United Nations report on the 1994 Rwanda genocide

Press Release
14 April 2000

(SMA’s marked words are not in original document; text remains unchanged)

The Chairman of the Independent Inquiry into United Nations actions during the 1994 Rwanda genocide, Ingvar Carlsson, presented his report to the Security Council this morning, saying the Council had the power to have prevented at least some of the Rwandan tragedy, and could act to ensure such a tragedy did not happen again. He described the lack of political will to act in the face of crises as the most dangerous obstacle to United Nations’ work for the maintenance of peace.
The Council’s decision to reduce the strength of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) after the genocide started, and despite its knowledge of the atrocities, was the cause of much bitterness in Rwanda, he continued. In future the Secretariat must tell the Council exactly what was needed, and the Council must ensure that short-term financial constraints did not prevent effective action. The Council must give missions the mandate they needed, mobilize the necessary troops and resources, and accept its responsibility irrespective of where problems occurred.
The Foreign Minister of Canada, Lloyd Axworthy, told the Council that the best way to honour the victims of the Rwandan tragedy was through a firm commitment never to turn away from civilians victimized by armed conflict again. Such civilians must be protected in both word and deed. The Rwandan tragedy had almost extinguished belief in the United Nations’ capacity to fulfil the purposes for which it was founded. No one in the Council Chamber could look back at the genocide and not feel remorse and sadness at the international community’s abject failure to help the people of Rwanda.
The Council must be more active in ensuring that the capacity, resources, robust mandates and clear rules of engagement existed to carry out the operations it authorized, he added. There were signs that the lessons were being taken to heart, but improvement was needed, as the Council’s response to crises in the Democratic Republic of the Congo showed.
It was true that peacekeeping was costly, but peace did not come cheap, stated the Namibian representative. Often, when peacekeeping missions were being considered, troop size and the costs involved were foremost in the minds of Member States. He noted with regret that, despite the experience of Rwanda, some of the problems the report said contributed to inaction in Rwanda in 1994 were still applied today, as the United Nations considered taking action on certain conflict situations.

Security Council – 1a – Press Release SC/6843 4127th Meeting (AM) 14 April 2000

The report made clear that in Rwanda -– as in Bosnia and Somalia -– “we failed”, stated the representative of the United States. It pulled no punches, spared no responsibilities, and left no stone unturned. It was both a historical record and a blueprint for the future. Preventing another round of genocidal violence in central Africa was one of the United Nations’ greatest challenges. The legacy of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Rwanda, Burundi and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a tragic reality that must be addressed.
The representative of the United Kingdom said it was easy to underline the need for greater responsiveness and flexibility. “But we, as a Council, have to be clear that no peacekeeping mandate is set in stone, that operational changes are part of the Council’s business and that the underlying principle and responsibilities of the United Nations must not be ignored or set aside.” For a peacekeeping mission to work, there must be a peace to keep. Any peacekeeping mission must be based on the commitment of all parties to a peace accord, and needed to have both political analysis and human rights monitoring capacity.
Malaysia’s representative told the Council that the Rwanda report had closely followed an equally critical report on United Nations responsibility for Srebrenica. The Council had put a token force in Srebrenica — too small to actually help — so it could claim it cared. The two reports represented a new candor that was important, as honesty and an understanding of the past were essential, if the Council was now to develop clear criteria for implementing and coordinating United Nations activities for peace and security.
The representative of Rwanda said the report clearly showed that the world had failed Rwanda. The victims of the genocide in Rwanda were still suffering cruelly from physical, psychological and post-trauma hardships, and the Rwandan Government’s best efforts were not enough to address them. A mini-Marshall plan was needed for Rwanda. It was possible for the United Nations to shock the world again, by doing something dramatically positive, he concluded.
Statements were also made this morning by the representatives of the Netherlands, Ukraine, Mali, Argentina, Russian Federation, Tunisia, China, France, Bangladesh and Jamaica.
The meeting began at 10:27 a.m. and adjourned at 1:09 p.m.



Security Council – 3 – Press Release SC/6843 4127th Meeting (AM) 14 April 2000

Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing on the Independent Inquiry into the actions of the United Nations during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, from the Chairman of the Independent Inquiry established to conduct it, Ingvar Carlsson, former Prime Minister of Sweden. The Secretary- General transmitted the report to the Council and made it public in December of last year (document S/1999/1257). Today’s meeting was the first time the Council had met specifically to consider the report.
The report examines the circumstances surrounding the failure of the international community to prevent the systematic slaughter of some 800,000 people in Rwanda in 1994. That failure, it states, has left deep wounds within Rwandan society and in the relationship between Rwanda and the United Nations. The Inquiry was conducted with a view to healing those wounds.
In the letter transmitting the report to the Council, Secretary-General Annan advises that he established the Inquiry, composed of Mr. Carlsson, Han Sung-Joo, former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, and Lieutenant General Rufus M. Kupolati of Nigeria, following the Council’s expression of support for his proposal in March 1999.
At the time of its release, Secretary-General Annan said he fully accepted the Inquiry’s conclusions. He said its recommendations merited very serious attention and he urged Member States to engage in reflection and analysis, aimed at improving the capacity of the United Nations to respond to various forms of conflict.
In its introduction, the report states that the responsibility for failing to prevent or stop the genocide was a failure of the United Nations system as a whole. The fundamental failure was the lack of resources and political commitment devoted to developments in Rwanda and the United Nations presence there. There was a persistent lack of political will by Member States to act, or to act assertively enough, which affected the Secretariat’s response, the Security Council’s decision-making and the difficulties in getting troops for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR). In addition, although resources were chronically short, serious mistakes were made in using the resources that were available.
