Source: http://www.un.org/News/ossg/rwanda_report.htm
Accessed 16 May 2000

REPORT OF THE INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO THE ACTIONS OF THE UNITED NATIONS DURING THE 1994 GENOCIDE IN RWANDA

15 DECEMBER 1999

Part III

Part I  Part Ia  Part II  Part IV  Part V

Conclusions (Contd.)

8. Focus on achieving a cease-fire

9. Lack of analytical capacity

10. The lack of political will of Member States

11. Failure to protect political leaders

12. Failure to protect civilians

13. Failure to protect national staff

14. Flow of information

15. Organizational problems

16. National evacuations: international troops in different roles

17. Operation Turquoise

18. Rwanda as a member of the Security Council

19. Final observations

IV. Recommendations

8. Focus on achieving a cease-fire

After the President was killed and violence broke out, the focus of Booh Booh and Dallaire quickly became that of achieving a cease-fire. The reports from UNAMIR to the Secretariat emphasize this element: the negotiations with the so-called crisis committee and the RPF and concerns that the RPF would "break out" of the CND and the DMZ. Yet the genocide which began in Kigali and subsequently spread to the countryside had a different dynamic to that of a resumed conflict between two parties who had signed the Arusha Agreement. Given the warning signs, the nature of what was happening should have been recognized, and reported more clearly and at an earlier stage. This precise point was raised in the Security Council by Nigeria on 28 April, when the Nigerian Ambassador stated that too much attention was being paid to the cease-fire negotiations and too little to the massacres. The Inquiry finds it disturbing that records of meetings between members of the Secretariat, including the Secretary-General, with officials of the so-called Interim Government show a continued emphasis on a cease-fire, more than the moral outrage against the massacres, which was growing in the international community.

The persistent attempts to view the situation in Kigali after the death of the President as one where the cease-fire had broken down and therefore needed to be restored through negotiations, rather than one of genocide in addition to the fighting between the RGF and RPF, was a costly error of judgment. It was an error committed by the Secretariat, the leadership of UNAMIR and the Members of the Security Council. Several Council members have criticized the quality of the analysis provided to them by the Secretariat in this instance. For a number of the non-permanent members at the time, a key to realizing the genocidal perspective to the killings in Rwanda was information provided to them by the NGO community.

9. Lack of analytical capacity

A problem in the United Nations response to the situation in Rwanda was the weaknesses apparent in the capacity for political analysis, in particular within UNAMIR, but also at Headquarters. With respect to UNAMIR, a key problem identified by the Force Commander in an interview with the Inquiry was the weak political representation in the recconnaissance mission to Rwanda in August 1993 and the lack of real understanding the team had about the underlying political realities of the Rwandan peace process. Once UNAMIR was set up, there was a lack of capacity for intelligence analysis. At Headquarters there was not sufficient focus or institutional resources for early warning and risk analysis. Much could have been gained by a more active preventive policy aimed at identifying the risks for conflict or tension, including through an institutionalized cooperation with academics, NGOs and better coordination within different parts of the United Nations system dealing with Rwanda.

A key issue in the analysis of the flow of information is whether it should have been possible to predict a genocide in Rwanda. The Inquiry has received very different replies to this question, both from Rwandese and international actors whom it interviewed. As indicated above, early indications of the risk of genocide were contained in NGO and United Nations human rights reports of 1993. The Inquiry is of the view that these reports were not sufficiently taken into account in the planning for UNAMIR. UNAMIR was viewed as a traditional peacekeeping operation under Chapter VI, established at the request of the parties to a two-sided conflict to assist them in the implemention of a peace agreement. Despite warning signs during the Arusha process, in particular related to the lack of commitment by extremists within the President's party to the peace process and to power-sharing, very little if anything seems to have been done in terms of contingency planning for the eventuality that the peace agreement was threatened or challenged. UNAMIR was established without a fall-back position or a worst-case scenario. There were warning signs of the possibility of a genocide in Rwanda, and furthermore clear indications that mass killings were being planned and could take place in Rwanda in early 1994. That failure to formulate a determined response to these warnings is due in part to the lack of correct analysis, both in UNAMIR and within the Secretariat, but also by key Member States.

One of the main tasks of UNAMIR was to monitor the observance of the Arusha Agreement. The delays in this process which were evident already during the first weeks of UNAMIR's presence in Rwanda took place against a backdrop of a steadily worsening security situation. Reports from the field did refer to the rising number of killings, serious ethnic tension, militia activities and the import and distribution of arms. Although the description of these threats in cables to Headquarters seemed at times divorced from the usually separate analysis of the difficulties incurred in the political process, these worrying factors were reported to Headquarters, in increasingly alarming tones.

