Rwanda’s hostility toward U.N. justified

While U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Rwandan officials bicker over politics, they are not doing justice to the 500,000 Rwandan people who lie dead from the 1994 genocide. Since the genocide, hostility between Rwandan government officials and U.N. representatives continue to mount. The Rwandan government’s responsibility for the genocide was clear. It could have been more aggressive in combatting the Hutu-organized killings. What is unclear is how much the rest of the world was responsible for not stopping the deaths of primarily minority Tutsis. World governments knew about the mass killings, but turned a blind eye when Rwandan politicians asked for help. Even today, the United Nations has yet to publicly claim some responsibility for not stopping Rwandan genocide.
Officials in Kigali, Rwanda seem willing to cooperate with the United Nations in a genocide investigation. Sunday’s statement comes days after the Rwandan government wanted Annan to address the United Nation’s failure to intervene during the genocide. But when he visited the country last week, Annan surprised Rwandan officials when his apology on behalf of the world turned out to be weak. After Annan’s visit, U.N. representatives continued to get snubbed. Just last Friday, Rwandan officials expelled U.N. human rights spokesman Jose Luis Herrero from the country because he criticized the recent executions of 22 people convicted in the 1994 genocide.
But the backlash against the United Nations and human rights workers occurred long before the last few months. In February of 1997, five human rights investigators were killed, allegedly by Hutu rebels charged with the murders. The hostile reception toward human rights workers and the United Nations apparently angered Annan. He recently announced how the United Nations would only engage with countries who were willing to cooperate with U.N. missions.
In defense of Annan, the United Nations’ hands are tied by an uncooperative Rwandan government. Also, the continuous withdrawal of peace-keeping officials by other countries positioned in Rwanda has left Annan standing alone in the request for world intervention. Like anywhere else in the world, each country is held accountable for its own fate. But regardless of an irresponsible Rwandan government, the world as a whole failed to stop the genocide and should claim a larger responsibility.
If genocide is ignored in highly civilized and industrialized nations, then such a tragedy is certainly dismissed in Third World nations that offer few economic incentives to the world marketplace. The genocide in Rwanda demonstrates a complete failure of foreign policy and world ethics. Countries in crisis, like Bosnia and the Asian economic collapse, might have good enough excuses for failure to intervene in other plights around the world. But countries like America, with its balanced budget and thriving economy, have no excuse. Passing off human rights violations in the name of accountability is one thing, but to allow the deaths of a half a million people ought to make the world feel ashamed.