Approximately 800,000 people were killed during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The systematic slaughter of men, women and children which took place over the course of about 100 days between April and July of 1994 will forever be remembered as one of the most abhorrent events of the twentieth century. Rwandans killed Rwandans, brutally decimating the Tutsi population of the country, but also targetting moderate Hutus. Appalling atrocities were committed, by militia and the armed forces, but also by civilians against other civilians.
The international community did not prevent the genocide, nor did it stop the killing once the genocide had begun. This failure has left deep wounds within Rwandan society, and in the relationship between Rwanda and the international community, in particular the United Nations. These are wounds which need to be healed, for the sake of the people of Rwanda and for the sake of the United Nations. Establishing the truth is necessary for Rwanda, for the United Nations and also for all those, wherever they may live, who are at risk of becoming victims of genocide in the future.
In seeking to establish the truth about the role of the United Nations during the genocide, the Independent Inquiry hopes to contribute to building renewed trust between Rwanda and the United Nations, to help efforts of reconciliation among the people of Rwanda, and to contribute to preventing similar tragedies from occurring ever again. The Inquiry has analysed the role of the various actors and organs of the United Nations system. Each part of that system, in particular the Secretary-General, the Secretariat, the Security Council and the Member States of the organisation, must assume and acknowledge their respective parts of the responsibility for the failure of the international community in Rwanda. Acknowledgement of responsibility must also be accompanied by a will for change: a commitment to ensure that catastrophes such as the genocide in Rwanda never occur anywhere in the future.
The failure by the United Nations to prevent, and subsequently, to stop the genocide in Rwanda was a failure by the United Nations system as a whole. The fundamental failure was the lack of resources and political commitment devoted to developments in Rwanda and to the United Nations presence there. There was a persistent lack of political will by Member States to act, or to act with enough assertiveness. This lack of political will affected the response by the Secretariat and decision-making by the Security Council, but was also evident in the recurrent difficulties to get the necessary troops for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR). Finally, although UNAMIR suffered from a chronic lack of resources and political priority, it must also be said that serious mistakes were made with those resources which were at the disposal of the United Nations .
In a letter dated 18 March 1999 (S/1994/339), the Secretary-General informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint an independent inquiry into the actions of the United Nations during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. In their reply (S/1999/340), the members of the Council expressed their support for the initiative in this unique circumstance. In May 1999, the Secretary-General appointed Mr Ingvar Carlsson (former Prime Minister of Sweden), Professor Han Sung-Joo (former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea) and Lieutenant-General Rufus M Kupolati (rtd.) (Nigeria) to conduct the inquiry.
The Independent Inquiry was given the mandate of establishing the facts related to the response of the United Nations to the genocide in Rwanda, covering the period October 1993 to July 1994, and to make recommendations to the Secretary-General on this subject. The present report is submitted pursuant to that mandate.
The terms of reference stated that the Inquiry should establish a chronology of key events pertaining to UN involvement in Rwanda from October 1993 to July 1994. It should evaluate the mandate and resources of UNAMIR and how they affected the response of the United Nations to the events relating to the massacres. The Inquiry was asked to draw relevant conclusions and identify the lessons to be learned from the tragedy and to report to the Secretary-General not later than six months from the commencement of the inquiry. The terms of reference also stated that the Inquiry would have unrestricted access to all UN documentation and persons involved.
The Inquiry began its work on 17 June 1999.
The mandate of the Independent Inquiry covered the actions of the United Nations as a whole. The task of the Inquiry thus included studying the actions of UNAMIR, the Secretary-General and the Secretariat, as well as the Member States of the organization and the political organs in which they are represented. With respect to actions of Member States, the Inquiry has focussed on positions taken which affected the response of the United Nations to the tragedy in Rwanda. It will be task of other bodies to analyse the broader issues raised by individual countries’ positions on the Rwandan issue.
The Organization of African Unity (OAU) and other regional actors played important roles throughout the peace process and during the crisis in Rwanda. The mandate of the Inquiry being focussed on the role of the United Nations, emphasis is placed in this context on the influence which regional actors had on that role. The OAU International Panel of Eminent Persons, whose report is due to come out next year, will no doubt be able to reflect fully all the various aspects of the regional perspective on the genocide in Rwanda.
In the course of its work the Inquiry interviewed a large number of persons with knowledge relevant to its mandate. A list of those interviewed is contained in Annex II.
The Inquiry conducted research into the archives of the United Nations as part of its work. In addition to documents contained in the central archives of the organization, the Inquiry also studied files maintained by different departments within the United Nations, including the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Political Affairs, and files from the archives of UNAMIR. The Inquiry also benefitted from documents and materials made available to it by governmental and non-governmental sources. In a letter dated 8 September, the Inquiry invited all countries which contributed troops to UNAMIR during the period covered by the mandate to make available comments or information to the Inquiry.
The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide lays down the criteria for what acts are to be considered a genocide, one of the most heinous crimes which can be committed against a human population. Essentially, the Convention requires both that certain acts have been committed, and that they be done with a particular intent: that of destroying, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such. The Security Council used the same criteria in outlining the mandate of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), contained in resolution 955 (1994). The ICTR has determined that the mass killings of Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994 constituted genocide. It was a genocide planned and incited by Hutu extremists against the Tutsi.
Arusha Peace Agreement
On 4 August 1993, following years of negotiations, the Government of Rwanda and the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) signed the Arusha Peace Agreement. The Agreement provided for a broad role for the United Nations, through what the agreement termed the Neutral International Force (NIF), in the supervision of implementation of the Accords during a transitional period which was to last 22 months. Previously, in a letter to the Secretary-General on 14 June 1993 (S/25951), the government and the RPF had jointly requested the establishment of such a force and asked the Secretary-General to send a reconnaissance team to Rwanda to plan the force. The parties agreed that the existing OAU Neutral Monitoring Group (NMOG II) might be integrated into the NIF.
According to the Arusha Peace Agreement, the NIF was to assist in the implementation of the Peace Agreement, especially through the supervision of the protocol on the integration of armed forces of the two parties. The force was assigned wide security tasks: to guarantee the overall security of the country and verify the maintenance of law and order, ensure the security of the delivery of humanitarian assistance and to assist in catering to the security of civilians. The force was also asked to assist in tracking arms caches and in the neutralization of armed gangs throughout the country, undertake mine clearance operations, assist in the recovery of all weapons distributed to or illegally acquired by civilians, and monitor the observance of the cessation of hostilities. Furthermore, the NIF was expected to assume responsibility for the establishment and preparation of assembly and cantonment points, and to determine security parameters for Kigali, with the objective of making it a neutral zone. Among its other tasks, the NIF was to supervise the demobilisation of those servicemen and gendarmes who were not going to be part of the new armed forces. The NIF was to be informed of any violation of the cease-fire and track down the perpetrators.
The timetable of the Agreement proceeded from the assumption that the NIF could be deployed in about a month, a proposition that United Nations officials had informed the parties would not be realistic well in advance of the signing of the agreement. In the months before the agreement was signed, the Government, which had delayed signing the agreement, pressed the United Nations to begin planning deployment already before the accords had been signed. The United Nations maintained that it was necessary for the parties to show their commitment to the peace process by signing the accords before a peacekeeping operation could begin to be planned.
Only a week after the signing of the Agreement, the United Nations published a report which gave an ominously serious picture of the human rights situation in Rwanda. The report described the visit to Rwanda by the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr Waly Bacre Ndiaye, from 8 to 17 April 1993. Ndiaye determined that massacres and a plethora of other serious human rights violations were taking place in Rwanda. The targeting of the Tutsi population led Ndiaye to discuss whether the term genocide might be applicable. He stated that he could not pass judgment at that stage, but, citing the Genocide Convention, went on to say that the cases of intercommunal violence brought to his attention indicated “very clearly that the victims of the attacks, Tutsis in the overwhelming majority of cases, have been targeted solely because of their membership of a certain ethnic group and for no other objective reason.” Although Ndiaye – in addition to pointing out the serious risk of genocide in Rwanda – recommended a series of steps to prevent further massacres and other abuses, his report seems to have been largely ignored by the key actors within the United Nations system.