In his report to the Security Council of 30 December 1993 (S/26927), the Secretary-General mentioned the existence of "a well-armed and reportedly ruthless group" operating in the area of the DMZ "with a view to disrupting or even disrailing [sic] the peace process". After the United States requested more information regarding this group in the Council's consultations of the whole on 5 January 1994, the Special Representative and the Force Commander were asked to provide Headquarters with further details on this score. In a response dated 6 January, Dallaire described massacres on 17-18 and 30 November, in which 55 men, women and children were killed. Dallaire wrote that he did not have definitive proof of who was responsible for the massacres, but continued to say that the "manner in which they were conducted in their execution, in their coordination, in their cover-up, and in their political motives lead us to firmly believe that the perpetrators of these evil deeds were well-organized, well informed, well motivated and prepared to conduct premeditated murder. We have no reason to believe that such occurrences could not and will not be repeated again in any part of this country where arms are prolific and political and ethnic tensions are prevalent."

These are examples which, together with others cited in this report, such as the handling of the Dallaire cable, and the analysis of developments after the genocide began, show an institutional weakness in the analytical capacity of the United Nations. The responsibility for this lack of analytical capacity falls primarily on the Secretariat under the leadership of the Secretary-General.

10. The lack of political will of Member States

Another reason for the main failure of the international community in Rwanda was the lack of political will to give UNAMIR the personnel and materiel resources the mission needed. Even after the Security Council decided to act to try and stop the killing, and reversed its decision to reduce UNAMIR, the problems that the Secretariat had faced since UNAMIR's inception in getting contributions of troops from Member States persisted. This was the case throughout in May and June during the urgent attempts to set up UNAMIR II. The lack of will to send troops to Rwanda continued to be deplorably evident in the weeks following the decision by the Security Council to increase the strength of UNAMIR to 5,500. For weeks, the Secretariat tried to solicit troop contributions, to little avail. Although a few African countries did express a willingness to send troops, they did so with the proviso that they be provided with equipment and financed. By the time Operation Turquoise left Rwanda, UNAMIR only had the bare minimum number of troops to permit it to take over the areas which had been controlled by the French-led operation. The full contingent was only deployed several months later, by which time the situation on the ground had changed markedly. Recognition is due here to those troop contributing countries, in particular Ghana and Tunisia, which allowed their troops to remain throughout the terrible weeks of the genocide, despite the withdrawal of other contingents. In sum, while criticisms can be levelled at the mistakes and limitations of the capacity of UNAMIR's troops, one should not forget the responsibility of the great majority of United Nations Member States, which were not prepared to send any troops or materiel at all to Rwanda.

The political will of Member States to send troops to peacekeeping operations is of course a key to the United Nations capacity to react to conflict. The stand-by arrangements initiative is a welcome one in that it attempts to address the problem of the lack of available troops when missions are to be set up. Yet the standby arrangement system is equally dependent on the will of Member States to commit troops and other personnel in a particular instance.

A general point about the need for political will is that such will must be mobilised equally in response to conflicts across the globe. It has been stated repeatedly during the course of the interviews conducted by the Inquiry that the fact that Rwanda was not of strategic interest to third countries and that the international community exercised double standards when faced with the risk of a catastrophe there compared to action taken elsewhere.

11. Failure to protect political leaders

UNAMIR was tasked with the protection of a number of politicians who were of key importance to the implementation of the Arusha Agreement. Moderate and opposition politicians quickly became targets as violence started after the crash of the Presidential plane. Some of them were saved, among them the Prime Minister Designate, Mr Twagiramungu. A number of others, however, were killed by members of the Presidential Guards and elements of the Rwandese army. Among those murdered were the Prime Minister, Mrs Agathe Uwilingiyimana, the leader of the Liberal Party, Mr Landoald Ndasingwa and the former Foreign Minister Mr Boniface Ngulinzira. The President of the Constitutional Court, Mr Joseph Kavaruganda, was taken away by armed elements of the Rwandese army and was never seen again. In these cases, UNAMIR did not succeed in providing the protection these personalities required.

In the case of the Prime Minister, the troops protecting did not to accompany her when she fled across the wall to the UNV compound. As has been described above, the troops surrendered their arms and were taken by the RGF to Camp Kigali, where they were subsequently brutally murdered. According to the family of Ndasingwa, the guards outside his home fled when soldiers of the Presidential Guards arrived at the house. Mr Ndasingwa, his wife, children and mother were all shot. And the family of Kavaruganda said that the guards outside his home did nothing to stop Rwandan soldiers from taking him away, or from beating members of his family, who subsequently fled. Finally, in the case of Ngulinzira, his family reproaches UNAMIR that the United Nations guards protecting him took him and his family to ETO. He was killed in the massacres that followed the Belgian contingent's evacuation of the school.