The report contains a description of the key events from the signing of the Arusha peace agreement in August 1993 through 18 July 1994, when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) gained control of the country. It offers its conclusions gathered under 19 headings, and makes 14 recommendations for improvements to the United Nations’ capacity to respond to genocide and humanitarian crises.
Among its conclusions, the Inquiry states that responsibility for the United Nations’ failure to prevent and stop the genocide lies, in particular, with the Secretary-General, the Secretariat, the Security Council, UNAMIR and the broader membership of the United Nations. This international responsibility warranted a clear apology by the Organization and by Member States concerned to the Rwandan people.
The report states that UNAMIR was not planned, deployed or instructed in a way that allowed it to deal with a peace process in serious trouble. It was smaller than the original field recommendations, was set up slowly, and was beset by debilitating administrative difficulties. It lacked well-trained troops and functioning materiel. The mandate was based on an erroneous analysis of the peace process and that was not corrected, despite significant warnings that it had become inadequate. By the time the genocide started, testimony points to a lack of political leadership, a lack of military capacity, severe problems of command and control and a lack of coordination and discipline. The report states that a force of 2,500 should have been able to stop or at least limit massacres like those in Rwanda after the deaths of the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi. It also acknowledges acts of courage from United Nations staff.
Decisions about the initial mandate of UNAMIR were an underlying factor in its failure to prevent or stop the genocide, the Inquiry notes. Predicated on the success of the peace process, the mandate had no contingency plan. The United Nations was fighting the clock from the first days of UNAMIR’s preparation, and planning suffered from insufficient political analysis, as acknowledged by the Force Commander following his reconnaissance mission. Responsibility for that oversight lies with the relevant parts of the Secretariat. The reconnaissance mission estimated a force of 4,500 troops was required, but the Secretariat believed, probably correctly, that it would not get Council support for that number and so the recommendation was for 2,548 military personnel.
The report also notes serious difficulties in the implementation of the mandate. Headquarters consistently decided to interpret the mandate so as to preserve UNAMIR’s neutral role. Serious mistakes were made in dealing with the cable dated 11 January from the Force Commander on prospects for violence, by the Force Commander and the leadership of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The Secretary-General and the Security Council should have been informed, not just the three embassies in Kigali. More should have been done to follow up on the information and the Rwandan President should have been constantly pressured to act.
Differing interpretations of the Mission’s mandate regarding authority to raid arms caches were also important. The Inquiry saw no reason to criticize the Secretariat’s interpretation of the mandate, but the issue should have been raised with the Council. The strategy of using the threat of withdrawing UNAMIR as leverage with the President, given threats against the Belgian contingent and knowledge that extremists sought the withdrawal of the Mission, could have motivated extremist obstructions, rather than prevented them.
The Inquiry notes a disturbing lack of clarity in communications between UNAMIR and Headquarters regarding the Mission’s rules of engagement. In the early days of the genocide, the UNAMIR operation was prevented from performing its political mandate related to the Arusha agreement, incapable of protecting the civilian population or civilian United Nations staff and at risk itself. It was also sidelined in the national evacuation operations. The responsibility for that situation, the Inquiry concludes, must be shared between the UNAMIR leadership, the Secretariat and troop-contributing countries.
Unilateral decisions to withdraw troops or indications to that effect meant a significant risk that the peacekeeping force would disintegrate in the wake of the killing of the Belgian troops, the report states. It is essential to preserve the unity of United Nations command and control, and troop- contributing countries should refrain from unilateral withdrawal. Even given Belgium’s legitimate concerns, the Inquiry finds its campaign for complete withdrawal of UNAMIR difficult to understand. The Security Council during the first weeks of the genocide was divided, it notes. Although the Secretary- General has said he made his preference for strengthening UNAMIR clear, the report states, he could have done more.
It also finds the Council’s decision to reduce UNAMIR in the face of the killings, rather than trying to muster political will to try and stop the killing, has led to bitterness in Rwanda. It is a decision the Inquiry finds difficult to justify. The reluctance to identify events as «genocide», motivated by a deplorable lack of will, was another Council failure. Behaving as if the ceasefire had just broken down, rather than acknowledging genocide, was a costly error of judgement committed by the Secretariat, UNAMIR and Council members. Clearly there were weaknesses in the Organization’s capacity for political analysis.
The UNAMIR’s lack of capacity had a key effect on the way the Mission dealt with the unfolding crisis after 6 April, the report notes, with the lack of resources and logistics a serious problem for it from the start. Responsibility for its logistical problems lies with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and with troop contributors. Constant pressure by the Council to save money and cut resources also created problems, particularly as the Mission was too weak from the start.
The UNAMIR was tasked with the protection of a number of politicians who were of key importance to the implementation of the Arusha agreement, and there is a pattern of failure by UNAMIR troops to guarantee that protection, the report notes. In addition, sufficiently decisive action was not taken when it was known that Belgium peacekeepers had been taken captive. There were no conscious and consistent orders on the protection of civilians, and some civilians’ trust in UNAMIR may have actually put them at greater risk.
The report notes problems in the flow of information from the field to Headquarters, from the Secretariat to the Security Council — and back. Further, there were problems between the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Force Commander, known in New York, but not acted on. The UNAMIR seems to have suffered from a lack of political leadership on the part of the Special Representative, but also from problems in military leadership, because of the multitude of tasks the Force Commander had to cover during those first chaotic days.