In order to follow-up on the Arusha Agreement, the Secretary-General dispatched a reconnaissance mission to the region from 19 to 31 August 1993 to study the possible functions of the NIF and the resources needed for such a peacekeeping operation. The mission was led by Brigadier-General Romeo A. Dallaire, Canada, at the time Chief Military Observer of the United Nations Observer Mission Uganda-Rwanda (UNOMUR). The mission included representatives from different parts of the United Nations system.
On 10 September, the Security Council issued a presidential statement (S/26425) which welcomed the Arusha Accords, and stated that the Council was aware of the hopes of the Rwandese parties regarding assistance by the international community in the implementation of the Agreement. The recommendations of the reconnaissance mission had not yet been presented to the Security Council at this point.
On 15 September, a joint Government-RPF delegation met with the Secretary-General in New York. The delegation argued in favour of the rapid deployment of the international force and the rapid establishment of the transitional institutions. Warning that any delay might lead to the collapse of the peace process, the delegation expressed the wish for a force numbering 4,260. The Secretary-General gave the delegation a sobering message: that even if the Council were to approve a force of that size, it would take at least 2 – 3 months for it to be deployed. The United Nations might be able to deploy some further observers in addition to the 72 already sent, but even this would take weeks. Therefore the Rwandan people needed to be told that they had to rely on themselves during the interim period. The Government and the RPF had to make an effort to respect the cease-fire, the Secretary-General said, because it would be even more difficult to get troops if fighting were to resume. He also mentioned the enormous demands being made of the United Nations for troops, in particular in Somalia and Bosnia, and that the United Nations was going through a financial crisis.
The establishment of UNAMIR
On 24 September 1993, two weeks after the end of the original transitional period, the Secretary-General presented a report to the Security Council on the establishment of a peacekeeping operation in Rwanda (S/26488), based on the report from the reconnaissance mission. The report set out a deployment plan for a peacekeeping force of 2,548 military personnel. With operations divided into four phases, the Secretary-General proposed the immediate deployment of an advance party of about 25 military and 18 civilian personnel, and 3 civilian police. The first phase was to last 3 months, until the establishment of the Broad-based Transitional Government (BBTG), during which the operation would prepare the establishment of a secure area in Kigali and monitor the cease-fire. By the end of phase 1, the report of the Secretary-General stated that the operation was to number 1,428 military personnel.
The mission was to be divided into five sectors, covering Kigali, the De-militarized Zone (DMZ), the Government forces (RGF) and the RPF, respectively, with UNOMUR as a fifth sector. The three latter sectors would be staffed by military observers, who would be responsible for monitoring the implementation of the protocol on the integration of the armed forces. Among other tasks, this meant monitoring the observance of the cessation of hostilities, verifying the disengagement of forces, the movement of troops to assembly points and heavy weapons to cantonment points, and monitoring the demobilisation of members of the armed forces and the gendarmerie.
The Kigali and DMZ sectors would each have an infantry battalion and military observers. In addition to tasks similar to those in other sectors, in Kigali and the DMZ, it was proposed that UNAMIR assist in arms recovery and verification through checkpoints and patrol, as well as providing security at assembly and cantonment points. A small civilian police unit was to be given the task of verifying the maintenance of law and order.
On 5 October, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 872 (1993), which established UNAMIR. The Council did not approve all the elements of the mandate recommended by the Secretary-General, but instead decided on a more limited mandate. Notably absent was the suggestion that UNAMIR assist in the recovery of arms. Instead, the resolution decided that UNAMIR should contribute to the security of the city of Kigali, i.a., within a weapons-secure area established by the parties in and around the city (authors’ emphasis).
The mandate included the following other elements:
- to monitor observance of the cease-fire agreement, which called for the establishment of cantonment and assembly zones and the demarcation of the new DMZ and other demilitarization procedures;
- to monitor security situation during the final period of the transitional government’s mandate, leading up to the elections;
- to assist with mine clearance, primarily through training programmes;
- to investigate, at the request of the parties, or on its own initiative, instances of non-compliance with the provisions of the Protocol of Agreement on the Integration of the Armed Forces of the Two Parties, and to pursue any such instances with the parties responsible and report thereon as appropriate to the Secretary-General;
- to monitor the process of repatriation of Rwandese refugees and the resettlement of displaced persons to verify that it is carried out in a safe and orderly manner;
- to assist in the coordination of humanitarian assistance in conjunction with relief operations, and
- to investigate and report on incidents regarding the activities of the gendarmerie and police.
Dallaire was appointed Force Commander of the new mission. He arrived in Kigali on 22 October. He was joined by an advance party of 21 military personnel on
27 October. The Secretary-General subsequently appointed a former Foreign Minister of Cameroon, Mr Jacques-Roger Booh Booh, as his Special Representative in Rwanda. Booh Booh arrived in Kigali on 23 November 1993.
On 23 November 1993, Dallaire sent Headquarters a draft set of Rules of Engagement (ROE) for UNAMIR, asking for the approval of the Secretariat. The draft included in paragraph 17 a rule specifically allowing the mission to act, and even to use force, in response to crimes against humanity and other abuses (“There may also be ethnically or politically motivated criminal acts committed during this mandate which will morally and legally require UNAMIR to use all available means to halt them. Examples are executions, attacks on displaced persons or refugees”). Headquarters never responded formally to the Force Commander’s request for approval.
Developments in Rwanda during November and December 1993 gave the new peacekeeping operation cause for concern. The political process faced a stalemate. It was also becoming increasingly clear that the political difficulties were taking place against a backdrop of ever more evident violence. According to the United Nations, about 60 people were killed in violent incidents in November and December. UNAMIR’s reports from this period provide graphic descriptions of the ruthlessness with which these killings were carried out. Already at this stage, the optimistic atmosphere which had surrounded the signing at Arusha was beginning to be sobered by considerable concern about the armed activity in Rwanda, including the existence of armed militia. Moreover, the assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye of Burundi in late October, and the violent aftermath and the refugee flows which ensued, provided another worrying backdrop to the beginning of the peacekeeping operation which had not been foreseen when the mission was set up.
In early December, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs James O.C. Jonah travelled to Rwanda for a brief visit following the funeral of the President of Burundi. Jonah met with the President of Rwanda, Major-General Juvénal Habyarimana. According to Jonah, he had been requested orally by the Secretary-General to warn President Habyarimana that he had information that killings of the opposition were being planned, and that the United Nations would not stand for this. Jonah was not informed by the Secretary-General about the source of this information. President Habyarimana denied the allegation, a denial Jonah stated that he transmitted to the Secretary-General.
In a concerted effort to bring about movement in the political process, on 10 December, Booh Booh convened a meeting of the political parties in Kinihara, Rwanda. The meeting resulted in a joint declaration by which the parties reaffirmed their commitment to the goals of the Arusha Agreement. Nonetheless, the timetable the parties had agreed on was not implemented. At the end of December, an RPF battalion was installed in Kigali at the Conseil Nationale du Développement (CND) complex, in accordance with the Arusha Peace Agreement. On 5 January, the installation of President Habyarimana took place in accordance with the Agreement. However, disagreements among the parties continued to block the formation of the BBTG and the National Assembly.
On 11 January 1994, Dallaire sent the Military Adviser to the Secretary-General, Major-General Maurice Baril, a telegram entitled “Request for Protection for Informant”, which has come to figure prominently in the discussions about what knowledge was available to the United Nations about the risk of genocide. The telegram stated that Dallaire had been put into contact with an informant who was a top level trainer in the Interahamwe militia. The contact had been set up by a “very very important government politician” (who in later correspondence was identified as the Prime Minister Designate, Mr Faustin Twagiramungu). The cable contained a number of key pieces of information.
The first related to a strategy to provoke the killing of Belgian soldiers and the Belgian battalion’s withdrawal. The informant had been in charge of demonstrations a few days earlier, with the aim of targetting opposition deputies and Belgian soldiers. The Interahamwe hoped to provoke the RPF battalion into firing at the demonstrators. The deputies were to be assassinated. Belgian troops were to be provoked. If the Belgian soldiers used force, a number of them were to be killed, which was to guarantee the withdrawal of the Belgian contingent from Rwanda.
Secondly, the informant said that the Interahamwe had trained 1,700 men in the camps of the RGF, scattered in groups of 40 throughout Kigali. He had been ordered to register all Tutsi in Kigali, and suspected it was for their extermination. He said that his personnel was able to kill up to 1,000 Tutsi in 20 minutes.
