiginya Kingdom (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004).

On these points, see (in addition to the sources in note 4) C. Newbury, The Cohesion of Oppression: Clientship and Ethnicity in Rwanda, 1860–1960 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988).

On the Hamitic Hypothesis and the racialization of Rwanda’s social categories, see in particular Chrétien, The Great Lakes of Africa , Ch. 4 and M. Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001).

For English-language accounts of the Revolution period, see in particular R. Lemarchand, Rwanda and Burundi (London: Pall Mall, 1970);

I. Linden, Church and Revolution in Rwanda (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1977); and Newbury, The Cohesion of Oppression.

L. Melvern, A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide (London: Zed Books, 2000), p. 25.

P. Uvin, ‘Ethnicity and Power in Burundi and Rwanda: Different Paths to Mass Violence’, Comparative Politics , 31, 3 (1999), 253–71.

G. Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995).

There exists a thorough book on the multi-party process in French: J. Bertrand, Rwanda, le piège de l’histoire (Paris: Karthala, 2001). See also Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis , pp. 121–6.

The Rwandan media have received considerable attention. In English, see, in particular, the ‘media trial’ in which three Rwandan journalists were found guilty of genocide: International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, ‘The Prosecutor v. Ferdinand Nahimana, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, and Hassan Ngeze’, ICTR Case No. 99-52-T, Judgement and Decision, December 3, 2003, available at . See also Article 19, Broadcasting Genocide: Censorship, Propaganda & State-Sponsored Violence in Rwanda 1990–1994 (London: Article 19, 1996); F. Chalk, ‘Hate Radio in Rwanda’, The Path of a Genocide: The Rwanda Crisis from Uganda to Zaire , eds, H. Adelman and A. Suhrke (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1999), pp. 93–107.

D. Li, ‘Echoes of Violence: Considerations on Radio and Genocide in Rwanda’, Journal of Genocide Research , 6, 1 (2004), 9–27.

For an extensive treatment in French, see J.-P. Chrétien et al., Rwanda: les médias du génocide (Paris: Karthala, 1995).

An excellent analysis of the Arusha negotiations is B. Jones, Peacekeeping in Rwanda: The Dynamics of Failure (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2001).

In addition to those works cited in the paragraph itself, this basic version of the historiography can be found in the background sections of the various judgments that have come from the ICTR; A. Destexhe, Rwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century , trans. A. Marschner (New York: New York University Press, 1995);

J. Hatzfeld, Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak , trans. L. Coverdale (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2005);

H. Hintjens, ‘Explaining the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda’, The Journal of Modern African Studies , 37, 2 (1999), 241–86;

Jones, Peacemaking in Rwanda ; R. Melson, ‘Modern Genocide in Rwanda: Ideology, Revolution, War, and Mass Murder in an African State’, The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective , eds, R. Gellately and B. Kiernan (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 325–38;

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Melvern, A People Betrayed ; L. Melvern, Conspiracy to Murder: The Rwandan Genocide (London: Verso, 2004); Organization of African Unity, Rwanda: The Preventable Genocide. The Report of the International Panel of Eminent Personalities to Investigate the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda and the Surrounding Events , July 7, 2000, available at /images/stories/oaureport.pdf;

C. Scherrer, Genocide and Crisis in Central Africa: Conflict Roots, Mass Violence, and Regional War (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002);

A. Twagilimana, The Debris of Ham: Ethnicity, Regionalism, and the 1994 Rwandan Genocide (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2003);

P. Uvin, Aiding Violence: The Development Enterprise in Rwanda (West Hartford, CT: Kumarian Press, 1998).

R. Dallaire with B. Beardsley, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda (Toronto: Random House Canada, 2003).

République Rwandaise, ‘Dénombrement des victimes du génocide: Analyse des resultats, draft’ (Kigali: Ministère de l’administration locale et des affaires sociales, 2001), p. 7.

On this calculation as well as references to the other estimates cited here, see S. Straus, ‘How Many Perpetrators Were There in the Rwandan Genocide? An Estimate’, Journal of Genocide Research , 6, 1 (2004), 85–98.

Hatzfeld, Machete Season ; and J. Hatzfeld, Into the Quick of Life: The Rwandan Genocide. The Survivors Speak , trans. G. Feehily (London: Serpent’s Tail, 2005).

P. Rusesabagina with T. Zoellner, An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography (New York: Viking, 2006);

L. Mushikiwabo and J. Kramer, Rwanda Means the Universe: A Native’s Memoir of Blood and Bloodlines (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006).

For a memoir primarily about Hutu refugees in Zaire after the genocide, but one that also deals with the period during and before the 1994 violence, see B. Umutesi, Surviving the Slaughter: The Ordeal of a Rwandan Refugee in Zaire , trans. J. Emerson (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004).

For a religiously oriented book emphasizing forgiveness, see I. Ilibagiza with S. Erwin, Left to Tell: Discovering God amidst the Rwandan Holocaust (Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2006).

R. Lyons and S. Straus, Intimate Enemy: Images and Voices of the Rwandan Genocide (New York: Zone Books, 2006).

T. Longman, ‘Genocide and Socio-Political Change: Massacres in Two Rwandan Villages’, Issue: A Journal of Opinion , 23, 2 (1995), 18–21.

M. Wagner, ‘All the Burgomaster’s Men: Making Sense of the Rwandan Genocide’, Africa Today , 45, 1 (1998), 25–36.

L. A. Fujii, Killing Neighbors: Social Dimensions of Genocide in Rwanda (PhD dissertation, George Washington University, 2006);

On structural violence, see Uvin, Aiding Violence ; on population growth and environmental stress, see J. Gasana, ‘Remember Rwanda?’, World Watch , 15, 5 (2002), 26–35;

C. André and J.-P. Platteau, ‘Land Relations under Unbearable Stress: Rwanda Caught in a Malthusian Trap’, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization , 34 (1998), 1–47;

S. Khan, The Shallow Graves of Rwanda (London: I.B. Tauris, 2000), p. 66;

J. Waller, Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 69; on a ‘culture of obedience’, see Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis , pp. 57, 245;

R. de Figueiredo and B. Weingast, ‘The Rationality of Fear: Political Opportunism and Ethnic Conflict’, Civil Wars, Insecurity, and Intervention , eds, B. Walter and J. Snyder (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), pp. 261–301;

On security fears or more specifically a ‘security dilemma’ see R. Lemarchand, ‘Disconnecting the Threads: Rwanda and the Holocaust Reconsidered’, Idea: Journal of Genocide Research , 4, 4(2002), pp. 499–518; online at /articles.php?sup=11. and on ethnic antipathy and belief in anti-Tutsi ideology, see Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis , pp. 40, 246, 248; Destexhe, Rwanda and Genocide , p. 28; Gourevitch, We Wish To Inform You , p. 94; Khan, The Shallow Graves of Rwanda , p. 66; Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers , p. 14; Scherrer, Genocide and Crisis , pp. 119–22.

M. Mann, The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

M. Midlarsky, The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

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B. Valentino, Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the Twentieth Century (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004).

E. Neuffer, The Key to My Neighbor’s House: Seeking Justice in Bosnia and Rwanda (New York: Picador, 2001), p. 276.

Human Rights Watch, ‘Shattered Lives: Sexual Violence During the Rwandan Genocide and Its Aftermath’, New York, September, 1996.

An analysis of gender and sexual violence during and before the genocide can be found in C. C. Taylor, Sacrifice as Terror: The Rwandan Genocide of 1994 (Oxford: Berg Books, 1999), Ch. 4.

See, in particular, the testimony of former RPF officer: A. Ruzibiza, Rwanda: L’histoire secrète (Paris: Éditions du Panama, 2005).

The investigation was led by Jean-Louis Bruguière; for a discussion of the report’s conclusions, see S. Smith, ‘L’enquête sur l’attentat qui fit basculer le Rwanda dans le génocide’, Le Monde (9 March 2004).

L. Marchal, ‘Il est grand temps de faire la clarté sur la tragédie rwandaise’, Le Soir (25 October 2005), p. 15.

Alan Kuperman, for example, claims that the RPF ‘provoked a retaliatory genocide’: A. Kuperman, ‘Provoking Genocide: A Revised History of the Rwandan Patriotic Front’, Journal of Genocide Research , 6, 1 (2004), 61–84.

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, ‘The Prosecutor Versus Clément Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana’, Case No. ICTR-95-I-T, paragraph 275, available at . On a pre-assassination plan for genocide, see also Jones, Peacemaking in Rwanda , pp. 35, 119 and J. Pottier, Re-Imagining Rwanda: Conflict, Survival, and Disinformation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 31.

Existing treatments include P. Verwimp, ‘Testing the Double-Genocide Thesis for Central and Southern Rwanda’, Journal of Conflict Resolution , 47, 4 (2003), 423–42; Des Forges, Leave None , pp. 724–31; and Ruzibiza, Rwanda .

S. Feil, Preventing Genocide: How the Early Use of Force Might Have Succeeded in Rwanda , Carnegie Commission On Preventing Deadly Conflict, New York, April 1998.

A. Kuperman, The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention: Genocide in Rwanda (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2001).

See, for examples, A. Des Forges, ‘Shame: Rationalizing Western Apathy on Rwanda’, Foreign Affairs , 79, 3 (2000), 141–3.

S. Power, ‘Bystanders to Genocide: Why the United States Let the Rwandan Tragedy Happen’, The Atlantic Monthly , 288 (September 2001), 84–109

M. Barnett, Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002).

For an excellent review of the literature on the international decision to withdraw troops, see B. Valentino, ‘Still Standing By: Why America and the International Community Fail to Prevent Genocide and Mass Killing’, Perspectives on Politics , 1, 3 (2003), 565–76.

On this issue, see S. Straus, ‘Darfur and the Genocide Debate’, Foreign Affairs , 84, 1 (2005), 123–33.