In its final observations, the Inquiry states that, faced with genocide or the risk of it, the United Nations had an obligation to act transcending traditional peacekeeping principles. “There can be no neutrality in the face of genocide, and no impartiality in the face of a campaign to exterminate part of a population.”
In its recommendations, the Inquiry calls for an action plan to prevent genocide, involving the whole United Nations system, to be put to the World Conference against Racism to be held in 2001. It states that renewed efforts should be made to improve the United Nations’ capacity for peacekeeping and rapid deployment, including the availability of resources, and suggests political momentum for that should be mobilized at the Millennium Summit and Assembly. Each peacekeeping operation should have clear rules of engagement.
The Inquiry recommends the United Nations’ early-warning capacity be improved, notably through better cooperation outside and within the Secretariat. It also calls for efforts to improve the protection of civilians in conflict situations, and similar efforts for the security of United Nations personnel, including local staff. Consideration should be given to changing the rules so that national staff can be evacuated from crisis areas.
Cooperation between officials responsible for security of different categories of staff in the field needs to be ensured, as does an effective flow of information within the United Nations system, the Inquiry states. It specifically calls for further improvements in the flow of information to the Security Council, and in the flow of human rights information. It also recommends that national evacuation operations be coordinated with United Nations missions on the ground. It calls for study of the possibility of suspending Security Council participation by involved Member States in exceptional circumstances, such as the crisis in Rwanda.
Efforts to rebuild Rwanda should be supported by the international community, according to the report, and the United Nations should acknowledge its failure to do enough to prevent or stop the genocide in Rwanda. The Secretary-General should seek ways to repair the relationship between the United Nations and Rwanda.
The Council President, LLOYD AXWORTHY, Foreign Minister of Canada, thanked the Secretary-General for initiating the Independent Inquiry.
INGVAR CARLSSON, Chairman of the Independent Inquiry, presented the report to the Council. He said he was pleased that the Council was meeting to formally discuss the report, as it was one of the bodies to which the report’s recommendations were addressed.
The genocide in Rwanda happened before the eyes of the international community and a United Nations peacekeeping force, he said. There was a responsibility to act, but it was not met. The question before the Council today was why, and it must ensure that what happened in Rwanda never happened again. Today he would focus on the reports forward-looking recommendations. The Council had the power to prevent some of the events in Rwanda and could act to ensure it did not recur.
The overriding failure of the international community was the lack of resources put into Rwanda and the lack of political will to act, he said. The UNAMIR was called an «orphan» mission — set up following Somalia — and was smaller and weaker than was needed. Its mandate was based on an over-optimistic assessment of the situation in Rwanda. In addition, when the genocide started it was not acting as a coherent mission.
A mission of 2,500 troops should have been able to prevent at least part of the genocide, yet, when the genocide started, despite some acts of protection, the Mission collapsed, he said. There was great bitterness in Rwanda about that. Those troops in Rwanda were criticized in the report, but it must be noted that those countries that did not send troops were culpable.
Political will was the key, he said. The lack of political will to act was the most dangerous obstacle to United Nations’ activities for the maintenance of peace. The aspect that caused most bitterness in Rwanda was the Council’s decision to reduce the strength of UNAMIR to about one tenth of its original number after the genocide started and despite knowledge of it. That lack of desire to act strongly in the face of the actions of extremists put civilians and the remaining troops at risk.
The report attempts to improve the United Nations’ capacity in the field of peacekeeping, he said. He asked Council members to take seriously the fact that the United Nations was the only organization that could bring global legitimacy to peacekeeping. Failed missions dramatically undermined the Organization. He called on the Council to give missions the mandate they needed, to mobilize the troops and resources needed, and to show the same responsibility irrespective of where action was needed. He called on the Secretary-General to continue to improve the Secretariat and to ensure he told the Council exactly what was needed. The Council then had a responsibility to ensure that short-term financial constraints did not prevent effective action.
The real challenge would be to bring the lessons from the report into the everyday planning for peacekeeping, he added. He hoped the Millennium Summit and the Millennium Assembly would be used to create the political imperatives to make peacekeeping work.
The main lessons to be drawn from the much-discussed cable from the Force Commander, he said, were that any information on a threat to exterminate populations should be shared with the Council as a whole, and must then lead to action. Efforts to improve early warning mechanisms had been made, but must continue. Information on human rights was often a key indicator of impending problems, and was so in Rwanda.
The lessons from Rwanda were about putting prevention into practice, he said. The Inquiry recommended explicit acknowledgment in mandates of the requirement to protect civilians. There could be no neutrality in the face of the threat of genocide or massive violations of human rights. Peacekeepers and the United Nations must act. The presence of a United Nations mission, whether or not its mandate included protection of civilians, would create an expectation among civilians that they would be protected. That must be taken into account in planning and mandating operations.
Preventing genocide was a duty, he said, and went beyond what was normally understood as prevention. The Inquiry called for the Secretary-General to initiate an action plan to face it. Early warning should be translated into early action. He hoped that the report would improve relations between Rwanda and the United Nations and that its recommendations would be taken on board
PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands) said that both the Rwanda and the Srebrenica reports were relevant to the present analysis. The report now before the Council reminded the members of the responsibility of the great majority of United Nations Member States that were not prepared to send any troops or materiel to Rwanda. Addressing the issue of feasibility, he asked what could have been done if the cable of Brigadier-General Dallaire had been handled properly? Simply replying that the proposed action would go beyond the mandate entrusted to UNAMIR did not constitute proper handling. Even though Rwanda’s membership of the Security Council complicated matters, the other 14 Council members should have been informed without delay.