Thirdly, the informant had told of a major weapons cache with at least 135 weapons (G 3 and AK 47). He was prepared to show UNAMIR the location if his family was given protection.
Having described the information received from the informant, Dallaire went on to inform the Secretariat that it was UNAMIR’s intention to take action within the next 36 hours. He recommended that the informant be given protection and be evacuated, and – on this particular point, but not on the previous one – requested guidance from the Secretariat as to how to proceed. Finally, Dallaire admitted to having certain reservations about the reliability of the informant and said that the possibility of a trap was not fully excluded. As has often been quoted, the telegram nonetheless ended with a call for action: “Peux ce que veux. Allons-y.”
This telegram was addressed to Baril, but it was shared with other senior officials within DPKO, including Under-Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Assistant-Secretary-General Iqbal Riza and Mr Hedi Annabi, at the time head of the Africa Section in DPKO. Both Under Secretaries-General for Political Affairs at the time, Mr Marrack Goulding and Jonah have told the Inquiry that they did not see the telegram when it arrived. The Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG) routinely received all cables at the time. This cable was in the EOSG archives, although the Secretary-General has stated that he was not shown a copy until later.
The first response from Headquarters to UNAMIR was sent on the evening of 10 January New York time. It was a cable from Annan (signed off by Riza) to Booh Booh, marked “Immediate” and “Only”. Headquarters wrote that the information in Dallaire’s cable was cause for concern but there were certain inconsistencies. Annan continued “We must handle this information with caution.” The final paragraph requested Booh Booh’s considered assessment and recommendations. It ended “No reconnaissance or other action, including response to request for protection, should be taken by UNAMIR until clear guidance is received from Headquarters.”
Booh Booh replied to Annan in a cable also dated 11 January. The Special Representative described a meeting which Dallaire and Booh Booh’s political adviser, Dr Abdul Kabia, had had with the Prime Minister Designate, who expressed “total, repeat total, confidence in the veracity and true ambitions of the informant.” Booh Booh emphasized that the informant only had 24 to 48 hours before he had to distribute the arms, and requested guidance on how to handle the situation, including the request for protection for the informant. The final paragraph of the telegram, para. 7, stated that Dallaire was “prepared to pursue the operation in accordance with military doctrine with reconnaissance, rehearsal and implementation using overwhelming force. Should at any time during reconnaissance, planning or preparation, any sign of a possible contravening or possibility of an undue risky scenario present itself, the operation will be called off.”
Later the same day, Headquarters replied. Again, the cable was from Annan, signed by Riza, addressed this time to both Booh Booh and Dallaire. Headquarters stated that they could not agree to the operation contemplated in para. 7 of the cable from Booh Booh, as it in their view clearly went beyond the mandate entrusted to UNAMIR under resolution 872 (1993). Provided UNAMIR felt the informant was absolutely reliable, Booh Booh and Dallaire instead were instructed to request an urgent meeting with President Habyarimana and inform him that they had received apparently reliable information concerning the activities of the Interahamwe which represented a clear threat to the peace process. Habyarimana was to be informed that the activities included the training and deployment of subversive groups in Kigali as well as the storage and distribution of weapons to those groups. These activities constituted a clear violation of Arusha agreement and of the Kigali Weapons Secure Area (KWSA). Booh Booh and Dallaire were told to assume that the President was not aware of these activities, but were to insist that he immediately look into it, take necessary action, and ensure that the subversive activities were stopped. The President was to be told to inform UNAMIR within 48 hours of the steps he had taken, including the recovery of arms. If any violence occurred in Kigali, the information on the militia would have to be brought to the attention of the Security Council, investigate responsibility and make recommendations to the Council.
Before the meeting with the President, the Ambassadors of Belgium, France and the United States were to be informed and asked to make similar démarches.
The cable from Headquarters ended with the pointed statement that “the overriding consideration is the need to avoid entering into a course of action that might lead to the use of force and unanticipated repercussions.”
On 13 January, Booh Booh sent a reply to Annan, outlining what had been done pursuant to the instructions from Headquarters. The code cable was entitled “Initiatives taken relating to the latest security information.” Booh Booh informed Headquarters that he and Dallaire had met with the heads of mission of Belgium, France and the United States, who had expressed serious concern and had said they would consult with their capitals. Following that meeting, Booh Booh and Dallaire met with the President and conveyed the message as instructed. Booh Booh informed the Secretariat that the President had appeared alarmed by the tone of the démarche. He had denied knowledge of the activities of the militia and had promised to investigate.
Booh Booh and Dallaire had also raised the harrassment of UNAMIR civilian personnel and the violence against Rwandese (“all belonging to one ethnic group”) during the demonstrations on 8 January. President Habyarimana replied that he was unaware of the demonstrations but apologized for any inappropriate behaviour directed against UNAMIR personnel. He suggested both issues be raised with the bureau of his party, the Mouvement Révolutionnaire National pour le Développement (MRND).
This Booh Booh and Dallaire did later the same day, in a meeting with the President and National Secretary of the MRND, who both denied that the MRND or its militia were involved in the alleged activities. They were urged to investigate and to report back to UNAMIR as early as possible.
In a final comment, Booh Booh wrote that the initial feedback from the meetings indicated that both the President and the MRND officials were bewildered by the specificity of the information at their disposal. “The President of the MRND seemed unnerved and is reported to have subsequently ordered an accelerated distribution of weapons. My [Booh Booh’s] assessment of the situation is that the initiative to confront the accused parties with the information was a good one and may force them to decide on alternative ways of jeopardizing the peace process, especially in the Kigali area.”
A cable from Booh Booh to Annan and Jonah on 2 February, by which time the security situation had deteriorated significantly, made clear that the President never did inform UNAMIR of any follow-up to the information he was confronted with on 12 January.
Political deadlock and a worsening of the security situation
On 14 January, notes in the files of the Secretary-General show that he spoke both to Booh Booh and to Habyarimana. According to the archives, Booh Booh informed the Secretary-General that the two parties in Rwanda had so far failed to respect the agreement to establish a Government and that he was doing his best to find a solution in cooperation with the ambassadors of France, Belgium, the United States and Tanzania. The Secretary-General asked Booh Booh to meet the President and convey his concern at the delay in solving the situation. Booh Booh was told to explain that each day of delay might cost the United Nations many thousands of dollars, since the troops would be obliged to remain available for a long time. Thus, delays also caused problems with the Security Council.
At 19.30 on 14 January, President Habyarimana telephoned the Secretary-General. Habyarimana said that he had received the four Ambassadors (presumably the same as were mentioned by Booh Booh above) and needed both their and Booh Booh’s support so that he could impose a solution on the parties. The note for the file continues, “The Secretary-General assured the President that the United Nations trusted his leadership and asked him to do his best to resolve the problem. The Secretary-General gave the argument that unless there was progress the United Nations would be obliged to withdraw its presence. The President said that this would be a disaster for his country. He promised that he would do his best and that he would meet the Ambassadors again the following week.”
The concerns with regard to the distribution of arms, the activities of the militia, killings and increased ethnic tension continued throughout the early months of 1994. In a cable to Annan and Jonah on 2 February, Booh Booh wrote that the security situation was deteriorating on a daily basis. Booh Booh reported “increasingly violent demonstrations, nightly grenade attacks, assassination attempts, political and ethnic killings, and we are receiving more and more reliable and confirmed information that the armed militias of the parties are stockpiling and may possibly be preparing to distribute arms to their supporters.” He continued, “If this distribution takes place, it will worsen the security situation even further and create a significant danger to the safety and security of UN military and civilian personnel and the population at large.” Furthermore Booh Booh cited indications that the RGF was preparing for a conflict, stockpiling ammunition and attempting to reinforce positions in Kigali. UNAMIR painted a dire scenario: that “should the present Kigali defensive concentration posture of UNAMIR be maintained, the security situation will deteriorate even further. We can expect more frequent and more violent demonstrations, more grenade and armed attacks on ethnic and political groups, more assassinations and quite possibly outright attacks on UNAMIR installations and personnel, as was done on the home of the SRSG.” The conclusion drawn was that determined and selective deterrent operations were necessary, targetting confirmed arms caches and individuals known to have illegal weapons in their possession. Booh Booh wrote that these operations would be conducted not only to fulfil the requirements of their mandate in recovering illegal arms, but they would also ultimately ensure the safety and continued operation of United Nations personnel and facilities in Rwanda. UNAMIR sought the guidance and approval of Headquarters to commence deterrent operations.