For good overviews, see in International Crisis Group, ‘International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: Justice Delayed’, Africa Report No. 30 (7 June 2001);

A. Des Forges and T. Longman, ‘Legal Responses to Genocide in Rwanda’, My Neighbor, My Enemy: Justice and Community in the Aftermath of Mass Atrocity , eds, E. Stover and H. Weinstein (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 51–7.

One of the keenest observers of the tribunal is: T. Cruvellier, Le Tribunal des vaincus: Un Nuremburg pour le Rwanda? (Paris: Calman-Lévy, 2006).

Victor Peskin, International Justice in Rwanda and the Balkans: Virtual Trials and the Struggle for State Cooperation (New York: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2008).

K. Moghalu, Rwanda’s Genocide: The Politics of Global Justice (New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2005).

P. Uvin and C. Mironko, ‘Western and Local Approaches to Justice in Rwanda’, Global Governance , 9 (2003), 223.

On this latter point and for a good overview, see Des Forges and Longman, ‘Legal Responses’, pp. 58–62; for a more positive account than Des Forges and Longman, see W. Schabas, ‘Genocide Trials and Gacaca Courts’, Journal of International Criminal Justice , 3 (2005), 879–895.

For an outstanding overview, see L. Waldorf, ‘Mass Justice for Mass Crimes’, Temple Law Review , 79, 1 (2006), 1–87.

For shorter accounts, see Uvin and Mironko, ‘Western and Local Approaches’, and Schabas, ‘Genocide Trials’; and, for a more thorough and historical account, A. Molenaar, ‘Gacaca: Grassroots Justice after Genocide. The Key to Reconciliation in Rwanda?’, Leiden African Studies Research Centre Research Report , 77 (2005).

On these points, see F. Reyntjens, ‘Rwanda, Ten Years On: From Genocide to Dictatorship’, African Affairs , 103 (2004), 177–210;

Front Line, ‘Disappearances, Arrests, Threats, Intimidation and Co-option of Human Rights Defenders 2001–2004’ (Dublin: Front Line, 2005);

Human Rights Watch, ‘Preparing for Elections: Tightening Control in the Name of Unity’, New York, 8 May 2003;

International Crisis Group, ‘Rwanda at the End of the Transition: A Necessary Political Liberalisation’, ICG Africa Report No. 53 (13 November 2002).

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Straus, S. (2008). The Historiography of the Rwandan Genocide. In: Stone, D. (eds) The Historiography of Genocide. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

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After the genocide: what scientists are learning from Rwanda

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A 1994 photograph shows the altar in Ntarama Church, where more than 5,000 people were murdered during the genocide against the Tutsi. Credit: Lane Montgomery/Getty

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  • Published: 11 April 2019

The long-term health consequences of genocide: developing GESQUQ - a genocide studies checklist

  • Jutta Lindert 1 , 2 ,
  • Ichiro Kawachi 3 ,
  • Haim Y. Knobler 4 ,
  • Moshe Z. Abramowitz 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 ,
  • Sandro Galea 5 ,
  • Bayard Roberts 6 ,
  • Richard Mollica 7 &
  • Martin McKee 6  

Conflict and Health volume  13 , Article number:  14 ( 2019 ) Cite this article

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Genocide is an atrocity that seeks to destroy whole populations, leaving empty countries, empty spaces and empty memories, but also a large health burden among survivors is enormous. We propose a genocide reporting checklist to encourage consistent high quality in studies designed to provide robust and reliable data on the long term impact of genocide.

An interdisciplinary (Public Health, epidemiology, psychiatry, medicine, sociology, genocide studies) and international working committee of experts from Germany, Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom used an iterative consensus process to develop a genocide studies checklist for studies of the long term health consequences.

We created a list of eight domains (A Ethical approval, B External validity, C Misclassification, D Study design, E Confounder, F Data collection, G Withdrawal) with 1–3 specific items (total 17).

The genocide studies checklist is easy to use for authors, journal editors, peer reviewers, and others involved in documenting the health consequences of genocide.

Genocides have brought immeasurable suffering to millions of people in the 20th and the early years of the twenty-first century. [ 1 , 2 ] They have attracted the attention of researchers from a range of disciplines, including epidemiologists, historians, political scientists, psychologists, anthropologists, demographers, and others, with genocide studies emerging as a distinct body of scholarship. Each discipline offers important perspectives on a phenomenon whose horror is beyond the imagination of most people. The impact of genocide continues long after the killing has ended, leaving lifelong scars on survivors and, potentially, their offspring. [ 2 ] Yet, as revealed in a recent systematic review, this research has taken a wide variety of approaches and produced heterogeneous, and, in some cases, conflicting findings, suggesting a range of consequences between severe long term impact and no impact. [ 2 ] This conflicting evidence leads to several conclusions.

First, genocide - as defined in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9th of December 1948 as General Assembly Resolution 260 (III, article 2) - can take many forms, from the semi-organized chaos of Rwanda systematic murder of Jews by Nazis and/or their allies in the Genocide termed the Holocaust, with differences in exposures to mass atrocities (e.g. duration, types of genocidal acts). The Convention defines genocide as an attempt “to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” Genocidal acts include “killing members of the group; [and] causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group”, and deliberately inflicting “conditions of life, calculated to bring about [a group’s] physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”. [ 3 ] These definitions suggest a breadth of exposures that can be associated with genocide. Table  1 lists those events that have been designated officially by the United Nations as genocides, as well as the range of estimates of those killed and the percentages of the target populations affected.

A second concern relates to methodological differences among studies. For example, studies reviewing the mental health impact of genocides have investigated a variety of outcomes, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia [ 4 , 5 ], suicide [ 6 , 7 ], post-traumatic stress as well post-traumatic growth. Some studies documented a negative impact, while others found resilience or no association notwithstanding immense cruelties to which survivors had been exposed. [ 8 ] Some of this variability may be due to the methodological challenges inherent in conducting studies on populations affected by genocide. Some are common to any epidemiological research and include recruitment bias, measurement error, and the need to adjustment for potential confounding. Attempts to attribute symptoms to the experience of genocide may be complicated by confounding factors unrelated to the genocide, such as discrimination in another country due to migration or poverty. [ 9 ] Other factors, however, are specific to genocide research. One is memoralization, whereby groups valorize, marginalize, or disable acts of remembrance, or forgetting. [ 10 , 11 ] Anthropological research has reported how some genocide survivors or children of survivors challenge the pathologizing construct of long term impact of genocides. It can be politically expedient to pathologize the long term consequences of genocide, or, conversely, to deny the long term impacts of genocides as part of an attempt to relieve the perpetrator from responsibility for having committed genocide. Disorders associated with genocide are therefore subject to the influence of various interests, institutions, and political interests.

The need for clear, transparent, and reliable reporting of research has led to important initiatives such as the Strengthening Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology Statement (STROBE). [ 12 ] The STROBE statement, published in 2007, is an evidence-based 22 item set of recommendations for reporting observational studies (cohort studies, case-control studies, and cross-sectional studies) and has been credited with improvements in quality of reporting. [ 13 ] However, the STROBE statement is designed to apply to all observational studies, [ 8 ] and it does not adequately capture some of the key challenges inherent in post-genocide research.

Seeking to address this shortcoming, an international group of experts (JL, MZA, HJK, SG, RM, BR, MMcK, IK) with a specific interest in genocide and health worked together on a systematic review. [ 2 ] Important gaps in STROBE that were specific to studies of genocide and health were identified and agreement was reached that an extension of STROBE was warranted. Thus, the QUALITY ASSESSMENT TOOL FOR QUANTITATIVE GENOCIDE STUDIES (GESUQ) initiative was established as an international collaborative project to address these issues. Herein, we propose recommendations for reporting genocide and related research.

First, we searched for any existing reporting guideline covering long term impacts of genocide. Second, we sought relevant evidence regarding the quality of reporting. Neither search yielded any results. Third, we identified experts (i.e., methodologists, psychiatrists, epidemiologists, and genocide experts) who could advise on potential sources of bias, from relevant genocide projects and reference documents. They were then asked for recommendations. Fourth, the group met in person and via Skype meetings to agree the wording of the statements. Stakeholders reviewed the statements and provided feedback. The final checklist and this explanatory document were drafted by the three members of the working committee. During two face-to-face and three skype meetings, members of the group discussed the input received and prepared new versions that were circulated until consensus on all items was reached.

Items in the GESUQ checklist

The complete GESUQ checklist is provided in the Additional file 1 . In the following sections we explain the rationale for choosing items A-H in GESUQ.

A. Ethical approval

Research on the impact of genocide must adhere to same ethical standards that guide all other research. [ 14 ] This includes that all research participants have the capacity to provide informed consent. As in other research, investigators should maintain the principles of approval of research by institutional review boards (IRBs) respecting not only confidentiality and privacy but the importance of expertise in genocide research within the research team, including the specific genocide-related challenges that exist. Among these challenges are extra provisions to minimize harm to human subjects (e.g. the potential for retaliation from those who perpetrated the genocide), and extra steps to provide medical resources / referral to people still suffering from lingering mental health effects. Given the particular risk of causing distress by asking questions about past events in this vulnerable population there is a need to ensure mechanisms for referral information for mental health support. These ethical questions are especially difficult in situations in which genocide perpetrators, genocide victims, and genocide bystanders are forced to live together even after the genocide (e.g. in the case of Rwanda [ 15 ]).

B. External validity and selection bias

In genocide studies as in other epidemiological studies, attention to sampling methods is crucial. Often in the early aftermath of genocide, health studies either comprise only convenience samples or clinical samples (populations that manifest some kind of pathology, i.e. post-traumatic symptoms) and have sought and obtained care. This is understandable given the challenges of recruitment but is likely to introduce bias as such participants go through several stages of selection and thus, both in practice and theory, may differ from participants drawn from random samples of those exposed. Random sampling should therefore be used. Where this is not possible, analyses should include appropriate weighting. This can avoid the challenge of biased estimates of the incidence and prevalence of certain disorders (e.g., Posttraumatic Stress Disorder). Given the difficulty of random sampling in many settings, alternative methods such as respondent driven sampling may be useful adjuncts. [ 16 ]

It is important to recognize the inevitable scope for survivor bias, both in terms of surviving the events in question and their sequelae. Consequently, and to a greater degree with genocide than many other exposures, any sample will not be representative of all those exposed.