Feasibility depended on timing, he said. Once the window of opportunity had passed, the need to intervene would usually increase in inverse proportion to a dwindling political will to do so. The Arusha Peace Agreement of 4 August 1993 had been welcomed with a sense of relief, because it gave the international community a peace process to support. The fact that even after the genocide had begun, many protagonists continued to focus on the risk of jeopardizing the Arusha Peace Agreement, as though that accord were of a higher value than the thousands of people who were being killed, was disconcerting.
There were a number of lessons to be learned from the report, he said. A peace process should not be treated as something of a higher order than the populations of the countries concerned. One should not clutch at a peace process that had ceased to be relevant; if a peace process was dead, it was the conflict that demanded attention. More attention should be paid to non- governmental organizations, since they had a wealth of up-to-date information from the ground. Evenhandedness was not a virtue when a genocide was going on.
Continuing, he said he did not object to further study of the possibility of suspending participation of the representative of a Member State on the Security Council, but believed that it would be difficult to define the nature and scale of the occurrence that might justify such a suspension. He was also concerned about the general reluctance to acknowledge that, in the event of massive human rights abuses in a given country, the government of that country might be in the wrong.
Everything must be done to prevent future catastrophes of the type that took place in Srebrenica and Rwanda, he said, and he supported the proposals for enhancing early warning and early response capacity. False expectation by a United Nations presence should, however, not be aroused, as had happened in Srebrenica and Rwanda. One could never be sure that frightened civilians would not force their way into the compound of a United Nations peace operation and then expect protection beyond that operation’s legal mandate. That might well be the most important problem to be studied by the Brahimi panel, for as long as it was not solved, it jeopardized the whole concept of peace operations. “The inarticulate urge to do something is a notoriously bad motivating force, but the solution cannot be that we do not do what does need to be done”, he concluded.
VALERI KUCHYNSKI (Ukraine) said that for Ukraine, genocide was not a mere term. It had witnessed an unspeakable tragedy, when more than 7 million were exterminated within two years by the well-planned famine. Those events took place in the country once called the “bread basket” of Europe. In both cases, the international community was aware of the actual developments, but did nothing to prevent and eventually stop the tragedy. Therefore, as stated by Mr. Carlsson, no consideration of a political, organizational or financial nature should prevent the international community and the Council, on its behalf, from taking decisive and uncompromising measures in the face of such catastrophes.
The major point of the report was that it had become the subject for multifaceted and multifold work, he said. He hoped it would bear fruit with regard to the work of the Organization and its organs, as well as to the commitments of individual Member States to their responsibilities stemming from the United Nations Charter and their role in the modern world. Genocide was a tragedy of such immense scale that its causes and consequences had individual distinctions, and they were unlikely to repeat with the same dynamic in other cases. The report, however, and the work done in that direction were important. “With factual accuracy, it made us not only look at ourselves, but to see in this mirror all shortcomings, mistakes and failures of the United Nations and the whole international community.”
The President of the Council, Mr. AXWORTHY (Canada), then said that it was appropriate in the context of the discussion to announce that the Council had asked the Permanent Representative of the United States, Richard Holbrooke, to lead a Security Council mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, designed to accelerate acceptance of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement.
RICHARD C. HOLBROOKE (United States) said that the report made clear that in Rwanda -– as in Bosnia and Somalia -– “we failed”. The collective failures of governments in those three catastrophes nearly brought the United Nations system down. It sparked a political and institutional crisis from which the system was just now starting to recover. The United States accepted its own shortcomings in that depressing period and had done so with openness and candor. The atrocities carried out in Rwanda were done so by a small group of murderers intent on using hate to preserve their hold on power. Those were political acts and those that perpetrated them should be held responsible. “And, by not acting against such violence when there were clear indications that it would take place, so should we.”
The report pulled no punches, spared no responsibilities, and left no stone unturned, he said. It was both a historical record and a blueprint for the future. That future must now be the highest priority. The prevention of another round of genocidal violence in central Africa was one of the core elements of United States policy in the Great Lakes, and was one of the United Nations’ greatest challenges. The legacy of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Rwanda, Burundi and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a tragic reality that must be addressed.
With regard to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the cycle of impunity must end, he continued. The discussion today should galvanize support for United Nations sanctions against the ex-FAR and Interahamwe. Planning and preparations for demobilization and reintegration of those and other armed groups in the Great Lakes region must also begin. In Rwanda, the United States supported the International Tribunal and had continued to press for reforms to make it more effective. It also supported Rwanda’s own domestic justice system and allocated $25 million for the Great Lakes Justice Initiative to re-establish and strengthen the rule of law.
He said that the full implementation of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement and a rededication to the institutions of justice offered the best hope for an end to the present crisis. It could not be said that the solution to Rwanda’s problems lay exclusively in actions within the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Neither could it be said that Rwanda’s problems should be solved without addressing the presence of the genocidal militias in a neighbouring State. Lusaka’s full implementation, local and international justice, and democratization and institution-building in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were the keys to the prevention of further conflict and genocide.
MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said that the main conclusion drawn from the analysis of the report was that the Organization and its Member States did not manage to prevent or halt the genocide in Rwanda. The report had castigated the lack of political will to halt the genocide, as well as the weakening of the mandate of UNAMIR. In addition to pointing out the deficiencies of the Organization, the report contained many proposals and recommendations. Today’s meeting was useful in making States think constructively and openly to formulate guidelines for improving the United Nations capacity to respond effectively to conflicts.
He noted several areas that needed consideration, among them the capacity of the United Nations in peacekeeping operations, the mobilization of adequate resources, strengthening of the Secretariat in the area of planning operations, defining the mandate of operations and cooperation between the Organization and regional and subregional organizations. With regard to the decision-making process in the Council and the necessary political will, fairness must be shown in dealing with issues relating to Africa, as compared to other conflict areas. The political will to act in the face of genocide should be clear and not be subject to double standards. There should be no attempts to put forward national interest before international peace and security.
Also, he continued, the capability of the United Nations to analyse and respond to information should be improved. There was also a need to improve the flow and circulation of information. The United Nations should continue to give aid and assistance to Rwanda for reconstruction. The Organization should take responsibility for its part, and seek a new start in its relationship with Rwanda.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that the report highlighted a range of failures encompassing all those involved and put forward a number of recommendations for the future. Perhaps most damning was the apparent failure to face up to the reality on the ground when it really mattered. That failure became evident in two important aspects. First, the original mandate was based on the commitment of the parties to the Arusha Peace Agreement, but did not properly take account of the fragility of that Agreement. Second, and most important, the Council failed to respond to the drastically changing situation on the ground.
It was apparent that there were real problems in the flow of information, including to the Council, he continued. Some of the causes were structural. But there also appeared to have been a perception –- probably justified -– that the Council, and perhaps the United Nations membership as a whole, did not have the political stomach for hearing and responding to the unadorned truth. That was fundamental. The Council needed accurate, timely and unfiltered information. At the same time, the Council and United Nations membership as a whole must demonstrate the political will to act on that situation, however unpalatable, to tackle complex humanitarian emergencies.
It was easy to underline the need for greater responsiveness and flexibility, he said. “But we, as a Council, have to be clear that no peacekeeping mandate is set in stone, that operational changes are part of the Council’s business and that the underlying principle and responsibilities of the United Nations must not be ignored or set aside.” For a peacekeeping mission to work, there must be a peace to keep. It was right that any peacekeeping mission be based on the commitment of all parties to a peace accord. As the report made clear, any peacekeeping operation needed to have both political analysis and human rights monitoring capacity. It was also important for the United Nations to continue efforts to strengthen its rapid reaction capability.
ARNOLDO M. LISTRE (Argentina) said the report was an exemplary gesture, and he was grateful for the chance to have an open debate on it. The report was comprehensive, objective and very important. All Council members, the United Nations as a whole and the international community should think about the mistakes, failings and lack of resolve it identified. The United Nations did not do enough. Rwandans were abandoned when they most needed help.
Perhaps this was because the United Nations was not militarily and politically prepared for the events, he said, but it was also possible that it was not psychologically prepared. It was not appropriate to apportion blame, but the world would not forgive the Council if it allowed such things to happen again, as a result of not taking notice of its failings in Rwanda.
The main strategies to prevent conflicts were preventive diplomacy, preventive deployment and preventive disarmament, as the Secretary-General had said, he explained. The United Nations must become a source of those preventive actions. Regarding peacekeeping operations he had four points. First, those operations must have clear, realistic mandates commensurate with the Council’s goals and backed with the necessary political, military and moral decisions. Second, financial resources for those missions must be reliable and appropriate. Third, reasonable security guarantees for United Nations and associated staff must be provided. Fourth, mandates must include clear instructions for the protection of civilians when serious attacks against them occurred. The United Nations could not be indifferent to such situations. New mandates that enabled missions to act under Chapter VII of the Charter if such action was needed, were steps in the correct direction.
Human security must be discussed, as must the protection of civilians in armed conflict, and he welcomed initiatives already made to that end, he said. Human rights and humanitarian law must be protected. Within certain limitations, there was an adequate normative framework for those two areas, but wide gaps existed between the standards and their observation. National and international mechanisms must be established, as justice was an essential aspect for peace. He welcomed the work of the International Tribunals and the signing of the Rome agreement on the International Criminal Court.
Argentina had heard, through the news media yesterday, the statements made by the former UNAMIR Force Commander, he said. The events in Rwanda must move all to undertake deep reflection and analysis. As the Secretary-General had said, the United Nations’ commitment to address a problem did not exclude moral judgements. Rather, it required moral judgements.
ANDREI GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said that, unfortunately, the clock could not be turned back and the victims could not be resurrected. Lessons must be drawn, however, to ensure that what happened in Rwanda did not happen again. The Council must meticulously take into account the conclusions and recommendations of the report in planning for future peacekeeping operations. He attached particular importance to the protection of civilians in areas where United Nations peacekeeping operations were in place. It was crucial to avoid creating illusions that were not backed up by the real capabilities of the United Nations operation. Norms and guidelines for operations must reflect the reality on the ground.
Concerning the current situation in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region as a whole, he said the international community needed to assist Rwandans in dealing with the effects of genocide and in punishing the perpetrators. The spinning wheel of violence must finally be stopped. He called on forces to lay down their arms and intensify the search for a political settlement, which might lead to a comprehensive solution to the situation in the region.
MOHAMMAD KAMAL YAN YAHAYA (Malaysia) said the formal consideration of this report was overdue. For too long, the Organization had shied away from acknowledging its serious flaws in judgement in its handling of events in Rwanda. The Council must muster the courage to accept and recognize, in all humility, its shortcomings. The report was sobering and critical.