During the month of February, Booh Booh continued to focus on edging the parties nearer an agreement on the establishment of the transitional institutions. Meanwhile, the mission continued to express concern about the worsening security situation, i.a. at a meeting with Belgium, France, Germany and the United States on 15 February.
On 14 February (the United Nations Blue Book on Rwanda dates it 14 March), the Belgian Foreign Minister, Mr Willy Claes, wrote a letter to the Secretary-General, arguing in favour of a stronger mandate for UNAMIR. Unfortunately, this proposal does not appear to have been given serious attention within the Secretariat or among other interested countries.
Dallaire continued to press for permission to take a more active role in deterrent operations against arms caches in the KWSA. The Secretariat, however, maintained the interpretation of the mandate which was evident in their replies to Dallaire’s cable, insisting that UNAMIR could only support the efforts of the gendarmerie. On 15 February, Dallaire referred to a previous recommendation that deterrent actions “supported by” the gendarmerie and army be initiated, pointing out that neither of these Rwandese institutions had the resources to conduct cordon and search operations themselves. He promised that Headquarters would be informed of the details of the operations so that it could be confirmed that they were in accordance with directions from the Secretariat and the mandate. The response from Headquarters was to question the concept proposed by Dallaire and to ask for clarifications. Annan emphasized that public security was the responsibility of the authorities and must remain so. “As you know, resolution 792 [sic] (1993) only authorized UNAMIR to ‘contribute to the security of the city of Kigali, i.a., within a weapons secure area established by repeat by the parties’.”
In a presidential statement on 17 February (S/PRST/1994/8), the Security Council expressed deep concern about the deterioration in the security situation, particularly in Kigali, and reminded parties of their obligation to respect the KWSA. The statement was handed over to President Habyarimana on 19 February. On 21 and 22 February, Mr Félicien Gatabazi, Minister of Public Works and Secretary-General of the Parti social démocrate (PSD) and Mr Martin Buchnyana, the President of the Coalition pour la défense de la république (CDR), were killed. Tensions rose in Kigali and the rest of Rwanda. In a report on 23 February, Dallaire wrote that information regarding weapons distribution, death squad target lists, planning of civil unrest and demonstrations abounded. “Time does seem to be running out for political discussions, as any spark on the security side could have catastrophic consequences.”
The following day, Booh Booh wrote that reports had been circulating that the previous days’ violence might have been ethnically motivated and directed against the Tutsi minority. He continued to say that in view of Rwanda’s long and tragic history of ethnic conflict, the possibility of ethnically motivated incidents is a constant threat, especially during moments of tension, fear and confusion.” UNAMIR, however, did not have conclusive or compelling evidence that the events of the past days were either ethnically motivated or provoked ethnic consequences or reactions.” Equally, according to the record of a meeting with the Ambassadors of Belgium, France and the United States on 2 March, Dallaire discounted suggestions that the recent killings in Kigali might have been ethnically motivated.
On 27 February, Dallaire informed the Secretariat of his intention to redeploy two companies, a small command group and a logistics component of the Ghanaian contingent in the DMZ to Kigali to take over guard tasks there as a temporary measure until the situation in the capital stabilized. Dallaire emphasized the urgency of the operation, stating that “the present serious increase in terrorist actions combined with the serious decrease in gendarmerie and UNAMIR reaction capability could lead to an end to the peace process.”
On 1 March, the Secretary-General received a special envoy of the President of Rwanda, the Minister for Transport and Communications, Mr André Ntagerura. The Secretary-General focussed entirely on the blockage of the political process, threatening to withdraw UNAMIR unless progress was achieved. The Secretary-General emphasized the competing priorities of the United Nations, and said that UNAMIR could be withdrawn within 15 days unless progress was forthcoming.
The Secretary-General presented a progress report on UNAMIR to the Security Council on 30 March (S/1994/360), which described the political stalemate, the deterioration of the security situation and the humanitarian situation in Rwanda. The Secretary-General recommended extending UNAMIR’s mandate by six months. In fact, key members of the Security Council were reluctant to accept such a long mandate extension. The decision taken in resolution 909 (1994) of 5 April, which was adopted unanimously, extended the mandate by slightly less than four months, with the possibility of a review after six weeks if progress continued to be lacking. The Council made continued support for the mission, including the acceptance of a proposal by the Secretary-General to increase the number of civilian police, contingent on implementation of the Arusha Peace Agreement.
On 6 April 1994, President Habyarimana and the President of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira, flew back from a subregional summit under the auspices of the facilitator of the Arusha process, Tanzania’s President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, According to Tanzanian officials, the talks in Dar es Salaam had been successful and President Habyarimana had committed himself to the implementation of the Arusha Agreement. The Inquiry’s interlocutors in Tanzania stated that they had encouraged Habyarimana to delay his return to Rwanda until the following day, but he had insisted on returning the same evening. He also invited the President of Burundi to accompany him on his plane.
According to UNAMIR’s report to Headquarters, at approximately 20.30, the plane was shot down as it was coming in to land in Kigali. The plane exploded and everyone on board was killed. By 21.18, the Presidential Guard had set up the first of many roadblocks. Within hours, further road-blocks were set up by the Presidential Guards, the Interahamwe, sometimes members of the Rwandan Army, and the gendarmerie. UNAMIR was placed on red alert at about 21.30.
According to UNAMIR’s records, at 22.10, Dallaire briefed Riza by phone about the developments. During the night, Dallaire attended a meeting at the RGF Headquarters together with Colonel Luc Marchal, the Kigali Sector commander of UNAMIR. The meeting was chaired by the Chief of Staff of the Gendarmerie, Major-General Augustin Ndindilyamana, with the participation of among others Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, who Dallaire described as being in “the position of authority.” According to Dallaire, Bagosora stated at the meeting that what had occurred was not a coup d’etat, that the officers present were establishing interim control. A warning sign in the line taken by Bagosora and the others were their dismissal of the authority of the Prime Minister, Mrs Agathe Uwilingiyimana, and their refusal to allow her to speak to the nation by radio as both Dallaire and Booh Booh insisted. The meeting at the RGF Headquarters was followed by a meeting at Booh Booh’s residence with Bagosora and the RGF’s liaison officer.
Dallaire has subsequently stated that he gave Marchal the following brief: “assisting in the maintenance of the security situation in Kigali with the Gendarmerie in order to try to maintain a state of calm and to avoid any other KWSA violations.” Dallaire wrote that he confirmed “the need for a patrol to secure the crash site, for an enhancement of the security at PM Agathe’s house and to escort her to the radio station, if and when the Force Commander could assist in getting the stations to allow her to address the nation.”
Efforts by UNAMIR to reach the crash site were blocked, with the patrol which had been sent to investigate it being stopped, disarmed and held at the airport during the early hours of 7 April. At 02.45, Dallaire reported that the head of the French military mission and another officer arrived and stated that they had directions from Paris to ensure a qualified investigation of the crash, which Dallaire assured them would take place. The French representatives offered the use of a military technical team present in Bangui, Central African Republic.
After the crash, UNAMIR received a number of calls from ministers and other politicians asking for UNAMIR’s protection. Early in the morning of 7 April, the number of guards at the Prime Minister’s home was increased. A group of Belgian soldiers led by Lt Lotin were dispatched from the airport to the Prime Minister’s residence after 02.00 (03.00 according to the Board of Inquiry set up by UNAMIR), arriving at the Prime Minister’s residence about three hours later. According to Belgian sources, at 06.55 (07.15 according to Board of Inquiry), Lt Lotin informed his contingent that he was surrounded by about 20 Rwandan soldiers armed with guns and grenades, and that members of the presidential guard were requiring the Belgians to lay down their arms. His commander had told him not to do this.