C. Avoiding misclassification

Any flaw in measuring exposure, outcome, or covariates can overestimate or underestimate the true value of the association. [ 17 , 18 , 19 ] This is a challenge in many areas of epidemiology, but is especially so with genocide. Does exposure include direct and indirect exposure (such as the death of family members or friends, and if so, in the presence or absence of the subject)? How is the duration of exposure measured? Reporting of genocide exposure should include the nature, intensity, and length of exposure. This assessment of exposure could draw on approaches adopted in other areas of epidemiology, such as the job-exposure matrix used in occupational epidemiology. [ 20 , 21 ] Accordingly, assessment of exposure should be quantified systematically. For example, one could inquire about direct personal experiences of genocide (e.g. whether one’s relatives were killed). But in genocide research it is also relevant to assess exposure to genocide even if someone was not directly affected - i.e. there may be spillover effects of genocide in a community. [ 22 ] In genocide research both direct and indirect exposures are of interest. Research on the impact of genocide on subsequent generations creates additional challenges, in measuring both the nature and timing of exposure. [ 2 , 5 ] Our guidelines seek to guide researchers to be explicit about why the exposure measurement was carried out in a certain way.

Genocide studies seek accuracy in reporting the incidence, prevalence, and burden of disease so avoiding diagnostic errors is crucial. It is essential to understand the psychometric properties of health measures used among those affected by genocide. Expressions of suffering due to genocide may differ by populations. In the area of mental health, the DSM-5 [ 23 ] emphasizes the need for measures that capture culturally grounded concepts of distress, [ 24 ] something that is largely missing from genocide studies so far.

D. Study design

Most genocide studies will, inevitably, be retrospective and observational, e.g. case-control or cohort studies. The selection of controls is a major challenge as they should resemble, as closely as possible, those who experienced the genocide without themselves being exposed. The objective of genocide studies therefore is to find an unexposed control group that resembles the exposed group as closely as possible. For example, in studies of the health effects of the Holocaust, investigators have compared Jews who emigrated to Israel before and after the Holocaust. However, even this design poses challenges, since there will be many unobserved factors that could confound the comparison being made, e.g. those who escaped before the Holocaust may have had more extensive social networks to help them escape, and stronger social networks would make such individuals more resilient to adverse mental health effects.

Research undertaken in Israel has used the National Population Register. This is a unique resource for genocide studies. [ 4 ] However, should such a situation arise in the future, the ability to use a similar resource will depend upon the nature of consent given at enrolment, the degree of anonymisation, and the data protection laws in place in the country concerned.

F. Confounders

If the question of interest involves identifying the causal effects of genocide experience on mental health outcomes, the investigator must identify (and control for) factors that influence the probability of both the exposure and the outcome being studied. For example, in a study of exposure to genocide and the outcome of poor mental health, socioeconomic disadvantage could be a confounder. Someone disadvantaged in this way may be less able to escape the that would make a person less able to escape the direct and indirect effects of genocide, for example because of fewer material resources. However, there is also a well-recognized association between disadvantage and adverse mental health outcomes. It is good epidemiological practice to control for confounders but it is also important not to over control. Thus, genocide is often the final end-result of many decades (perhaps even centuries) of unjust treatment of a particular group in society. Hence, a confounder such as “low socioeconomic status” may itself represent an effect of the underlying injustice which preceded genocide. For example, immediately before and during the Holocaust, many Jewish children and adolescents were excluded from studies in public schools. One would not control for “confounding” by educational attainment in this instance, because interruption of schooling is part of the exposure (the Holocaust) that we are trying to understand. Likewise, the experience of escaping from the genocide constitutes a part of the exposure.

There are several approaches to addressing these issues, including the thorough review of the literature and use of methods such as directed acyclic graphs (DAGs), [ 25 ] multivariable regression to help adjust for potential confounders and structural equation modelling (path analysis). [ 26 ]

F. Data collection methods

Data can be collected in ad hoc surveys or, in rare cases, as with the Israeli National Population Register, from routine sources, as noted above. Valid and reliable assessment of exposures and outcomes requires carefully developed instruments, which have ideally been evaluated in different cultural settings. The attributes (e.g. recall period, question/response format) and mode of administration (e.g. interviewer-, self-administered) of existing instruments are extremely varied and many have not been evaluated for use in different cultural contexts or age groups.

In summary, there are substantial challenges in epidemiological studies of survivors of mass atrocities, crimes against humanity, and genocide. However, data are needed to better serve this population. The GESUQ guidelines are a first step to better understand the mental health impact of mass atrocities, crimes against humanity, and genocide. These proposed guidelines are specific to observational genocide research and serve as starting point for improving epidemiological research on the impact of violence on health. GESUQ was created as a guide for authors, journal editors, peer reviewers, and other stakeholders to encourage researchers to improve the quality and completeness of reporting in genocide and war epidemiology. To our knowledge, our guidelines are the first to have been proposed for use specifically in genocide studies. As with other reporting guidelines, these complement the instructions in editorial and review processes to ensure a clear and transparent account of the research conducted. Experts we contacted generally welcomed the initiative and provided constructive feedback. The checklist will subsequently be translated into other languages, and disseminated widely. Ongoing feedback is encouraged to improve it.

While GESUQ represents our best attempt to reflect the interest and priorities of stakeholders and the interested public in genocide research, we recognize that the methods used in observational health research are changing rapidly, and the availability of different types of data for such research is expanding. For example, mobile health applications (mHealth apps) are becoming widely available for smartphones and wearable technologies. While there is limited experience so far with these data sources in genocide research, we anticipate rapid growth in the near future. Additionally, health care providers in for instance Israel offer good registry data on more outcomes than government data that can be linked to Holocaust exposure without sample selection.

The nature of genocide poses some obvious limitations on the conduct of associated research. First, while we have described this instrument as one for use in genocide studies, the international community has shown a great reluctance to use the term “genocide” because of the implications, in particular the “responsibility to protect”. However, the issues we have discussed in developing this instrument will be equally applicable in many situations involving large scale killings that are not subsequently labelled as genocide. Second, it will continue to be extremely difficult to collect data in real time and any attempt to do so would face a myriad of methodological and ethical challenges, as was apparent in studies seeking to quantify the death toll in post-invasion Iraq. Consideration of these issues goes beyond the scope of this paper.


We have created GESUQ in the form of a checklist, trying to take account of and learn from existing guidelines. While we anticipate that GESUQ will change as research methods evolve, these guidelines should encourage better reporting of research over the coming years. With implementation by authors, journal editors, and peer reviewers, we anticipate that GESUQ will improve transparency, reproducibility, and completeness of reporting of research on genocide and health and, especially, much-needed research on evidence-based interventions for genocide affected populations.


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research paper on rwanda genocide

The Rwanda Genocide

Genocides have continued to occur since the Holocaust. This was the case, for example, in Rwanda in 1994. Over a period of 100 days, from April to July 1994, as many as one million people, mostly Tutsis, were massacred. This occurred when an extremist-led Hutu government launched a plan to wipe out Rwanda’s entire Tutsi minority and any others who opposed its policies.

From April to July 1994, extremist leaders of Rwanda’s Hutu majority directed a genocide against the country’s Tutsi minority.

Killings occurred openly throughout Rwanda on roads and in fields, churches, schools, government buildings, and homes. Entire families were killed at a time.

In response to the violence, the United Nations established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to bring to justice those accused of high level crimes.

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Rwanda and its Neighbors

Rwanda was ruled by leaders of the Hutu majority from the time it gained independence in 1962 until the genocide in 1994. During this period, the country’s Tutsi minority suffered systematic discrimination. They were also the targets of periodic outbreaks of mass violence. Hundreds of thousands of Tutsis fled the country in the 1960s and 1970s. 

In 1990, a Tutsi rebel force invaded Rwanda from the north. Hard-line Hutu politicians accused Rwandan Tutsis of supporting the rebels. After the war reached a stalemate, Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana signed a peace agreement. The terms enabled Rwanda to transition to a government in which Hutus and Tutsis would share power. The agreement angered Hutu extremists. In response, they armed Hutu paramilitary forces and waged a vicious propaganda campaign against the Tutsis.

The One Hundred Day Genocide

On the evening of April 6, 1994, President Habyarimana was killed. A surface-to-air missile shot down his plane as it was landing in Kigali, the Rwandan capital. Who fired the missile remains in dispute. However, extremist leaders of Rwanda’s Hutu majority seized the assassination as the opportunity to launch a carefully planned campaign to wipe out the country’s Tutsis. They also targeted moderate Hutu leaders who might have opposed this program of genocide . 

Political and other high profile leaders who might have been able to prevent the genocide were killed immediately. Violence spread through the capital and into the rest of the country. The genocide continued for roughly three months. 

As the level of violence escalated, groups of Tutsis fled to places that in previous times of turmoil had provided safety: churches, schools, and government buildings. Many of these refuges became the sites of major massacres. The Rwandan military and Hutu paramilitary forces carried out the massacres using guns and explosives. 

In addition to mass killings, thousands and thousands of Tutsis and people suspected of being Tutsis were killed in their homes and fields and on the road. Militias set up roadblocks across the country to prevent the victims from escaping. In cities, towns, and even the tiniest villages, Hutus answered the call of their local leaders to murder their Tutsi neighbors. Entire families were killed at a time, often hacked to death with machetes. Women were systematically and brutally raped. 

Hundreds of thousands of Rwandan Hutus participated in the genocide. As many as one million people, mostly Tutsis, were slaughtered in 100 days.