Aside from what the report contained, he said, the timing of the release of the report was significant. It had come on the heels of an equally critical internal report detailing the United Nations responsibility in regard to the overrunning of the Srebrenica safe area. Together they represented a new standard of candor in the United Nations. It would take honesty, and a clear idea of what had gone wrong in the past, for the Council to arrive at a set of clear criteria and guidelines on how to better implement and coordinate, in future, the whole range of United Nations activities for peace and security.
The report clearly attributed responsibility for the inadequacy of the Mission’s original mandate where it belonged, he said. Inadequate and flawed analysis underpinned the recommendations to the Council, and the Council accepted that the Mission be composed of fewer troops than the field mission felt was needed. The UNAMIR’s mandate was cautious, as was its application. Council members must share that responsibility, some more so than others. There was no will to deploy a more substantial force, and it was clear from the report that an adequate number of trained and equipped troops could have averted the tragedy. The experience of Somalia appeared to have had a constraining effect on the Secretariat, in particular with regard to risks that could be assumed during peacekeeping. Responsibility must also be shared by those Member States that did not send troops.
Many questions that should have been addressed by the Independent Inquiry were left in abeyance, he said. The possibility of establishing the identity of the perpetrators and possible accomplices should have been considered. In addition, the report was based on evidence from only one side –- the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and its collaborators –- although interviews with those in exile would have also been useful. It could have been useful for the Inquiry to have recommended establishing a more detailed commission of inquiry into the Rwanda genocide.
Rwandans did not only mourn Tutsis and moderate Hutus massacred in 1994, he said, but all who had been massacred by extremists before and after that period, as well. In the aftermath of the 1994 tragedy, he noted that the Organization had learned lessons. The failure of communication within the Secretariat and with the Security Council was less likely now, but better communication was not the whole answer. The capacity of the United Nations could only ever be as strong as the commitment by its leading Member States to provide the necessary resources. It was regrettable that questions of the selectivity of Council interest had resulted from the Council’s response to the Rwandan tragedy.
The report should be a turning point, he said. The Organization must make a difference to populations at risk wherever they were. A key to the tragedy of Srebrenica was that the Council had stationed a token force there –- enough to allow it to claim it cared, but too small to actually help. It was imperative that the 14 recommendations in the report be seriously considered.
OTHMAN JERANDI (Tunisia) said that six years ago, the people of Rwanda suffered a tragedy that marked their history. The international community and the United Nations did not react in time to halt the disaster and prevent the genocide. The report, which highlighted the failings of the international community, could not fail to enhance awareness and reflection on how to prevent such events in the future. Undoubtedly, it would serve as a benchmark in dealing with future crises in regard to peacekeeping operations. At the same time, the report did not detract from highlighting the bravery of the forces of UNAMIR. As the report noted, some measures had been taken in the past few years to enhance the United Nations’ capacity, but additional measures were required to prevent disasters in the future. The issue of political will was vital in that consideration.
WANG YINGFAN (China) said that the report made fruitful efforts in summing up the efforts of the United Nations during the Rwandan genocide. The international community had failed to prevent that tragedy. The lessons learned merited further discussion on how to improve peacekeeping operations and the Council’s ability to deal with such situations. The report made various recommendations that concerned the various departments of the United Nations. It also addressed the issues of strengthening the political will of Member States and the mobilization of adequate resources.
He said the recommendations warranted further study by the departments concerned and needed to be comprehensively considered in the context of strengthening the role of the United Nations in the twenty-first century. The United Nations had been trying to strengthen its peacekeeping operations and reduce mistakes to the greatest extent possible. The lessons drawn from Rwanda would shed much light on that endeavour.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said this debate provided an opportunity to think about the lessons to be learned from the international inaction on the Rwanda tragedy. The United Nations must no longer be inactive or impotent in the face of such tragedies. France had set up its own parliamentary fact- finding mission on Rwanda some time ago. It believed that truth must be looked in the face. The United Nations had failed in its mission, and the so-called «Carlsson report” gave a thorough analysis of the failure. It highlighted the shortcomings of the decision-making processes, the mistakes made and the absence of any reaction to the genocide.
As the Independent Inquiry had said, the context at the United Nations at the time of the tragedy was tense, and the United Nations already had some 70,000 peacekeepers in the field around the world. There were difficulties elsewhere. That said, and despite UNAMIR’s troops doing as much as they could, the overall picture was one of failure. The United Nations did not assist Rwandans and the whole United Nations bore the responsibility.
Throughout 1998, prior to the establishment of the United Nations investigation, the French Parliamentary fact-finding mission had gathered testimony, he said. All of that information was made public. Its work made it possible to better understand aspects of the actions. The Carlsson report added to the understanding.
He said France had earlier made efforts to avoid a military solution to Rwanda’s problems and to encourage the parties to share power. The events in Rwanda must be placed in context, and that context extended back to 1959, and to the end of colonization. The Parliamentary report had established that while France was aware of certain risks in Rwanda, it had underestimated the upsurge in extremism. Nonetheless, it tried to mobilize the United Nations to act to prevent the massacre. Neither other Member States nor the Secretariat used the available information any better. That went a long way towards explaining the United Nations’ inability to prevent the genocide. Despite both reports, one element of the tragedy was still unclear, and that was the establishment of what elements triggered the genocide.