During the morning the Prime Minister fled over the wall from her residence and sought refuge at the United Nations Volunteer (UNV) compound in Kigali. According to an eyewitness account by a UNV who was present, the Prime Minister, her husband and five children all arrived in the compound between 7.30 and 08.00 (somewhat later according to UNAMIR’s report to Headquarters). The Prime Minister took refuge in a different house from her family. The UNVs informed Mr. Le Moal, the acting designated security official, at about 08.30. According to Dallaire’s report to Headquarters, he called Riza at 09.20 to inform him that UNAMIR might have to use force to save the Prime Minister. Riza confirmed the rules of engagement: that UNAMIR was not to fire until fired upon. An armed escort which had been sent to rescue the Prime Minister was blocked on the way.
Again according to the eyewitness account, at about 10.00, Rwandan soldiers entered into the UNV compound, while the UNVs were on the phone to the designated official, threatened the UNVs and stating that they were only seeking one person. After searching the compound, the soldiers eventually found the Prime Minister, who was shot at the back of the compound.
Dallaire arrived at the compound at about 12.30 according to the UNV report, and promised to return with armed vehicles to evacuate the UNVs. In fact, it was only after 17.15, that the UNVs were finally evacuated to the Mille Collines Hotel by a convoy organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) designated official.
The tragic killing of the Belgian peacekeepers took place against a backdrop of an escalated confrontation with Rwandan soldiers outside the Prime Minister’s house. Several times that morning, the soldiers guarding the Prime Minister were told by the Rwandese soldiers surrounding them to surrender their arms. According to Belgian records, at 08.49, Lt Lotin was told by his commander, Lt Col Dewez, that his group should not let themselves be disarmed, and to negotiate, to which Lotin replied that it was too late because four men were already disarmed. Dewez then stated that Lotin was authorized to surrender arms if he felt it necessary. The UNAMIR troops were subsequently taken by minibus to Camp Kigali. Lotin borrowed the Motorola of the Togolese military observer at the camp in order to inform Dewez about the situation, also stating that his men risked being lynched. Dewez, having first asked whether Lotin was not exaggerating, then informed his Sector Command and asked that the Rwandan army or Rutbat (the Bangladeshi battalion) intervene. Meanwhile, however, in Camp Kigali, the United Nations peacekeepers were badly beaten, and later, after the Ghanaian peacekeepers and the Togolese had been led away, the Belgian soldiers were brutally killed.
Dallaire stated in his submission to the Belgian senate inquiry that, while being driven past Camp Kigali with a Rwandan major as driver, he “caught a brief glimpse of what I thought were a couple of soldiers in Belgian uniforms on the ground in the Camp, approximately 60 metres. I did not know whether they were dead or injured, however I remember the shock of realizing that we now had taken casualties.” Dallaire said he ordered the RGF officer to stop the car, but that the Rwandan driver refused. Having arrived at the Military School, Dallaire spoke to the Togolese observer, who he said told him about Belgian soldiers being held at Camp Kigali and being abused or beaten up.
Dallaire stated in the same submission that he did not believe that there was a military option to intervene, and that he himself was prevented from going to Camp Kigali, by the driver and then later on by Bagosora, with whom the situation of the Belgian peacekeepers was raised at about 14.00, when they met at the Ministry for Defence. Dallaire stated that, at about 21.00, he was told that the Belgians had been killed. Dallaire then proceeded to Kigali hospital morgue, where the bodies of the Belgian soldiers had been left.
Dallaire informed the Belgian Senate commission that an armed operation to rescue the Belgians was not feasible because of the high risk of casualties to those who would intervene, and the high potential for failure of the operation. Describing the shortcomings and lack of resources of UNAMIR, Dallaire did not believe he had forces capable of conducting an intervention in favour of the Belgians: “The UNAMIR mission was a peacekeeping operation. It was not equipped, trained or staffed to conduct intervention operations.”
In the morning of 7 April, members of the Presidential Guard also attacked the house of the Vice-President of the Liberal Party (PL) and Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Mr Landoald Ndasingwa. Ndasingwa was one of the opposition politicians whom UNAMIR had been guarding for months, and had been the subject of propaganda and threats on the Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM). According to testimony of the family and an employee of the Ndasingwa family, at about 06.30, one of the Rwandan policemen guarding the house was told by police guarding the nearby house of the President of the Constitutional Court, Mr Joseph Kavaruganda, that the Presidential Guards were on its way to come and kill Ndasingwa. Upon hearing this, Ndasingwa reportedly asked the RGF guards outside his house to seek reinforcements. Having done so, however, the family stated that it was discovered that the Ghanaian UNAMIR troops guarding Ndasingwa had fled into a neighbouring property without any prior explanation to Ndasingwa. About 30 – 40 minutes later, according to a witness, about 20 members of the Presidential Guards came to the house, armed with light weapons. After searching the house, they shot Mr Ndasingwa, his wife, mother and two children.
The same morning, Judge Kavaruganda was abducted from his home. Kavaruganda also had UNAMIR guards. When Rwandese soldiers came to his house asking him to accompany them, Judge Kavaruganda, fearing for his life, refused, and locked himself in the house with his wife and two of his children. According to Mrs Kavaruganda, the United Nations troops outside stood talking to the Rwandese, with their weapons lying on a table beside them. Inside the house, meanwhile, Judge Kavaruganda made various phone calls to the Belgian, Bangladeshi and Ghanaian contingents of UNAMIR, asking for help. Although he received assurances that reinforcements would arrive, none did. Eventually, the Rwandese soldiers outside broke down the front door. Judge Kavaruganda was taken away, his family beaten and mistreated. According to Mrs Kavaruganda, the United Nations guards did nothing to prevent the abduction or the beatings.
During the course of its mandate, UNAMIR received information about threats against a number of politicians and prominent civil servants. In the cases of Ndasingwa and Kavaruganda, an internal memorandum from the mission’s military intelligence officer to Dallaire dated 17 February 1994 contained specific information that a plot existed by named members of the so-called “Death Esquadron” to kill them. According to Dallaire, after the 17 February, in addition to the personal armed bodyguards of the politicians plus the armed UNAMIR vehicle escorts, a section of at least 5 armed UNAMIR soldiers was provided at the residence of each politician.
Another politician with a UNAMIR guard was the former Foreign Minister during the Arusha negotiations, Mr Boniface Ngulinzira. According to his wife, Mrs Florida Ngulinzira, at about 07.30, the UN guards outside his house informed Ngulinzira that Ndasingwa had been killed, and that they believed that political massacres had begun. A phone call from the Prime Minister Designate, Mr Faustin Twagiramungu, confirmed that elements of the Presidential Guards were seeking out politicians. According to Mrs Ngulinzira, the United Nations soldiers at that point asked the family to get into a truck, where they were covered by a tarpaulin, and driven away from their house. Upon arrival they discovered that they had been taken to the Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO) at Kicukiro, a suburb of Kigali.
ETO was a site where many civilians sought the protection of the Belgian UNAMIR troops stationed there. The Inquiry met with a number of survivors from the tragic events at ETO, which in Rwanda have gained symbolic importance as an example of the failings of the United Nations Mission. About 2,000 people had sought refuge at ETO, believing that the UNAMIR troops would be able to protect them. There were members of the Interahamwe and Rwandan soldiers outside the school complex. On 11 April, after the expatriates in ETO had been evacuated by French troops, the Belgian contingent at ETO left the school, leaving behind men, women and children, many of whom were massacred by the waiting soldiers and militia.
Mr Ngulinzira asked the French troops to evacuate him from ETO but was refused. In massacres in the aftermath of the departure of the UNAMIR troops, he was killed.
Within a couple of days of the crash of the Presidential plane, national evacuation operations were mounted by Belgium, France, Italy and the United States. The operations were undertaken with the aim of evacuating expatriates. The Force Commander informed Headquarters of the arrival of the first three French aircraft during the early hours of the morning of 8 April. In a cable dated 9 April from Annan (Riza), Dallaire was requested to “cooperate with both the French and Belgian commanders to facilitate the evacuation of their nationals, and other foreign nationals requesting evacuation. You may exchange liaison officers for this purpose. You should make every effort not to compromise your impartiality or to act beyond your mandate but may exercise your discretion to do should this be essential for the evacuation of foreign nationals. This should not, repeat not, extend to participating in possible combat, except in self-defence.”