The genocide ended when the Tutsi-dominated rebel movement, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), captured Kigali. The RPF overthrew the Hutu government and seized power. The new government announced a policy of “unity and reconciliation.” It adopted a new constitution that guaranteed equal rights for all Rwandans regardless of their group. 

More than one million Hutus, including many of the genocidaires, fled to neighboring countries. In Zaire, today the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the refugees’ presence helped spark two international conflicts and ongoing insurgencies. More than five million people have died in the violence.

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

On September 2, 1998, the ICTR delivered the first conviction for genocide by an international court. It ruled that Jean-Paul Akayesu was guilty of inciting and leading acts of violence against Tutsi civilians in the town where he served as mayor. This judgment was also the first by an international court to define rape as a crime in international law and to recognize rape as a means of committing genocide.

In another landmark case, the ICTR convicted a newspaper publisher and a radio station owner of the crime of incitement to genocide (a third defendant was found guilty as well, but was acquitted on appeal). It was the first time since the Nuremberg trial of the major German war criminals that an international court examined the responsibility of the media for mass atrocities.  

In all, the ICTR indicted 93 persons and convicted 62 for crimes in connection with the genocide. Those prosecuted included high-level military and government officials, politicians and businessmen, and religious, media, and militia leaders.  

Within Rwanda, the national courts tried more than 10,000 persons for planning the genocide or committing atrocities. In 2005, the government also implemented the traditional community court system known as gacaca (pronounced ga-CHA-cha). These courts heard the cases of the additional hundreds of thousands of Rwandans accused of participating in the genocide. In communities throughout the country, locally elected judges heard victims and witnesses testify. The judges also gave the defendants the opportunity to confess and ask for forgiveness. The gacaca courts tried more than 1.2 million cases before they closed in 2012.

Critical Thinking Questions

  • Investigate the world and UN responses to the events in Rwanda.
  • Why would the label of genocide be opposed or denied by other countries?
  • How might citizens and officials within a nation identify and respond to warning signs of genocide or mass atrocity? What obstacles might be faced?
  • How might other countries and international organizations respond to warning signs within a nation? What obstacles may exist?

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The Rwandan Genocide: How and Why It Happened Research Paper


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets a high standard for nations across the world. Proclaimed on December 10, 1948, the Declaration recognizes the equality and dignity of all human beings. In particular, Article 3 acknowledges everyone’s right to life, liberty, and security. Article 5 prohibits torture and offers protection against inhuman or degrading treatment (United Nations [UN], n.d.). Established on the foundations of sovereign equality and maintenance of international peace and security, the United Nations and its agencies take responsibility for setting and upholding human rights standards (Mingst et al., 2019). However, in certain cases, the UN fails to fulfill its duties, which results in catastrophic consequences. Ghosts of Rwanda, a documentary film revisiting the heinous 1994 Rwandan genocide, explains why the UN and the governments of the developed countries silently witnessed such atrocities instead of protecting human rights. After watching this film, one can understand the real causes of seemingly unfathomable callousness and indifference.

The fire of genocide was fueled for a long time, as tensions between the Tutsi and Hutu, two major ethnicities of Rwanda, had been brewing since the pre-colonial era. The Tutsi minority ruled Hutus for centuries, often treating them with disdain (runetek2, 2014). However, the Belgian colonial period played the most critical role in the tragic events of 1994. The Belgian government emphasized racial differences between the Tutsis and the Hutus to create a convenient system of colonial governance (Schimmel, 2021). Under Belgian colonial rule, Tutsis retained their privileged position in Rwandan society. This situation changed after the 1959 Revolution when Rwanda won independence from the metropole. Despite surrendering its sovereignty over Rwanda, Belgium maintained significant influence over Rwandan politics. The Belgians essentially switched sides and supported the new, Hutu-dominated Rwandan government (Schimmel, 2021). As a result, Tutsis have instantly lost their privileges and become a persecuted minority.

As the once-oppressed Hutu majority turned its wrath against the Tutsi, many Tutsis left Rwanda and organized armed resistance to the Hutu regime. In October 1990, the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) launched an invasion from neighboring Uganda (Álvarez, 2018). One should note that RPF also included so-called “moderate Hutus”, who did not support the anti-Tutsi discrimination in Rwanda. In August 1993, the fighting ended with a ceasefire — the RPF and the Hutu government concluded the Arusha accord, which was supposed to start reconciliation between the two peoples (Álvarez, 2018). At the same time, the UN launched the UNAMIR peacekeeping mission to oversee the peace process (runetek2, 2014). However, the hopes of peace died in a few months, and neither the UN nor other international actors could stop the horrible genocide.

More precisely, the UN and several Western powers had the opportunities and resources to prevent the genocide or stop it once it started but decided against doing that. In January 1994, General Romeo Dallaire, Commander of the UNAMIR forces, was informed on the preparation of attacks against Tutsis, moderate Hutus, and UN peacekeepers from Belgium (runetek2, 2014, 9:00). Dallaire took the information seriously and contacted Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, in order to receive permission to raid the weapon caches of the Hutu extremists. However, Annan explicitly instructed Dallaire to refrain from using force, so the raids were canceled. According to Michael Sheenan, the White House Liaison in Somalia, the UN and the U.S. were reluctant to intervene in another African conflict after the failure of the peacekeeping operation in Mogadishu (runetek2, 2014, 12:42). Eighteen American peacekeepers were killed on that UN mission, so the UN and the United States desperately tried to avoid similar failures (runetek2, 2014). Ultimately, the UN and the U.S. chose to wait, and the Hutu extremists exploited their willful indifference.

On April 6, 1994, the Rwandan president’s plane was shot down, and the Hutu extremists promptly put their genocidal plan in motion. Mass killings of Tutsis and moderate Hutus began immediately; the Rwandan army, presidential guard, and police assisted irregular militias in genocide (runetek2, 2014). In the aftermath, approximately 750,000 Tutsis were killed over ten weeks (Mingst et al., 2019). One may wonder why the UN, the United States, or the countries with long colonial history in the region, such as France and Belgium, did not act once the true scale of genocide became evident. The reason behind the inaction of Rwandans was clear – the extremist Hutu government created a genocidal frame, where a refusal to participate in killings was considered treason (Armoudian, 2020). Moderate Hutus had no choice but to flee the country or hide from bloodthirsty killers. However, even in such a dire situation, some Hutus risked their lives to rescue Tutsis. For instance, Pastor Augustine hid over 300 people despite threats from militias (Fox & Nyseth Brehm, 2018). Therefore, the true explanation of international inaction lies in bureaucracy and cynicism of global politics.

In terms of cynicism, the UN, the United States, Belgium, and France were more concerned about maintaining a good public outlook under difficult circumstances rather than helping Rwandan civilians. Before the beginning of mass killings, the UN and the United States strived to avoid another failure like Mogadishu. Once the genocide had begun, the United States, Belgium, and France preferred to prioritize the safety of their citizens. In particular, Belgium and France sent paratroopers to evacuate all Belgians and French from Rwanda (runetek2, 2014). According to Brent Beardsley, General Dallaire’s assistant, those soldiers could have stopped the genocide if they had been deployed to reinforce the UN troops (runetek2, 2014, 36:26). However, Belgium, France, and the United States decided to limit their involvement to saving their citizens instead of intervening in an undesirable conflict. In addition, the bureaucratic complexities associated with the legal definition of genocide created a deadlock. Governments across the world avoided calling mass killings in Rwanda “genocide” (runetek2, 2014, 1:25:51). As a result, the global community has become effectively paralyzed, which was a satisfactory outcome for major international actors and a tragedy for General Dallaire and ordinary Rwandans.

In other words, the inaction of the most culpable international actors — the UN, the United States, Belgium, and France, was a deliberate political move rather than an inability to act. Álvarez (2018) explained the rationale for leaving Rwandans to their deaths. Firstly, the UN was preoccupied with peacekeeping efforts in former Yugoslavia, a country in the middle of Europe. Secondly, the United States saw no reason for intervention due to the lack of national interests in Rwanda. Thirdly, the Belgian government showed the nation that the lives of Belgian soldiers matter by withdrawing all Belgian troops from the UNAMIR task force. Finally, France committed its troops to the UNAMIR II peacekeeping mission only in July 1994, when the military victory of RPF was evident (Álvarez, 2018). The criminalization of genocide in international law allowed the culpable actors to justify non-intervention by ignoring the genocide. An example of such a tactic can be seen in Christine Shelly’s words, who said that one has to know all facts before using the term (runetek2, 2014, 1:26:23). Consequently, UN and all states of the world had a perfectly legal justification for their indifference.

The media helped build the false narrative that served the goal of justifying inaction. According to Schimmel (2011), the Western media deliberately distorted the actual events to hide the true extent of atrocities. In the U.S. case, the genocide was portrayed as a part of the civil war rather than a standalone extermination of Tutsis and moderate Hutus (Schimmel, 2011). As a result, the U.S. audience perceived merciless ethnic cleansing similar to the Vietnam War, when the U.S. military intervened and suffered heavy casualties. Consequently, the public was unaware of the real situation in Rwanda and largely believed that only a massive military intervention would stop the fighting (Schimmel, 2011). The senior U.S. officials readily allayed such concerns and won public support by declaring that America would not be dragged into a pointless war. For instance, on May 28, 1994, U.S. President Bill Clinton stated that the U.S. involvement in ethnic conflicts depends on the weight of American interests at stake (runetek2, 2014, 1:30:13). In this regard, the media obfuscated the truth about genocide and helped to justify indifference that aided Hutu extremists in killing innocent Rwandans.