In the face of the genocide, and the delays and difficulties in strengthening UNAMIR, France established Operation Turquoise and thereby assisted people under threat, he continued. The Operation was established in a transparent fashion and with the Council’s authorization. He was aware of criticisms of the Operation, but asked if France could have remained passive in the face of events. The Carlsson report reflected some of the criticism of Operation Turquoise, but also noted that many of the people questioned had said the operation saved lives, at a time when few other initiatives were taken.
Now the Council needed to learn the lesson of the Rwandan failure, he said. The Rwandan tragedy had occurred in a particularly unstable environment. He recalled the massacres in Burundi in October 1993, to which there was no international response. Regional instability increased as a result. Even after the failure to address the genocide, the United Nations had not addressed successive crises in the Great Lakes region. It did not react to the armed elements in the refugee camps in eastern Zaire. There had been disagreement in the Council about further operations, and in some cases that had meant that potential operations were abandoned. The magnitude of the consequences of that had not yet been measured.
Since August 1998, the United Nations had been confronted by war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. Information had been received that described the violence and stressed the seriousness of the situation. He wondered whether the necessary action would be taken this time. As the Inquiry’s report was taken up by the Council, conclusions must be drawn that would influence decisions about the Organization’s work in other parts of the Great Lakes region.
The report called for help to be provided to Rwanda for reconstruction, reconciliation and the promotion of human rights, he said. Help must also be provided for the achievement of justice. France supported that appeal for help, and provided assistance in cooperation with its fellow members of the European Union. The Secretary-General had proposed a new partnership between the United Nations and Rwanda and he hoped that could happen. He hoped that Rwanda would move towards a calm democracy, thereby adding to regional stability.
The United Nations must act to ensure its response to the situation in the entire Great Lakes region was ongoing, he said. The deployment of phase two of the mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been authorized and the Council must now see that the mission received the necessary means and funding. The Council must apply pressure impartially on all the belligerents to ensure they met their commitments under the Lusaka Peace Agreement. The Council mission that had been announced today would be an opportunity for it to get its messages across. The effective deployment of phase two of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) would attest to the international community’s commitment to restore peace in that country and in the Great Lakes region.
He also recalled the situation in Burundi, he said, where the Council had supported the facilitation mission by President Nelson Mandela and the efforts of the Burundian parties to find peace. That would be a difficult process. Since the sanctions on Burundi had been lifted, the international community must speedily resume economic assistance to reinforce stability in that country.
On the Council’s work, there were two key points he drew from the report, he said. First, when setting up new operations, better preparation and better information should inform the Council’s decisions. Information provided by the Secretariat should be supplemented by information from other sources, and particularly by historical data. Second, the Council needed to improve its follow-up on missions it mandated. Once missions were deployed, the Council often failed to carefully follow the implementation of its mandates. That should be done regularly and systematically. The Council must refocus its work on addressing crises and on United Nations peacekeeping operations. More time should be spent on those, and less time on thematic subjects. The goal should be to put the Council in a better position to assess field risks and adapt mandates to those risks.
In the face of violence and the massacre of civilians, decisions required of the Council and troop contributors would always be particularly difficult, he said. In future, when the Council committed the United Nations to act, it should be sufficiently mindful of the Inquiry’s report. Otherwise, it would be betraying the memory of the victims. The attitude of the Council to the violence in East Timor was a welcome change, and the rapid deployment of the Australian-led mission had stopped the violence. But, in other places, the Council’s decisions needed to end massive violations of human rights and humanitarian law had not been taken.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said that the observations and recommendations of the Inquiry were pertinent and needed to be taken into account when dealing with conflict situations around the world. It was important for the international community to focus its resources on addressing the root causes of conflict and to be proactive in preventing conflict from occurring in the first place. Also, Member States needed to exercise the necessary political will to address conflicts, in a timely and adequate fashion irrespective of where they occurred.
It could not be overemphasized that each and every peacekeeping operation needed to be equipped with an appropriate mandate and adequate human and material resources, he continued. It was true that peacekeeping was costly, but peace did not come cheap. Often, when peacekeeping missions were being considered, troop size and the costs involved were foremost in the minds of Member States.
Further, adequate planning for each operation with the necessary technical and political input was vital for the success of any peacekeeping mission, he said. Also, continuous evaluation, monitoring and support were required and adjustments should be made to ensure that the mission was effectively dealing with the situation on the ground. In addition, the protection of civilians under threat should form part of peacekeeping operations. The lessons learned from Rwanda clearly illustrated that point. He noted with regret that, despite the experience of Rwanda, some of the problematic measures highlighted in the report as having contributed to inaction in Rwanda in 1994 were still being applied today, as the United Nations considered taking action on certain conflict situations.
In addition, he called on the international community to assist the Rwandan society in its reconstruction and development efforts. He supported the Inquiry’s call for assistance, paying particular attention to the need for reconstruction, genuine national reconciliation and respect for human rights. Finally, he commended the United Nations personnel within UNAMIR, and in the programmes and agencies, who at that difficult time made tremendous efforts under extremely dangerous conditions and saved the lives of many civilians, political leaders and United Nations staff, as stated in the report.
F.A. SHAMIM AHMED (Bangladesh) said the report assigned responsibility for the United Nations’ failure in Rwanda, and also provided an elaborate analysis of the situation. All bore responsibility, and that responsibility should be acknowledged in the clearest terms. The United Nations was established to «save succeeding generations from the scourge of war», in the words of its Charter. When the Charter was drafted attention was focused on world wars, as civil wars were probably seen as things of the past.
