- In the Aftermath of Genocide: The U.S. Role in Rwanda
The Rwanda genocide had profound domestic and global implications and will for the foreseeable future remain the dominant factor affecting both Rwanda's internal affairs and its international relations.
The genocide raised a host of important issues for policy makers and other professionals involved or otherwise interested in issues relating to postconflict reconstruction: Does the international community have a responsibility to communities threatened with mass atrocity? What policies best promote peace, stability, reconstruction, and development in postconflict societies? What is the role of accountability in postconflict reconstruction? How does a society emerging from mass atrocity balance the need for accountability with protection of individual rights? Can governments of fragile transitional societies guarantee stability and democratize at the same time? How should the international community respond to the challenge of emergencies arising from deadly conflict? What is the role of the international community (governments, multilateral organizations, and civil society) in the postconflict reconstruction process? How should the international community handle refugee situations involving perpetrators of gross human rights violations? What are the legitimate limits of self-defense under international law for a society seeking to protect itself from perpetrators of mass atrocity? All these and many other issues confronted Rwanda and its partners, including the United States, in the aftermath of the genocide. [End Page 101]
Ambassador Robert Gribbin's book, published in the Memoir and Occasional Papers series of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, is a very welcome contribution to literature on Rwanda's recovery after catastrophe. No previous publication has dealt with issues relating to Rwanda's efforts at rebuilding and its relations with the international community in general in as detailed a manner. The author's account of the period of his service in Rwanda leaves no doubt that he was and remains well versed with the critical issues that faced the new government of Rwanda following the genocide: peace and security, repatriation and resettlement of refugees, economic reconstruction, national unity and reconciliation, human rights, justice and the rule of law, democratization, and regional peace and stability.
Though a most welcome account of a tragedy, the book contains some obvious errors of fact, or at best, simplification. For example, the Rwandan exiles who were later to lead the invasion of Rwanda from Uganda were admittedly predominantly Tutsi but were neither aristocratic nor educated at family expense outside the country. Those who got the opportunity to have some education owed their good fortune to the charity of foreign churches and the humanitarian work of the United Nations. The Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA) was in fact at first routed and driven out of Rwanda by the Armed Forces of Rwanda, with military assistance from France, Belgium, and Zaire. The Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) delegation to the Arusha peace talks did not include Kagame or Murigande and were instead led by the now imprisoned former president of Rwanda, Pasteur Bizimungu. The Arusha agreement stipulated that the post of prime minister during the transition period would be occupied by a representative of the Democratic Republican Movement, not the RPF. The transition period envisaged by the peace agreement was twenty-two months, not three years. Belgium's decision to withdraw its contingent from the UN peacekeeping mission came about a week after the genocide began, and was not announced on 7 April as indicated. Fortunately, these minor errors do not significantly diminish the overall quality of the publication as an accurate record of events.
However, the author's analysis of situations and interpretation of events is not entirely reflective of some aspects of Rwanda's postgenocide reconstruction. The book's content on the role of political parties other than the RPF in the transition government is one example. Genuine representation of political parties in the government in accordance with the terms of the Arusha agreement effectively came to an end with the ouster of Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu in 1995. The RPF from then on decided for the...