The responsibility to protect (R2P) norm introduced after the Rwandan genocide is unlikely to work in the future reliably. Most importantly, the R2P idea is not immune to the influence of perceived national interest, the root cause of global indifference during the Rwandan genocide. This issue had already caused significant controversy when the United States and Russia invoked R2P to justify the invasion of Iraq and the annexation of Crimea, respectively (Mingst et al., 2019). In its current state, the R2P norm may likely be abused by any powerful country. In contrast, the lack of national interest may lead to situations similar to the Rwandan scenario, when intervention is desperately needed, but international actors are reluctant to launch it. In addition, the R2P is still based on a moral, not legal, obligation. Consequently, R2P fails to articulate who is morally obligated to initiate protective interventions (Jemirade, 2021). One may argue that such responsibility falls on the UN. However, the UN does not have armed forces, so any R2P invocation depends on the goodwill of selected countries, which is an unreliable source of support.

Regarding the triggers of “bystander policy”, one can notice the negative effect of overextension and undesirable publicity. Prior to the Rwandan genocide, the UN launched a large-scale peacekeeping operation in former Yugoslavia. Furthermore, the UN mission in Somalia ended with disastrous results (Álvarez, 2018). The bad publicity had an extremely negative impact on the United States, as the Clinton administration desperately avoided the word “genocide” in order to stay out of the Rwandan conflict. Belgium pulled its troops away after the Hutu extremists killed ten Belgian peacekeepers (Álvarez, 2018). Once peacekeeping or humanitarian intervention becomes associated with high financial costs or military casualties, developed nations tend to activate the silent witness mode. The United States and Belgium adopted this course of action during the genocide in Rwanda. The willingness to participate in humanitarian interventions may be higher if a state or an international institution has significant interests in the country affected by a crisis.

Finally, the slow mobilization of Christian Churches and NGOs in response to humanitarian crises can be explained via the communal attachment theory. According to Jemirade (2021), communal attachments result in individuals valuing certain relationships more than others. The Jewish and Christian traditions may preach that humans have a moral obligation to safeguard the lives of other humans. However, a subconscious communal attachment would likely make an American Catholic more willing to help other American Catholics rather than Sunni Muslims in Sudan and Syria or Christians in faraway Rwanda. To a certain extent, the communal attachment might have influenced the general stance of the priesthood during the genocide in Rwanda. Rwanda’s Christian Churches were deeply interconnected with young Hutu communities after the 1959 Revolution (Schliesser, 2018). As a result, Churches have become a powerful source of anti-colonial and anti-Tutsi sentiment. When the genocide started, churches became death traps for many Tutsis and moderate Hutus, as church personnel frequently led the killers to their victims (Schliesser, 2018). In the Rwandan case, hate propaganda destroyed communal attachments based on religion and replaced them with fierce loyalty to the genocidal government.

In summary, the Rwandan genocide became possible due to the influence of colonial legacy and conscious neglect of threats by the UN, the United States, Belgium, and France. The UN and the governments of these countries tried to avoid overextension and potential negative publicity that would have followed an unsuccessful humanitarian intervention similar to the Somalia debacle. The media played a significant part in obfuscating the real scale of atrocities, thus aiding the Hutu extremists in mass killings. Instead of suffering the consequences of a potentially wrong choice, the UN and developed countries used bureaucracy as a convenient excuse to avoid any commitment to the situation. Given that R2P introduced after the Rwandan genocide is based on a loose idea of moral obligation, one cannot claim that the world is free from the Ghosts of Rwanda.

Álvarez, F. (2018). Failure to act: The Rwandan genocide and the international community. ARETE, 1-9.

Armoudian, M. (2020). In search of a genocidal frame: Preliminary evidence from the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide . Media, War & Conflict , 13 (2), 133-152. Web.

Fox, N., & Nyseth Brehm, H. (2018). “I decided to save them”: Factors that shaped participation in rescue efforts during genocide in Rwanda . Social Forces , 96 (4), 1625-1648. Web.

Jemirade, D. (2021). Humanitarian intervention (HI) and the responsibility to protect (R2P): The United Nations and international security . African Security Review , 30 (1), 48-65. Web.

Mingst, K.A., McKibben, H. E., & , Arreguín-Toft, I. M. (2019). Essentials of international relations (8 th ed.). W. W. Norton & Company.

runetek2. (2014). Ghosts of Rwanda [Video]. YouTube. Web.

Schimmel, N. (2011). An invisible genocide: How the Western media failed to report the 1994 Rwandan genocide of the Tutsi and why . The International Journal of Human Rights , 15 (7), 1125-1135. Web.

Schimmel, N. (2021). A Postcolonial reflection on the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi and statement of solidarity with its survivors . Journal of Victimology and Victim Justice , 4 (2), 179-196. Web.

Schliesser, C. (2018). From “a theology of genocide” to a “theology of reconciliation”? On the role of Christian Churches in the nexus of religion and genocide in Rwanda . Religions , 9 (2), 34. Web.

United Nations. (n.d.). Universal Declaration of Human Rights . Web.

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Rwanda is transforming and growing — but at what cost?

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Juana Summers

Tinbete Ermyas

research paper on rwanda genocide

Rwanda's post-genocide transformation has been remarkable, but uneven. Jacques Nkinzingabo for NPR hide caption

Rwanda's post-genocide transformation has been remarkable, but uneven.

KIGALI, Rwanda — Staring at the skyline in this city, you can't miss the tiered dome of the Kigali Convention Center. At night, its blue, yellow and green lights can be seen from the surrounding hilltops.

Completed in 2016, it's known to be the most expensive building on the African continent, and a project that's special to Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Staff inside the complex say he comes by "every day" to check on the progress. While that's almost certainly an exaggeration, the building is one of the most visible signs of the ways in which the country has changed since Kagame came to power in the years after the brutal genocide shocked the world.

Yet that transformation has been uneven, happening under the tight rule of a president who faces little opposition. And it prompts many questions, including: what type of leader is needed to help a country grow and heal from such a devastating past?

research paper on rwanda genocide

The Kigali Convention Center is an imposing structure. Edwin Remsberg / VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images hide caption

The Kigali Convention Center is an imposing structure.

Development. Innovation. Growth.

Last month, Rwanda marked 30 years since the genocide in which nearly one million people, most of them ethnic Tutsis, were killed. As many as a quarter million Rwandan civilians took part in the killings. Neighbors brutally attacked their neighbors.

As world leaders descended on Kigali to mark the moment, Kagame said that Rwanda has had a long journey, but "the tremendous progress of our country is plain to see and it is the result of the choices we made together to resurrect our nation."

research paper on rwanda genocide

Tourism is a key part of Rwanda's development plan. Jacques Nkinzingabo for NPR hide caption

Tourism is a key part of Rwanda's development plan.

research paper on rwanda genocide

Rwanda is hoping to draw more tourists to the country. Jacques Nkinzingabo for NPR hide caption

Rwanda is hoping to draw more tourists to the country.

Today, the country projects an image of post-genocide harmony. Ethnicities are no longer on ID cards and are not publicly discussed. Some of those who survived the killing now live side-by-side with perpetrators .

And Rwanda has made other measurable gains. Life expectancy is up, as is tourism – which these days makes up 11% of the country's GDP. Tourists come to see the famous gorillas, and high-end packages to trek with them can cost thousands of dollars a day.

Tourism has become so entrenched in the redevelopment plan of the country under Kagame that the beckoning logo of the #VisitRwanda ad campaign is now on the jerseys of European soccer teams, like Arsenal in London.

Then there are the luxury hotels, tech startups and a new stadium that hosts an offshoot of the NBA, the Basketball Africa League .

For Albert Rudatsimburwa — a political analyst who lived abroad during the genocide — Kagame is the catalyst for all that Rwanda has achieved.

"When I came back, it was joy and tears," he said. "Joy because it had been a journey to witness the rebirth of a nation – that is the most incredible part."

research paper on rwanda genocide

Albert Rudatsimburwa says president Kagame has done a good job. Jacques Nkinzingabo for NPR hide caption

Albert Rudatsimburwa says president Kagame has done a good job.

Rudatsimburwa lives just a few doors down from Kagame and says the president is a skilled leader. He ticks through some of Kagame's accomplishments since coming to power in 2000 – "big steps," he calls them – like the number of women in government leadership, the broad medical care coverage, and the country's massive internet connectivity.

"Even the gorillas can take selfies and post them on Instagram in the middle of the jungle" he jokes.

Rudatsimburwa is not alone in crediting Kagame and the ruling political party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front [RPF]. Kagame enjoys massive support in the country and has already been elected three times .

Among the most touted achievements is how Rwanda is now home to a number of tech startups who see it as a fertile ground for innovation.

research paper on rwanda genocide

Zipline workers pack and send drones off to hospitals. Jacques Nkinzingabo for NPR hide caption

Zipline workers pack and send drones off to hospitals.

About an hour south of the capitol, a company called Zipline operates a fleet of drones that carry blood and other medical supplies to health facilities across the country, where they are in short supply. One study showed that drone blood deliveries reduced in-hospital maternal deaths from postpartum hemorrhage by more than half .

Abdoul Salam Nizeyimana, a genocide survivor, was Zipline's first Rwandan employee, and says the government prioritizes innovation and is "willing to take bets" on new technologies.

"When you survive an atrocity, it's like you're given a second chance to live," he said of his life post-genocide.

The drone program is just one example of the country's – and this president's – search for development and advancement, which feels messianic at times. Another is "Umuganda" – a nationwide holiday on the last Saturday of each month that celebrates community service projects, like road cleaning.

research paper on rwanda genocide

A Zipline worker carries part of a drone from storage over to the belt where the drone will be sent out. Jacques Nkinzingabo for NPR hide caption

A Zipline worker carries part of a drone from storage over to the belt where the drone will be sent out.

research paper on rwanda genocide

Zipline packages are collected after being received by nurses at Kabgayi Hospital in the Southern Province of Rwanda. Jacques Nkinzingabo for NPR hide caption

Zipline packages are collected after being received by nurses at Kabgayi Hospital in the Southern Province of Rwanda.