The Secretary-General met the Foreign Minister of Belgium, Mr Willy Claes, in Bonn on 12 April. In the minutes of the United Nations from the conversation, Claes’ message to the United Nations was described as follows: “The requirements to pursue a peacekeeping operation in Rwanda were no longer met, the Arusha peace plan was dead, and there were not means for a dialogue between the parties; consequently, the UN should suspend UNAMIR.” Claes said he had information that the Ghanaian contingent had fled, leaving UNAMIR with only 1,500 troops (which was not correct). He continued, saying that “a withdrawal of UNAMIR could be seen as exacerbating the risk of an all-out civil war. However, UNAMIR had been unable to stop the killings until now and 20,000 had died despite its presence.” In response to the Secretary-General’s comment that he had sent a letter to the Security Council, asking for more troops and a change of the mandate for UNAMIR, and that he did not think that the Council would accept a withdrawal of UNAMIR, Claes stated that Belgium had to make a choice and had decided to withdraw its units from Rwanda. It preferred the withdrawal to be collective effort of UNAMIR, and would not like to withdraw alone.
According to the minutes of the meeting in the archives of the United Nations, Claes also stated that Belgium would be prepared to leave its weapons and equipment behind if UNAMIR were to stay.
The Secretary-General informed the Security Council about the Belgian position in a letter on 13 April. The letter stated that it would be extremely difficult for UNAMIR to carry out its tasks effectively. The continued discharge by UNAMIR of its mandate would “become untenable” unless the Belgian contingent was replaced by an equally well equipped contingent or unless Belgium reconsidered its decision. On the same day the Belgian Permanent Representative to the United Nations wrote directly to the Council. After a graphic description of the seriousness of the situation, speaking of “widespread massacres” and “chaos,” the Permanent Representative argued that since the implementation of the Arusha Peace Agreement was seriously jeopardized, the entire UNAMIR operation should be suspended. It is the understanding of the Inquiry that in addition to this and subsequent letters to the Council, the Belgian Government conducted a campaign of high level démarches with Council members in order to get the Council to withdraw UNAMIR.
DPKO elaborated two draft options, which were sent to UNAMIR for comments and to the Secretary-General in Madrid for approval on 13 April:
1) to keep UNAMIR, minus the Belgian contingent, for a period of three weeks . Several conditions were placed on applying this option, among them the existence of an effective cease-fire, each side accepting responsibility for law and order and the security of civilians in areas under their control, declaring Kigali airport a neutral territory and concentrating UNAMIR to the airport. Parties would be warned that unless agreement was not secured by 6 May, UNAMIR would be withdrawn.
2) to immediately reduce UNAMIR and maintain only a small political presence of the Special Representative, advisers, some military observers and a company of troops.
Dallaire responded expressing support for option 1. The Secretary-General’s Senior Political Adviser and Special Representative on the Council, Ambassador Chinmaya Gharekhan, informed Annan in a handwritten code cable on 14 April that the Secretary-General’s preference was the first option, and in the event that no progress was achieved, to proceed to the second option. Gharekhan emphasized, with reference to the letters to the Council of 8 and 13 April, that the Secretary-General “at no stage” had recommended or favoured withdrawal. The cable continued: “Abrupt, total withdrawal not feasible nor desirable or wise.”
In a separate cable on 14 April, Dallaire made clear the dire consequences of the Belgian withdrawal, which he described as a “terrible blow to the mission”.
On 13 April, Nigeria had presented a draft resolution in the Security Council on behalf of the Non-Aligned Caucus advocating a strengthening of UNAMIR. The next day, the Secretary-General’s options were presented orally to the Council by Riza. Both options were described as being predicated on a cease-fire. A combination of the two options was also mentioned as a possibility and as the Secretary-General’s own preferred option.
By the following day, the positions among the Members of the Council had been modified somewhat. Nigeria now argued in favour of option 1. According to the Secretariat’s record, the United States initially stated that if a decision were to be taken then, it would only accept a withdrawal of UNAMIR, as it believed there was no useful role for a peacekeeping operation in Rwanda under the prevailing circumstances.” The United Kingdom and Russia supported the second option, and in further consultations, the United States indicated it too could accept this alternative.
The statement by the President of the Council to the press on 15 April is telling of the atmosphere in the Council at the time. The statement makes no mention of the ongoing massacres. It states that the “immediate priority in Rwanda is the establishment of a cease-fire between the Government forces and the RPF.” The Council demanded that the parties agree to an immediate cease-fire and return to the negotiating table and reaffirmed the Arusha Peace Agreement as the only viable framework for the resolution of the Rwanda conflict.
Maintaining UNAMIR’s presence continued to be linked to the efforts to achieve a cease-fire. On 18 April, Annan (Riza) sent a cable where this issue was brought to a head. DPKO argued that since there did not seem to be any real prospects of a cease-fire in the coming days, it was their intention to report to the Council that a total withdrawal of UNAMIR needed to be envisaged rather than the two options which had been presented. Booh Booh and Dallaire were asked for their final assessment of achieving a cease-fire.
Dallaire responded on 19 April arguing in favour of keeping a force of 250 as a minimum presence, and against a total withdrawal: “A wholesale withdrawal of UNAMIR would most certainly be interpreted as leaving the scene if not even deserting the sinking ship.” He also pointed to the risk of dangerous reactions against UNAMIR in the case of a withdrawal.
Dallaire painted the following picture of the dilemma facing the UN under the scenarios being discussed: “The consequences of a withdrawal by UNAMIR will definitely have an adverse affect [sic] on the morale of the civil population, especially the refugees, who will feel that we are deserting them. However, in actual fact, there is little that we are doing at the present time except providing security, some food and medicine and a presence. Humanitarian assistance has not really commenced. // The refugees at locations like Hotel Mille Collines, the Red Cross, St Michels Cathedral etc. in RGF territory are in danger of massacre, but have been in this danger without result so far for the last week even with UNAMIR on the ground.”
By 19 April, the Secretariat’s line had changed significantly: the draft of a report by the Secretary-General to the Security Council which had been prepared now included three options: to strengthen UNAMIR, to reduce its strength or to withdraw completely. The cable with which the draft was sent to Kigali states that “the option of strengthening UNAMIR was decided upon in the evening here leading to our belated request to you to hold up the movement of personnel scheduled for departure tomorrow.”
Booh Booh on 20 April expressed full support for what had become option 1, the reinforcement of the mandate and strength of UNAMIR, but also said he did i.a. “not have problems with amended option II.” Concerning the latter alternative, however, Booh Booh had reservations about the remaining component being headed by the Force Commander – both he and the Commander should stay in Kigali.
On the same day, as the Council was preparing to move ahead to a decision, the Ambassador of Nigeria, Mr Ibrahim A. Gambari, met with the Secretary-General. Gambari asked Boutros-Ghali to counter moves in the Security Council to withdraw UNAMIR. The Secretary-General, who said he felt as though he was “fighting alone”, pressed the Ambassador to encourage African Heads of State to rally behind his position and to write letters against a withdrawal.
On 21 April, the Council voted unanimously to reduce UNAMIR to about 270 and to change the mission’s mandate. The resolution stated that the Council was “appalled at the ensuing large-scale violence in Rwanda, which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children ”
In the informal consultations which preceded the adoption of resolution 912 (1994), a few Council members reportedly expressed disappointment that the report did not include a recommendation on the part of the Secretary-General (who has stated, however, that his spokesman orally expressed the Secretary-General’s preference for a strengthening of the mandate). Nigeria stated that the NAM Caucus had a preference for option 1, but could not support it because of the lack of political will. According to the Secretariat, the United Kingdom responded by stating that option 1 was not feasible because of the lesson drawn from Somalia that conditions on the ground could evolve rapidly and dangerously.
New proposals on the mandate of UNAMIR
By the end of April, however, the disastrous situation in Rwanda made the Secretary-General recommend a reversal of the decision to reduce the force level. Boutros-Ghali’s letter to the Security Council of 29 April (S/1994/518) provided an important shift in emphasis – from viewing the role of the United Nations as that of neutral mediator in a civil war to recognising the need to bring to an end the massacres against civilians, which had by then been going on for three weeks and were estimated to have killed some 200,000 people. The Secretary-General stated that the mandate contained in resolution 912 (1994) did not give UNAMIR the power to take effective action to halt the massacres. The Council was asked to reconsider its previous decisions and to consider “what action, including forceful action, it could take, or could authorize Member States to take in order to restore law and order.” In a biting final remark, the Secretary-General wrote that he was aware “that such action would require a commitment of human and material resources on a scale which Member States have so far proved reluctant to contemplate.”