What happened in Rwanda should not have happened in this century, and particularly after the creation of the United Nations, he said. The genocide could have been prevented. It was because of the international community’s colossal failure to do so — a failure the size of which could be measured in hundreds of thousands of human lives -– that the international community should now do its part for the socio-economic development of Rwanda. The best demonstration of remorse would be to act correctly in the future. That would also serve as the best apology for the failure to adequately act, and as the best homage to those massacred.
M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said that the report’s conclusions indicated that the events could have been prevented. The focus of the discussion now must be on how the Council could develop preventive measures to be used in crisis situations. The Council must strengthen its conflict prevention capabilities, become proactive and not wait until thousands died before action was taken. It remained the responsibility of the Council to prevent breaches of the peace and it must not abdicate that responsibility. The credibility of the Council was constantly being questioned in the face of various worldwide crises. Not to take action on the recommendations presented would mean that 800,000 Rwandans died in vain.
Many reasons were given for the failure of the international community, the United Nations and the Council to prevent one of the major tragedies of the twentieth century, she said. Perhaps the major failure was to recognize the tell-tale signs of impending tragedy and formulate an adequate response. One of the recommendations aimed at improving the capabilities of peacekeeping operations. Since its inception, UNAMIR was hindered by an unclear mandate, inadequate resources and the lack of political will to support any action. She paid tribute to the peacekeeping and humanitarian personnel who fought to protect peace, even when the international community turned a blind eye.
Future missions, she continued, should be designed to allow for adaptation to rapidly changing circumstances, including rapid deployment capacity when the situation on the ground warranted it. The Council could not continue to send troops without giving them the room to manoeuvre. The mission’s mandate must reflect the situation on the ground and be backed up by the necessary political will. A mechanism must be designed to allow the force commander to determine the best course of action and rapidly deploy troops if necessary. Also, once troops were deployed, they must be under the control of a single authority.
The Council, after the fact, had taken action to bring the perpetrators to justice by establishing the Rwanda Tribunal, but it must not stop there, she stated. The United Nations and the international community had the moral obligation to ensure that another genocide never occurred again. Rwanda would continue to need the assistance of the international community. “Let us not fail them a second time”, she said.
Council President LLOYD AXWORTHY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, speaking in his national capacity, said no one in the Council Chamber could look back at the genocide in Rwanda without remorse and sadness over the international community’s abject failure to help the people of Rwanda in their time of need. The Rwandan tragedy came close to extinguishing belief in the United Nations capacity to fulfil its founding purpose. The best way to honour the victims of the Rwandan tragedy was through a firm commitment never to turn away from civilians victimized by armed conflict, but to protect them in both word and deed.
The culture of impunity must end, he said. Council members had a special responsibility to ensure that the statute of the International Criminal Court be ratified and made to work effectively. Information flow must be improved and the Council needed to continue to broaden its range of interlocutors and sources of information. Rapid and resolute response was essential and enhancing United Nations stand-by arrangements was vital. The Council must become more actively engaged in making sure that the capacity, resources, robust mandates and clear rules of engagement were in place to carry out the peacekeeping operations it authorized. Although there were signs that the Council was taking that lesson to heart, its response to the Democratic Republic of the Congo suggested there was still room for improvement.
In the most severe cases -– genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and systematic violations of human rights and humanitarian law — the protection of civilians required military intervention, he said. He stressed, however, that outside intervention was only conceivable when those who controlled the State were unable or unwilling to bring an end to widespread suffering. Any discussion about the use of force must assure that there was justification for such action. Once that had been determined, there must be guidelines for action based on: whether time had run out for peaceful means to resolve the threat; whether the threat could jeopardize regional or international security; and whether not being able to intervene everywhere meant not intervening anywhere. Lastly, there must be a framework for action that was permissive enough to stop massive and systematic violations, but with safeguards to ensure that it was not misused.
Continuing, he said there must be certainty that: the severity of the crisis was fully corroborated; the military force would end widespread suffering and loss of life; the level of force employed was appropriate; and the use of force was multilateral, widely supported and part of a longer-term strategy to build and sustain peace. Although it had been suggested that the Council was not ready to engage in a debate on that issue, the price of inaction had been too high. If the Council had grappled with the subject earlier, more might have been done to avoid the Rwandan genocide. The most important proposal contained in the Inquiry was for a system-wide action plan to prevent genocide. To that he would add all crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Millennium Assembly offered an occasion to work towards that goal, he said.
JOSEPH W. MUTABOBA (Rwanda) said that every word, every phrase, every paragraph of the report revived details of what went wrong, when, how and, shyly, why. The report showed beyond a doubt that the world had failed Rwanda. Victims of genocide in Rwanda were cruelly suffering from physical, psychological and post-trauma hardships. The Rwandan Government was bleeding itself to contain those cries, but in vain, given the dimensions of the problem and the means available to it. A unique mini-Marshall plan was needed for Rwanda, as rightly noted in the corridors, but on an individual basis. It was possible to shock the world again, by doing something dramatically positive, at last.
«We have concerns and the Carlsson report is your report”, he said. «What you do with it is what matters to the world and the victims.” The report clearly challenged the conscience of the international community and evoked the responsibility of the parties to the 1948 Genocide Convention. The reluctance to acknowledge that genocide was going on in Rwanda was a manifestation of the unwillingness on the part of the powerful to live up to that responsibility. To date, many of those who masterminded the genocide were still at large. As Rwanda struggled to rebuild itself, he requested the international community’s assistance in that process.

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