The fact that all Rwandans are required by law to participate gets at some of the tension in this nation, post-genocide. Read one way, Umuganda is a remarkable act of unity and shared responsibility, which countries like the U.S. couldn't fathom outside of war or national disaster.

But flip that coin, and you get a picture of strongman authoritarianism, cultish devotion to the ruling party, and a series of draconian punishments for those who dare step out of line.

Repression. Arrests. Silence.

"Rwanda has made some really striking and remarkable progress in terms of economic gains, in terms of access to health, in terms of education promotion," says Lewis Mudge, the Central Africa director for Human Rights Watch.

"Unfortunately, those changes have not been matched in terms of affording people basic rights: civil and political rights, rights to express themselves freely, whether that be in the press, or at the ballot box. Rights to challenge the government."

Mudge describes democracy in Rwanda as a "performance," and that political opposition is virtually nonexistent. His view is that Rwandans want to vote "in an election in which it's not just ticking the box for Paul Kagame because they have to."

research paper on rwanda genocide

President Paul Kagame delivers his speech during the commemorations of the 30th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide in April. Luis Tato/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

President Paul Kagame delivers his speech during the commemorations of the 30th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide in April.

Mudge knows the county well. He lived and worked in Rwanda for four years, but says he was kicked out by the government in 2018 – making him the third Human Rights Watch researcher to have been ejected from Rwanda in the past decade.

It's hard to find anyone living inside Rwanda who will offer even faint criticism of Kagame. One of the few who does speak openly is Victoire Ingabire Umohoza, an opposition leader in Kigali.

"Kagame was the strongman that we needed after the genocide," she said. "But today we need a fresh perspective, a fresh blood and fresh new leadership in our country."

Umohoza challenged Kagame in the 2010 election, but was arrested and imprisoned on terrorism and conspiracy charges. She spent eight years in prison, five in solitary confinement. Umohoza was pardoned by Kagame in 2018 and released from prison, but she can't leave the country, she says, even to visit her husband in the Netherlands who is very sick.

"The government refuses to give me authorization to visit him," she said.

research paper on rwanda genocide

Critics of president Kagame say opposition is quashed until his rule. Jacques Nkinzingabo for NPR hide caption

Critics of president Kagame say opposition is quashed until his rule.

And she was barred from challenging Kagame in national elections this year. "So that is really the problem we have in our country ... if [citizens] dare to say something to challenge the authorities, they are labeled to be the enemy of Rwanda."

Critics of Kagame say that those who challenge him risk more than imprisonment, and they point to the story of gospel singer Kizito Mihigo, once one of Rwanda's most popular artists. Mihigo lost his parents in the genocide and was said to be close to the president's family.

But a decade ago, he released the song " Igisobanuro Cy'urupfu ," which included lyrics that crossed the red line in Rwanda politics post genocide. It called for empathy for both Tutsi and Hutu victims of the fighting.

In Rwanda, officially, the 1994 genocide is called the "genocide against the Tutsis." Mihigo was convicted and imprisoned on treason charges. He was later released, but in 2020 he was re-arrested when he tried to flee the country. He was found dead in a police station a short time later.

Mudge, from the Human Rights Watch, doesn't believe the narrative that Mihigo died by suicide in prison. "He was a friend of mine," Mudge said. "I was in touch with him 24 hours before he died and I do not think he killed himself."

Mudge says the harassment against those who do challenge the Kagame government is meant to send a clear message: "It's best just to keep quiet and shut up."

research paper on rwanda genocide

Paul Rusesabagina at the Supreme Court in Kigali on February 17, 2021. Simon Wohlfahrt/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

Paul Rusesabagina at the Supreme Court in Kigali on February 17, 2021.

Today, you have two Rwandas," says Paul Rusesabagina , the hotelier turned dissident whose story inspired the film Hotel Rwanda . Rusesabagina's ties to the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change, a group that opposes Kagame's rule, have cost him dearly.

In 2021, Rusesabagina says he was kidnapped, tried and imprisoned in Rwanda for two years and seven months. He was forced to sign a letter stating that he would not criticize the government.

Speaking from his home in the U.S., Rusesabagina says there is presently one Rwanda for the elite and then there is the "other" Rwanda: "Rwanda today is more or less a boiling volcano, you've got many people who have been silenced – and others who are silencing them."

Rwanda holds national elections in July. Umohoza will not be on the ballot, but Kagame will, running virtually unopposed . The all-but-certain win would extend his official rule to nearly a quarter century. Rwanda changed its constitution in 2015 to nullify term limits that would have capped Kagame's term, and the last time he stood for an election, the records state he won with 99% of the vote.

research paper on rwanda genocide

The development of Rwanda hasn't been evenly felt, some observers say. Jacques Nkinzingabo for NPR hide caption

The development of Rwanda hasn't been evenly felt, some observers say.

NPR made multiple requests to Kagame and was not granted an interview. We reached out to the Rwandan government for comment for this story and spokesperson Yolande Makolo sent a reply:

"Rwandan democracy is delivering progress for Rwandan people. People are free to criticize us, but all the evidence shows that Rwanda is advancing across every sector of society. But of course, there's more to do and we're a work in progress ... the idea that there are 'two Rwandas today' is ridiculous. The Rwandan government is delivering progress for all Rwandans."

  • Rwanda genocide


Rwandans born of rape during genocide face harsh stigma, even 3 decades on

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Second-generation survivors born from rapes committed during the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda find healing, community, and advocacy at a Foundation Rwanda Counseling Camp. The camps offer participants counseling, career guidance, and reproductive health education. (Serrah Galos/ Foundation Rwanda)

Editor’s note: This story contains descriptions of rape and sexual assault.

Rwanda has been marking three decades since the genocide which caused mass atrocities across the central African nation. In those 30 years, much has been done to address the horrors and brutality faced by members of the Tutsi minority ethnic group, as well as some moderate Hutu and Twa at the hands of Hutu militia.

Many people were born of rape during the 100 days of violence and to this day still face societal stigma for how they were conceived.

Host Deepa Fernandes speaks to Intare , one of the many people born of rape during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. Intare, who will turn 30 next year, shares challenges related to their unique trauma and the specific challenges faced by people like them.

They are joined by another Rwandan Samuel Munderere , who is a program director for Foundation Rwanda, to talk about what needs to be done to stop the stigmatization and abuse of people like Intare.

This segment aired on May 23, 2024.

More from Here & Now

UN establishes International Day of reflection for Srebrenica genocide

Barbed wire around a camp for some 25,000 people displaced from Srebrenica. The fence was there to keep people from wandering into the surrounding fields that may have been mined. (1995 photo)

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The UN General Assembly on Thursday designated 11 July as the International Day of Reflection and Commemoration of the 1995 Genocide in Srebrenica, in which at least 8,372 people were killed, thousands displaced and whole communities destroyed.

Adopting a resolution with the same title, the Assembly also asked the Secretary-General to establish an outreach programme on the Srebrenica genocide in preparation for the 30th anniversary next year.

It further condemned any denial of the Srebrenica genocide as a historical event and called on Member States to preserve the established facts, including through their educational systems, towards preventing denial and distortion, and any occurrence of genocide in the future.

The text, sponsored by Germany and Rwanda, was adopted by a recorded vote of 84 nations in favour, 19 against and 68 abstentions .


The massacre in Srebrenica

The massacre in Srebrenica marked one of the darkest chapters of the war that erupted after the breakup of former Yugoslavia.

In July 1995, the Bosnian Serb army overran Srebrenica, which was previously declared a safe area by the Security Council , and brutally murdered thousands of men and teenagers there, and expelled 20,000 people from the town.

A small and lightly armed unit of Dutch peacekeepers under the UN flag were unable to resist the Bosnian Serb force.

The brutal killings of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica by the army of Republika Srpska was recognized as an act of genocide by the International Court of Justice ( ICJ ) as well as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ( ICTY ).

Firmly against denial

Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, welcomed the resolution as “further recognition” of the victims and survivors, and their pursuit of justice, truth and guarantees of non-recurrence.  

“The resolution is all the more important given the persistent revisionism, denial of the Srebrenica genocide and hate speech by high-level political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in neighbouring countries ,” he said in a statement .

He also underscored the responsibility of political leaders in the region to engage in constructive dialogue to build peaceful societies “where people can live safely and freely, without discrimination or fear of conflict and violence”.

Germany: To honour victims

Ambassador Antje Leendertse of Germany introducing the draft resolution at the General Assembly.

Introducing the draft resolution, Antje Leendertse, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN, said that the initiative was about honouring the victims and supporting survivors, “who continue to live with scars of that fateful time”.

The text is modelled on the General Assembly resolution that designated 7 April as the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

“It also underscores the role of international courts in fighting impunity and ensuring accountability for genocide, and contains language against genocide denial and glorification of perpetrators,” she added.

She also spoke against “false allegations”, stating that the resolution “is not directed against anybody”.

“Not against Serbia, a valued member of this Organization. If at all, it is directed against perpetrators of the genocide,” Ambassador Leendertse added.

“I therefore invite everybody to judge the text on its merits and to support our call to commemorate and reflect on what happened in Srebrenica almost thirty years ago.”

Serbia: A Pandora’s box

President Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia addressing the General Assembly on the draft resolution.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić labelled the text “highly politicized” saying it would “open a Pandora’s box”.

The draft resolution “was hidden” by its authors, he said, adding that it lacked an inclusive process compared with “the resolution for Rwanda”, which was prepared in a “very transparent way”.

He recalled discussions over the issue at the Security Council in March.

“When we wanted to discuss the bombing of Serbia in 1999, they said to us ‘don’t look at the past, look at the future – it happened 25 years ago’. Two days after that, we found out that they were preparing this kind of resolution relating to events even four years prior to [1999],” he said.

“When they have some needs – political needs, they can go deep into the past. When someone else is referring to the past, in that case the facts – they don’t matter.”

With verdicts and convictions already delivered through the judicial process, the resolution would now only deepen divisions and lead to instability, President Vučić added.