The following day, the Security Council issued a Presidential Statement (S/PRST/1994/21). The Council did not at that stage respond to the substance of the Secretary General’s letter, and instead promised to do so at a later stage. Otherwise the statement can be noted as a small step in the direction of a clearer stand by the Council against the ongoing genocide. The Council pointed out that the killings of civilians had “especially” taken place in areas under the control of members or supporters of the interim Government of Rwanda (whose representative was still participating in the deliberations of the Council). The Council could still not agree on using the term genocide, but circumvented the issue by including an almost direct quote from the Genocide Convention in the text. Finally, the statement also included a reference to the possibility of an arms embargo being imposed.
Notes on the discussions within the Security Council in the days following the Secretary-General’s letter show a body divided on a number of issues: on whether an intervention should take place, and if so, how to describe the strength of the action (countries such as Brazil, China and the United Kingdom are reported to have argued against too strong an “interventionist” wording regarding the role of the United Nations), the possible role of regional actors, the question of the arms embargo. On 3 May, the United States gained some support for an idea to send a Security Council team to the region to seek information about the situation, an idea that the United Kingdom objected to, and which was not pursued.
According to the Secretariat’s notes, two days later, the Nigerian President of the Council put pressure on his colleagues to act, reportedly saying that the Council risked becoming the laughing stock of the world if it did not. He expressed concern about the “chicken and egg” situation which he felt had arisen between the Secretary-General and African countries, since the Secretary-General sought African action against the killing, while the African countries wanted more information about the size and cost of the planned force, as well as the logistical support that would be available, before making commitments. The French representative felt that the Council should focus on humanitarian assistance, with the idea of humanitarian corridors being one possibility.
The Council President suggested that the Council write to the Secretary-General asking him to submit contingency planning to the Council and a recommendation on the mandate of an expanded United Nations presence. At the suggestion of the United Kingdom, the request was not formalized but worded as a request for a non-paper. The following day, agreement was reached on a letter to the Secretary-General, which requested indicative contingency planning, but also – strangely – stated that the members of the Council did not expect any firm or definitive recommendations.
The draft concept of operations for a future UNAMIR mandate which was outlined in a cable from Booh Booh on 6 May was explicit about the situation of the civilian population: “The civil war has intensified and spread throughout the country and massacres of innocent civilians appear to be continuing, especially in the countryside /…/ The steadily worsening situation raises serious questions about the effectiveness and viability of UNAMIR’s revised mandate, UNAMIR neither has the power nor the resources to take effective action to end the large-scale killings of civilians and to help establish a reasonably secure environment, essential conditions for the resumption of dialogue which would facilitate efforts to conclude a cease-fire agreement and to put the cease-fire.” In this cable from UNAMIR the priority was clear: UNAMIR should first and foremost be enabled to stop the killings, and secondly continue efforts to reach a cease-fire. This is an important shift in relation to the priorities indicated in the early correspondence between Kigali and Headquarters, a change that came a month after the start of the killings.
The non-paper actually presented to the Council on 9 May was less explicit about the ongoing massacres, and certainly more vague regarding a role for UNAMIR in stopping the killing. Where UNAMIR’s above-mentioned draft concept of operations had stated that the mission should be empowered “to take effective and speedy measures to stop the killings of innocent civilians”, the final version of the non-paper said UNAMIR was to “ensure safe conditions for displaced and other persons in need, including refugees …”. The non-paper also explicitly stated that the revised mandate would not envisage enforcement actions, would depend primarily on deterrence to carry out its tasks and would resort to force only in self-defence. The non-paper stated that a force of 5,500, including five infantry battalions, would be a minimum viable force for a strengthened UNAMIR. The mission’s tasks were summarized as being “to provide support and ensure safety for displaced and other affected persons and for the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance.”
In a press statement about the non-paper on 12 May, the RPF found the minimum force level too large: a mission of the original size (2,500) was preferred. The RPF stated that the only areas in Rwanda where people might need United Nations protection were in the south-western areas under RGF control.
When the Council started discussing the non-paper on 11 May, the Secretariat reported to the Secretary-General that several members had expressed support for the concept in the non-paper. Without actually objecting to that concept, the United States highlighted a wish to explore the possibility of creating a “protective zone along the Rwandan border with an international force to provide security to populations”. The US representative stated that such a mission might require fewer troops and be less complex than some of the other proposals being discussed. However, the idea of protective zones around the borders drew criticisim from Dallaire in a cable dated 12 May.
On 13 May, the Secretary-General formalized his recommendations in a report to the Security Council, which outlined the phased deployment of UNAMIR II up to a strength of 5,500, emphasizing the need for haste in getting the troops into the field. The above-mentioned differences continued. The final day of consultations focussed largely on amendments presented by the United States to the draft resolution. The United States proposals contained i.a. an explicit reference to the need for the parties’ consent, the postponement of later phases of deployment pending further decisions in the Council and requirement that the Secretary-General return to the Council with a refined concept of operations, including among other elements the consent of the parties and available resources.
According to the Secretariat’s notes, a number of delegations questioned the advisability of seeking clear consent from the parties. France and New Zealand had difficulties with the concept of deploying only a small number of military observers and one infantry battalion and delaying the rest of the deployment, as proposed by the United States. After a number of hours of consultations, the Council was able to produce the draft which was subsequently adopted.
UNAMIR II established
The Council adopted resolution 918 (1994) on 17 May 1994. The resolution included a decision to increase the number of troops in UNAMIR, and imposed an arms embargo on Rwanda. Rwanda voted against the latter decision, a clear example of the problematic issue of principle raised by the Rwandan membership of the Council.
Following the adoption of the resolution, efforts concentrated on finding the necessary troops to fill the five battalion strong force authorized by the Council. The Secretariat held a number of meetings with potential troop contributors, Booh Booh travelled to key African countries to seek contributions to UNAMIR, and the Secretary-General contacted a number of African Heads of State himself and enlisted the help of the Secretary-General of the OAU in an effort to mobilise offers of troops. However, the response was meager. A few African countries signalled some willingness to contribute, provided they received financial and logistical assistance in order to do so. By 25 July, over two months after resolution 918 (1994) was adopted, UNAMIR still only had 550 troops, a tenth of the authorized strength. Thus the lack of political will to react firmly against the genocide when it began was compounded by a lack of commitment by the broader membership of the United Nations to provide the necessary troops in order to permit the United Nations to try to stop the killing.
The newly appointed High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr José Ayala Lasso, visited Rwanda on 11 – 12 May 1994. The High Commissioner visited Kigali and Byumba and spoke both to representatives of the so-called Interim Government and the RPF. His report to the Commission on Human Rights was published on 19 May 1994 (E/CN.4/S-3/3). While Ayala Lasso stated that more than 200,000 civilians had been killed and called for strong condemnation of those killings, the High Commissioner stopped at characterizing the situation as one where “extremely serious violations of human rights had taken place” and were continuing. His recommendations were directed at both parties. Ayala Lasso did not mention the word genocide other than in a reference to the Convention as one international human rights instrument to which Rwanda was a party. Ayala Lasso proposed the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Rwanda, assisted by human rights monitors.
In a further report based on the same trip, which was sent to the Security Council on 21 July 1994 (S/1994/867), Ayala Lasso pointed out that several hundreds of thousands had been killed. He cited evidence that suggested that killings by Government forces were planned and concerted, and mentioned incitement to violence and killings by Radio Rwanda and RTLM. At the same time, he mentioned reports of killings “by forces of either side of civilians” and summary executions by RPF forces, “in what was described as acts of revenge.”
The Secretary-General met on 16 May with Booh Booh and key Secretariat officials, including Annan and Goulding to discuss developments in Rwanda. Afterwards, the Secretary-General issued a press statement, which i.a. reaffirmed his support for Booh Booh, who had been facing accusations of partiality from the RPF for some time.
On 18 May, the Secretary-General wrote to a number of African Heads of State and Government, requesting troops for UNAMIR II. He informed the Secretary-General of the OAU of this in a letter dated the same day, part of a correspondence between the two Secretaries-General related to the role of the United Nations since the beginning of the genocide.
On 20 May, Annan forwarded a request from the Secretary-General to Booh Booh that he base himself in Nairobi for the following weeks and consult with governments in the region and to seek their support in the implementation of resolution 918 (1994).
