Over a period of 100 days between April and mid-July of 1994, the Rwandan genocide claimed the lives of approximately 800,000 Rwandans and caused the displacement of an estimated two million refugees into surrounding nations (UNHCR). The eruption of fear, brutality, and violence as Rwandans massacred Rwandans stemmed from decades of civil war fueled by intractable existential, political, and socioeconomic conflicts between Tutsis and Hutus. After the genocide ended and the United Nations’ investigative task force began sifting through brutally macheted bodies in churches, stadiums, rivers and roadsides, the international community and policymakers began to ask what they could or should have done differently in international diplomacy to accurately assess the situation and prudentially intervene to prevent the genocide. In addition, Rwanda and the international community began to ask what justice meant for the survivors. The questions are still relevant today. Despite steps taken toward reconstruction, the wounds and scars in Rwanda remain. For foreign policymakers and practitioners engaged in diplomatic mediation or international development, Rwanda serves as a sobering case study. This paper examines the response of the international community in 1994, and analyzes when, if ever, an intractable conflict is ripe for an apology (Crocker, Hampson, & Aall). For Tutsi and Hutu survivors, an apology will not restore the nearly 800,000 lives lost, undo the years in exile, or erase the trauma suffered; the task of rebuilding the nation is, therefore, a weighty one in navigating policy and the day-to-day reality of those seeking healing and restoration. This paper also examines what commitments or enforcement mechanisms must accompany an apology within the context of culture in order for reform to be sustainable in environments where violent conflict involved ethnic tensions, political interests, and socioeconomic challenges.
Milnes, Emily A.
"The Rwandan Genocide: A study for policymakers engaged in foreign policy, diplomacy, and international development,"
Pepperdine Policy Review: Vol. 13, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/ppr/vol13/iss1/5