“This is not about reconciliation, not about memories, this is something that will just open an old wound and create complete political havoc. Not only in our region, but even here, in this hall”, he argued.

Rwanda genocide tribunal comes to end after almost 3 decades

It comes as the last two fugitives were successfully accounted for.

LONDON -- The UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has officially concluded after 29 years, the Office of the Prosecutor has announced .

It comes as the last two fugitives indicted by the tribunal -- Ryandikayo and Charles Sikubwabo -- were successfully accounted for, ultimately confirmed as deceased.

Ryandikayo and Sikubwabo were charged with several crimes including counts of genocide and the two were accused of leading mobs of the Interhamwe Hutu militia.

“My Office and I are pleased that today, this work has been brought to a successful end,” said International Residual Mechanism for Criminal tribunals (IRMCT) Chief Prosecutor, Serge Brammertz.

The IRMCT told ABC News that a total of 92 persons were indicted by the UN tribunal for crimes committed during the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis.

Reflecting on the work of the last 29 years, Brammertz said the ICTR team faced ‘immense difficulties and "significant" challenges tracking and locating fugitives, ranging from "sophisticated efforts by fugitives to conceal their identities and locations" and "political unwillingness of countries to execute arrests."

“Many began to doubt that notorious fugitives, like Felicien Kabuga or Ratko Mladić, would ever be arrested,” said Brammertz.

The U.S. State Department had issued a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of Felicien Kabuga, the businessmen alleged to be the main financier and backer of political and militia groups that committed the Rwandan genocide.

PHOTO: Rwandan President Paul Kagame lights a memorial flame during a ceremony to mark the 30th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, held at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, in Kigali, Rwanda, April 7, 2024.

However, after 25 years on the run, he was arrested by French authorities at his home on the outskirts of Paris in May 2020.

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The U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was the first international court established to prosecute high-ranking individuals for massive human rights violations in Africa, including those responsible for the 1994 Rwanda Genocide against the Tutsis -- one of the world’s worst genocides since World War II.

The Rwandan genocide , which began in April 1994, saw Rwanda’s extremist-led Hutu government launch a systemic campaign on the Tutsi minority group as divisions between the two ethnic groups came to a head. The violence began after a plane carrying Rwanda’s Hutu President, Juvenal Habyarimana, was shot down by unknown assailants.

By the time the genocide concluded about 100 days later in July 1994, the massacre had claimed the lives of over 800,000 civilians with thousands more left injured or maimed.

“Our journey has been long and tough,” said Rwandan President Paul Kagame in his address at the 30th commemoration of the 1994 genocide in April -- also known as Kwibuka 30 -- which means "To remember" in Kinyarwanda.

“Rwanda’s tragedy is a warning. The process of division and extremism which leads to genocide can happen anywhere, if left unchecked,” Kagame said. "Our hearts are filled with grief and gratitude in equal measure. We remember our dead, and are also grateful for what Rwanda has become.”

In total, there are still more than 1,000 genocide suspects sought by authorities who still remain at large, said Brammertz.

Rwanda’s Prosecutor General national partners are set to continue efforts to bring individuals to justice, vowing to not stop until all perpetrators of crimes are brought to justice.

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UN approves resolution to commemorate the 1995 Srebrenica genocide over Serb opposition

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations approved a resolution Thursday establishing an annual day to commemorate the 1995 genocide of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serbs, a move vehemently opposed by Serbs who fear it will brand them all as “genocidal” supporters of the mass killing.

The vote in the 193-member General Assembly was 84-19 with 68 nations abstaining, a reflection of concerns among many countries about the impact of the vote on reconciliation efforts in deeply divided Bosnia.

The resolution designates July 11 as the “International Day of Reflection and Commemoration of the 1995 Genocide in Srebrenica,” to be observed annually starting in two months.

The resolution, sponsored by Germany and Rwanda, doesn’t mention Serbs as the culprit, but that didn’t stop the intense lobbying campaign for a “no” vote by the Bosnian Serb president, Milorad Dodik, and the populist president of neighboring Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic.

On July 11, 1995, Bosnian Serbs overran a U.N.-protected safe area in Srebrenica. They separated at least 8,000 Muslim Bosniak men and boys from their wives, mothers and sisters and slaughtered them. Those who tried to escape were chased through the woods and over the mountains around the town.

READ MORE: Lawmakers in Serbia elect new government with pro-Russia ministers sanctioned by U.S.

The Srebrenica killings were a bloody climax of Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, which came after the breakup of the then-nation of Yugoslavia unleashed nationalist passions and territorial ambitions that set Bosnian Serbs against the country’s two other main ethnic populations, Croats and Muslim Bosniaks.

Both Serbia and Bosnian Serbs have denied that genocide happened in Srebrenica although this has been established by two U.N. courts.

Dodik, who is president of Republika Srpska, the Serb part of Bosnia which comprises about half its territory, said Wednesday on the social media platform X that the U.N. resolution is being forced on the country by supporters of Muslim Bosniaks and that it will split up the country. He suggested his government would secede from Bosnia if the resolution were to pass.

Dodik has made several such threats in the past to have the Serb-controlled territories secede from Bosnia and join with neighboring Serbia. He and some other Bosnian Serb officials are under U.S. and British sanctions partly for jeopardizing a U.S. peace plan that ended the Bosnian war.

The final draft of the resolution added a statement reiterating the General Assembly’s “unwavering commitment to maintaining stability and fostering unity in diversity in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

The determination in 2007 by the International Court of Justice, the U.N.’s highest tribunal, that the acts committed in Srebrenica constituted genocide, is included in the draft resolution. It was Europe’s first genocide since the Nazi Holocaust in World War II, which killed an estimated 6 million Jews and people from other minorities.

READ MORE: Colombia breaks diplomatic ties with Israel. President calls actions in Gaza a ‘genocide’

Germany’s U.N. Ambassador Antje Leendertse said last week that there is an official U.N. commemoration of the 1994 Rwanda genocide on April 7 every year — the day the Hutu-led government began the killing of members of the Tutsi minority and their supporters. The draft resolution aims “to close the gap” by creating a separate U.N. day “to commemorate the victims of Srebrenica,” she said.

Menachem Rosensaft, the son of Holocaust survivors who is an adjunct professor at Cornell Law School, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that designating July 11 as the official day of remembrance for the Srebrenica genocide “is a moral and legal imperative.”

The slain Muslim Bosniaks deserve to have their deaths and the manner of their deaths commemorated and Srebrenica was supposed to be a safe area but was abandoned by Dutch U.N. peacekeepers, leaving the Bosniaks who sought shelter there “to be murdered on the U.N.’s watch,” Rosensaft said.

Richard Gowan, U.N. director of the International Crisis Group, called the timing of the vote “unfortunate, given allegations that Israel is pursuing genocide in Gaza.”

“The vote will be an opportunity for more political theater,” he told AP. “I expect Russia and China will make a great point of asking why the U.S. and European governments are concentrating on a massacre in the 1990s rather than killings in Gaza today.”

AP writers Eldar Emric in Srebrenica and Jovana Gec and Dusan Stojanovic contributed to this report from Belgrade, Serbia.

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World Jan 06

Rwandan genocide survivors in Maine mark 30 years with awareness event

by Owen Kingsley, Monty Orrick, WGME

Survivors of the Rwandan Genocide here in Maine are gathering this weekend to commemorate 30 years since the tragedy.

SOUTH PORTLAND (WGME) - Survivors of the Rwandan Genocide here in Maine are gathering this weekend to commemorate 30 years since the tragedy.

In 1994, hundreds of thousands of Tutsi people were killed in the African country.

Saturday in South Portland, Rwandans living in Maine are inviting others to heal, learn and raise genocide awareness.

  • ALSO READ: Maine restaurants hope for Memorial Day rebound after tough winter storms

Organizers say this event helps connect survivors with post-genocide youth to talk about trauma that was experienced and how to use this platform to prevent genocide.

Sunday at South Portland High School, a reunion will be held for survivors of the Rwandan Genocide. It starts at 10 a.m.

research paper on rwanda genocide

UN approves resolution to commemorate 1995 Srebrenica genocide

General Assembly votes to create memorial day despite fierce opposition from Bosnian Serbs and Serbia.

a woman in grey cries in front of rows of headstones

The United Nations General Assembly has voted to establish an annual day of remembrance for the 1995 Srebrenica genocide despite furious opposition from Bosnian Serbs and Serbia.

The resolution, written by Germany and Rwanda, received 84 votes in favour and 19 against with 68 abstentions on Thursday. It makes July 11 the International Day of Remembrance of the Srebrenica Genocide.

Keep reading

Photos: protests as un court hears genocide case against israel over gaza, safe zones: israel’s technologies of genocide, as bosniaks, we have a duty to speak up for gaza.

Before the vote, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic warned the General Assembly the move “will just open old wounds, and that will create a complete political havoc”.

But he added he did not deny the killings at Srebrenica, saying he bowed his “head to all the victims of the conflict in Bosnia”.

“This resolution seeks to foster reconciliation in the present and for the future,” German Ambassador Antje Leendertse said.

Church bells rang out across Serbia on Thursday in protest. The Serbian Orthodox Church said it hoped the gesture would unite Serbs in “prayers, serenity, mutual solidarity and firmness in doing good despite untrue and unjust accusations it faces at the UN”.


Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, meanwhile, denied a genocide had even taken place in the Bosnian city and said his administration would not recognize the UN resolution.

“There was no genocide in Srebrenica,” Dodik told a news conference in Srebrenica.

Bosnian Serb forces captured Srebrenica, a UN-protected enclave at the time, on July 11, 1995, a few months before the end of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s civil war.

In the following days, Bosnian Serb forces killed about 8,000 Muslim men and teenagers – a crime described as a genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice.

The incident is considered the worst single atrocity in Europe since World War II.

In addition to establishing the memorial day, the resolution condemns “any denial” of the genocide and urges UN member countries to “preserve the established facts”.