In order to follow-up resolution 918 (1994), the Secretary-General also sent Riza and Baril to Rwanda, among other things to try to move the parties towards a cease-fire and to discuss the implementation of resolution 918 (1994). The special mission to the region took place between 22 and 27 May. In a report to the Security Council dated 31 May, the Secretary-General presented his conclusions based on that mission. The report includes a vivid description of the horrors of the weeks since the beginning of the genocide, referring to a “frenzy of massacres” and an estimate that between 250,000 and 500,000 had been killed. Significantly, the report stated that the massacres and killings had been systematic, and that there was “little doubt” that what had happened constituted genocide.
The report includes a retrospective reference to the information which had been available to the Secretariat regarding developments in Rwanda before the genocide and which had guided its analysis: Para. 11 states that “In this context, the Security Council should be made aware of certain events that, in retrospect, might have had implications regarding the massacres. Between December 1993 and March 1994, UNAMIR took note on several occasions of inflammatory broadcasts by Radio Mille Collines and suspicious movements by armed groups, apparently include [sic] the Interahamwe, and cautioned the provisional Government in both respects. UNAMIR also received evidence that arms were being brought into the country and protested to the provisional Government and also conveyed this information to the diplomatic community.” In what would seem to be a reference to the Dallaire cable of 11 January 1994, the report continued: “On one occasion the Force Commander requested Headquarters for permission to use force to recover a cache of arms and was instructed to insist that the Gendarmerie conduct the operation under UNAMIR supervision.”
The Secretary-General’s report outlined a plan for the three-phased deployment of UNAMIR II, whereby phases 1 and 2 were to be initiated immediately in a synchronized manner. The plan foresaw different scenarios for deployment, including a situation where cease-fire was not in place. The two primary tasks of UNAMIR II were described as (a) To attempt to assure the security of as many assemblies as possible of civilians who are under threat and (b) To provide security, as required, to humanitarian relief operations.
The report’s final observations were bitter: “The delay in reaction by the international community to the genocide in Rwanda has demonstrated graphically its extreme inadequacy to respond urgently with prompt and decisive action to humanitarian crises entwined with armed conflict. Having quickly reduced UNAMIR to a minimum presence on the ground, since its original mandate did not allow it to take action when the carnage started, the international community appears paralysed in reacting almost two months later even to the revised mandate established by the Security Council. We must all realize that, in this respect, we have failed in our response to the agony of Rwanda, and thus have acquiesced in the continued loss of human lives.”
The RPF wrote a letter to the Secretary-General dated 3 June, which responded positively to the reference to genocide in the Secretary-general’s latest report, and called on the Security Council to declare that the atrocities were a genocide. The letter also called on the Security Council to adopt a resolution endorsing the jamming or destruction of Radio Milles Collines. Furthermore, the RPF called on the Secretary-General and the Council to take measures to suspend Rwanda from the Council.
On 8 June, the Security Council adopted resolution 925 (1994), which endorsed the Secretary-General’s proposals on the deployment of UNAMIR under its expanded mandate and extended the mission’s mandate until 9 December 1994. The resolution also urged Member States to respond promptly to the Secretary-General’s request for resources, including logistical support capability for rapid deployment of additional forces. The draft had originally been presented by the United States. According to notes from the consultations, the original draft’s use of the word genocide was changed to “acts of genocide” as a compromise after China objected to use of the term genocide on its own.
In a letter dated 19 June to the Security Council (S/1994/728), the Secretary General outlined the results of the efforts to put in place UNAMIR II, which at that time still only had a total force of 503. The Secretary-General stated that the first phase of deployment of UNAMIR II in the best of circumstances would only be able to take place in the first week of July. Mentioning the ongoing killings, the Secretary-General went on to suggest that the Council consider the offer by France to conduct a multinational operation under Chapter VII “to assure the security and protection of displaced persons and civilians at risk in Rwanda.”
This offer by France, together with Senegal, was formally set out in a letter from the Permanent Representative of France to the President of the Security Council dated 20 June 1994. The operation is described as one aiming to “maintain a presence pending the arrival of the expanded UNAMIR /…/ The objectives assigned to that force would be the same ones assigned to UNAMIR by the Security Council, i.e. contributing to the security and protection of displaced persons, refugees and civilians in danger in Rwanda, by means, including the establishment and maintenance, where possible, of safe humanitarian areas.” France sought a resolution under Chapter VII “as a legal framework for their intervention.”
Also on that day, the Security Council adopted resolution 928 (1994) extending the mandate of UNOMUR for three months, and also deciding that the mission would be reduced during that period.
On 20 June, Dallaire sent a long cable to Headquarters outlining a number of potential issues of concern regarding the proposed Operation Turquoise, including the consequences for those troops within UNAMIR who were of the same nationality as contingents in the French-led force.
The Security Council held consultations on the French initiative on 20 – 22 June. France introduced a draft resolution on 20 June. The Secretary-General participated in informal consultations on 22 June. According to the United Nations notes from the consultations, the Secretary-General argued in favour of an urgent decision to authorize the French-led operation. Later that day, the Council adopted resolution 929 (1994), the vote resulting in 10 votes in favour and 5 abstentions (Brazil, China, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan).
On 1 July 1994, the Council adopted resolution 935 (1994), requesting the Secretary-General to establish an impartial Commission of Experts, which was to provide the Secretary-General with its conclusions “on the evidence of grave violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda, including the evidence of possible acts of genocide.”
Also on 1 July, the Permanent Representative of France informed the Secretary-General in a letter, which was forwarded to the Security Council in document S/1994/798, that fighting had intensified, and that the situation in the South West “could quickly become completely uncontrollable”. According to the French Ambassador, the situation required an immediate cease-fire. Halting the fighting was the only truly effective way to stabilize the humanitarian situation, and bring about a political settlement on the basis of the Arusha Agreement “from which those responsible for the massacres and, in particular, acts of genocide, must, of course, be excluded.” Without a cease-fire, France saw two alternative ways to act: to withdraw or to organize a safe humanitarian zone. The letter made it clear that France believed that the extablishment of such a zone was within the mandate already given by the Council, but wished nonetheless to have the support of the United Nations for the idea. The Council discussed the intention to create the zone in informal consultations on 6 July, where several delegations raised questions about the nature of the proposal. No formal reaction by the Council was given to the French letter.
On 14 July the Security Council issued a Presidential Statement (S/PRST/1994/34) which expressed alarm at the continued fighting, demanded an immediate cease-fire, urged the resumption of the political process within the framework of the Arusha Agreement, reaffirmed the humanitarian nature of the secure area in the south-west of Rwanda and demanded that “all concerned” respect this. Member States were called upon to contribute to ensure the deployment of the expanded UNAMIR II in the immediate future.
Goma, Zaire, was shelled on 17 July. That day, General Lafourcade, the Force Commander of Operation Turquoise, requested UNAMIR to convey the message to General Kagame that if the firing did not stop, France envisaged an intervention by force. In a previous contact with the Special Representative, Mr Shaharyar Khan, Major-General Paul Kagame had reportedly stated that the RPF was not responsible and that clear instructions were being sent to the forces in the region to avoid any shelling of Goma or adjacent Zairian territory.
On 17 July, the United Nations Rwanda Emergency Office Liaison in Goma reported that over a million Rwandese had crossed into Zaire. Concern was expressed that a further outflow might follow from the humanitarian protection zone under Operation Turquoise. This was the starting point of one of the most complicated and sensitive humanitarian emergencies of recent years – the huge exodus of Rwandan refugees into Zaire, whose camps were to become infiltrated by the Interahamwe and other forces behind the genocide. The massive relief effort that was put in place to support the camps in Zaire is still resented by those who survived the genocide within Rwanda.
On 18 July, the RPF had gained control over the whole of Rwanda except the humanitarian zone controlled by Operation Turquoise. The RPF declared a unilateral cease-fire. On 19 July, a Government of National Unity was sworn in in Kigali for a transitional period set at five years. Mr Pasteur Bizimungu was sworn in as President, Major-General Paul Kagame as Vice-President and Mr Faustin Twagiramungu as Prime Minister. About one hundred days after it began, the horrific genocide in Rwanda ended, leaving deep and bitter wounds behind.