In a letter to other UN members, Germany and Rwanda described the vote as a “crucial opportunity to unite in honouring the victims and acknowledging the pivotal role played by international courts”.


There has been a furious response from Serbia and Bosnian Serb leaders.

To try to defuse tensions, the authors of the resolution added – at Montenegro’s request – that culpability for the genocide is “individualised and cannot be attributed to any ethnic, religious or other group or community as a whole”.

That has not been enough to appease Belgrade.

In a letter sent Sunday to all UN delegations, Serbian charge d’affaires Sasa Mart warned that raising “historically sensitive topics serves only to deepen division and may bring additional instability to the Balkans”.

Russia’s UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzia, called the resolution “provocative” and a “threat to peace and security”.

Moscow previously vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning the “crime of genocide at Srebrenica”.

Dodik – president of Republika Srpska, the Serb entity in Bosnia where thousands of people demonstrated in April against the resolution – said the Srebrenica genocide was a “sham”.

The European Union has responded strongly, with foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano saying: “There cannot be any denial” and “anyone trying to put it in doubt has no place in Europe.”

For relatives of the victims of the massacre, the UN debate is an important moment in their quest for peace.

“Those who led their people into this position [of genocide denial] must accept the truth, so that we can all find peace and move on with our lives,” said Kada Hotic, 79-year-old co-director of an association of Srebrenica mothers. She lost her son, husband and two brothers in the genocide.

The resolution is “of the highest importance for spreading the truth”, said Denis Becirovic, the Bosniak member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency.


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  1. Analyzing Participation in the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda

    The 1994 genocide in Rwanda remains an important case for research on participation in genocide, and numerous theories are based in research stemming from the case (for a review of some of this work, see Loyle, 2009). Thus, more accurate estimates of the scale and scope of participation in this case provide an accurate foundation on which to ...

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    Former genocide perpetrators and collaborators who fled Rwanda at the end of the genocide into neighbouring countries were considered threats to the survival of the post-genocide Rwandan government. Footnote 18 After the First Congo War, the former genocide forces organised and formed the FDLR. Its beliefs held the necessity of armed resistance ...

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    1994 genocide against Rwanda's Tutsi commu-nities. Around 800,000 Tutsi were killed by armed Hutu militia and citizens over 100 days. Members of the Hutu and Twa communities

  5. PDF Behind the Decisions of Intervention: The Neglects of the Rwandan Genocide

    Harvard University. November 2021 2021 Courtney A. Henderson Abstract. My research is centered on the Clinton Administration and the United States' lack. of involvement during the Rwandan genocide. The research begins with identifying and. defining the concept of American exceptionalism, which gives a brief look into.

  6. The Rwandan genocide: modernity and ambivalence

    The Rwandan genocide is illustrative of this need, as a case which remains firmly rooted in identity categories that have been imposed on the native populations during the colonial era. The article traces the persistence of the colonial racial hierarchies in Rwanda and the role they played in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. It fosters a ...

  7. Reading the Rwandan Genocide

    n 1994, genocide took place in Rwanda and up to one million defenseless. people were slaughtered during a three-month period. The victims were. mostly Tutsi, but there were also tens of thousands of Hutu, who were either. opponents of the regime or simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. This genocide followed a four-year civil war, during ...

  8. PDF Propaganda and Conflict: Evidence from the Rwandan Genocide

    radio reception generated by Rwanda's highly varying topography, which is practically ran-dom and, therefore, arguably uncorrelated with other determinants of violence.4 To measure participation in the violence, we use data on the number of persons prosecuted for violent crimes committed during the genocide in each village.

  9. (PDF) Casualty Estimates in the Rwandan Genocide

    PDF | On Jan 2, 2020, David A. Armstrong II and others published Casualty Estimates in the Rwandan Genocide | Find, read and cite all the research you need on ResearchGate

  10. The Historiography of the Rwandan Genocide

    Thematically, Rwanda is a paradigmatic case of ethnic conflict and central to the rapidly growing field of genocide studies. The case is also a touchstone for students of transitional justice, humanitarian intervention, violence, and contemporary African politics — in addition to a number of other themes.

  11. (PDF) The Rwandan Genocide: A Case Study

    most estimates, over 800,000 Rwandans were murdered and many more times over were. displaced or became refugees outside of the country. Only the 1970s killings in Cambodia and. the 1971 Genocide ...

  12. In the Aftermath: The Post-Conflict Social and Economic Consequences of

    Rescue During Genocide. Scholarship on people who rescue—also known as upstanders or the "Righteous Among the Nations" Footnote 7 —dates back to the Holocaust. Footnote 8 Early scholarship emphasized the personality traits associated with those who rescued. For instance, in The Altruistic Personality, Oliner and Oliner compared the profiles of 406 people who rescued during the ...

  13. After the genocide: what scientists are learning from Rwanda

    Before 1994, the field of genocide studies was dominated by the Holocaust — the systematic killing of 6 million Jewish people by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. "It's only in the ...

  14. A Historical Approach Towards Analyzing Rwandan Genocide of 1994

    This paper has tried to explain the causes or what led to the Rwandan genocide of 1994 through historical approach. The analysis was however guided by historical approach. The paper has been able to conceptually clarify the concept of genocide, Tutsi, Hutu, and ethnicity. It also explained in detail the genesis of the Rwandan genocide using the ...

  15. Prejudice, Crisis, and Genocide in Rwanda

    Extract. From 7 April, 1994, onwards, a well planned and massively executed genocide began in Rwanda, which led to the brutal slaughter of up to one million defenseless children, women and men. This genocide was the culmination of a four year period during which civil war and extremist violence cost the lives of tens of thousands of persons.

  16. PDF Propaganda and Conflict: Theory and Evidence from the Rwandan Genocide

    Figure 3. Level of genocide violence in Rwandan villages. The categories represent the total number of prosecuted persons in the village (sum of collective and individual violence). White areas are missing data, either because of geography, such as parks and natural reserves, or villages that lack data in the sample. Figure 4.

  17. Explaining the 1994 genocide in Rwanda

    Abstract. Any adequate account of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda must acknowledge manipulation by external forces, domestic pressures and psychological factors. Even so, the nature of the Rwandan state must be seen as absolutely central. The genocide took place under the aegis of the state, and Rwandans were the main actors involved.


    9-9. GERI PILACA 1. THE RW ANDAN GENOCIDE AND T HE UN. Abstract. The genocide that occurred in Rwanda during the year 1994 is one of the most recognizable crimes of. the last decades. Such event ...

  19. The long-term health consequences of genocide: developing GESQUQ

    First, genocide - as defined in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9th of December 1948 as General Assembly Resolution 260 (III, article 2) - can take many forms, from the semi-organized chaos of Rwanda systematic murder of Jews by Nazis and/or their ...

  20. The Rwanda Genocide

    Key Facts. 1. From April to July 1994, extremist leaders of Rwanda's Hutu majority directed a genocide against the country's Tutsi minority. 2. Killings occurred openly throughout Rwanda on roads and in fields, churches, schools, government buildings, and homes. Entire families were killed at a time. 3.

  21. Rwandan genocide

    The Rwandan genocide, also known as the genocide against the Tutsi, occurred between 7 April and 19 July 1994 during the Rwandan Civil War. During this period of around 100 days, members of the Tutsi minority ethnic group, as well as some moderate Hutu and Twa, were killed by armed Hutu militias.Although the Constitution of Rwanda states that more than 1 million people perished in the genocide ...

  22. Rwanda Genocide: Process and Outcomes Research Paper

    Introduction. The Rwanda genocide of 1994 is regarded as the largest genocide since the mass killings of the Second World War. While the killing of the Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana in April 6, 1994 sparked this event, historians assert that ethnic differences and identity politics played a significant role in this genocide, which resulted in the death of over 800,000 people in the ...

  23. The Rwandan Genocide: How and Why It Happened Research Paper

    On April 6, 1994, the Rwandan president's plane was shot down, and the Hutu extremists promptly put their genocidal plan in motion. Mass killings of Tutsis and moderate Hutus began immediately; the Rwandan army, presidential guard, and police assisted irregular militias in genocide (runetek2, 2014).

  24. Rwanda is transforming and growing

    In Rwanda, officially, the 1994 genocide is called the "genocide against the Tutsis." Mihigo was convicted and imprisoned on treason charges. He was later released, but in 2020 he was re-arrested ...

  25. Rwandans born of rape during genocide face harsh stigma, even 3 ...

    11:04Resume. May 23, 2024. Second-generation survivors born from rapes committed during the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda find healing, community, and advocacy at a Foundation Rwanda ...

  26. UN establishes International Day of reflection for Srebrenica genocide

    The text is modelled on the General Assembly resolution that designated 7 April as the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. "It also underscores the role of international courts in fighting impunity and ensuring accountability for genocide, and contains language against genocide denial and ...

  27. Rwanda genocide tribunal comes to end after almost 3 decades

    Rwandan President Paul Kagame lights a memorial flame during a ceremony to mark the 30th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, held at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, in Kigali, Rwanda, April 7, 2024.

  28. UN approves resolution to commemorate the 1995 Srebrenica genocide over

    Germany's U.N. Ambassador Antje Leendertse said last week that there is an official U.N. commemoration of the 1994 Rwanda genocide on April 7 every year — the day the Hutu-led government began ...

  29. Rwandan genocide survivors in Maine mark 30 years with awareness ...

    Survivors of the Rwandan Genocide here in Maine are gathering this weekend to commemorate 30 years since the tragedy. Sun, 26 May 2024 05:15:33 GMT (1716700533873) Story Infinite Scroll - News3 v1 ...

  30. UN approves resolution to commemorate 1995 Srebrenica genocide

    The resolution, written by Germany and Rwanda, received 84 votes in favour and 19 against with 68 abstentions on Thursday. It makes July 11 the International Day of Remembrance of the Srebrenica ...