There is a pattern to these events which shows a failure by UNAMIR troops to guarantee the protection to these political personalities that they had been assured and expected. It is regrettable that not more could be done to resist the attacks by the Presidential Guards and other extremist elements against these politicians. As mentioned above, the Rules of Engagement which governed the mission permitted the use of force in self-defence, as well as action to prevent crimes against humanity. On the other hand, it must be recognized that the extremist forces had had time to observe the strength of the UNAMIR guard posts and overwhelm them with larger force.

The tragic killing of the Belgian peacekeepers also shows a number of problems in UNAMIR's capacity to deal with a crisis situation. When there were reports that the peacekeepers guarding the Prime Minister were in trouble, sufficiently decisive action was not taken by UNAMIR to determine what had happened and to prevent the killings. The Force Commander stated that, passing by Camp Kigali and seeing Belgian peacekeepers on the ground, he was unable to get the RGF driver of his car to stop. The Sector Commander for Kigali said that he did not know about the death of the Belgian paratroopers until 22.00. Although the Force Commander was prevented from reaching the Belgian group at that point, it is a matter of concern that the communications between the different elements of UNAMIR did not seem to ensure a correct flow of information about the threat to the Belgians, and that no-one was able to investigate the fate of the paratroopers until after they were dead.

The failure in these instances seems to be attributable in some instances to a lack of direction from UNAMIR Headquarters, but also to the peacekeepers themselves, who by not resisting the threat to the persons they were protecting in some of the cases outlined above, as would have been covered by their Rules of Engagement, showed a lack of resolve to fulfil their mission.

12. Failure to protect civilians

The role of UNAMIR in the protection of civilians during the genocide is one of the most debated and painful issues of this period. Considerable efforts were made by members of UNAMIR, sometimes at risk to themselves, to provide protection to civilians at risk during the massacres. However, there do not seem to have been conscious and consistent orders down the chain of command on this issue. During the early days of the genocide, thousands of civilians congregated in places where UN troops were stationed, i.a., the Amahoro Stadium and the Ecole Technique at Kicukiro. And when UNAMIR later came to withdraw from areas under its protection, civilians were placed at risk. Tragically, there is evidence that in certain instances, the trust placed in UNAMIR by civilians left them in a situation of greater risk when the UN troops withdrew than they would have been otherwise.

According to the Force Commander and the Deputy Force Commander, the order to evacuate was not given by UNAMIR Headquarters. The order would seem to have been taken by the Belgian command within UNAMIR. There is no doubt that the decision to evacuate the school, leaving thousands of refugees behind at the mercy of the waiting forces of the Interahamwe, is one which has caused enormous pain to the Rwandan people, in particular the survivors of the genocide. The perception that the UN knowingly abandoned a group of civilians has damaged trust in the United Nations severely.

When the UNAMIR contingent at ETO left, there could not have been any doubt as to the risk of massacre which awaited the civilians who had taken refuge with them. Indeed, the Interahamwe and the RGF had for days been stationed outside the school. The manner in which the troops left, including attempts to pretend to the refugees that they were not in fact leaving, was disgraceful. If such a momentous decision as that to evacuate the ETO school was taken without orders from the Force Commander, that shows grave problems of command and control within UNAMIR.

The Inquiry notes that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda recently convicted Mr Georges Rutaganda of genocide and sentenced him to life imprisonment, i.a. for his role in the assault on ETO.

13. Failure to protect national staff

It is a tragic aspect of modern conflict that United Nations and associated as well as other humanitarian personnel are increasingly the targets of violence during armed conflict. The genocide in Rwanda took its toll among the personnel of the United Nations: fourteen peacekeepers and a number of local civilian staff were brutally killed. The efforts to strengthen the protection of United Nations and associated personnel since 1994 have been most encouraging, but more could still be done, not least in order to broaden the scope of the protection afforded by the United Nations convention on this subject.

The Inquiry met with several persons who were members of the national staff of the United Nations in Rwanda at the time of the genocide. When the international civilian staff of the United Nations were evacuated, national staff were left behind. There is considerable bitterness among the national staff at what is perceived as a double standard within the United Nations as to the safety of different groups of staff members. It was even alleged that United Nations staff members may have been at greater risk than others as a result of their employment with the organisation. The United Nations regulations at the time precluded the evacuation of national staff. While the decisions taken at the time may have been in conformity with United Nations regulations, there can be no doubt of the damage caused by these rules to the trust between members of staff. The Inquiry feels that the subsequent change in staff regulations permitting the relocation within the country of national staff is a positive step, but also feels that it is necessary to look actively at the possibility of providing for evacuation in cases where relocation may be a less preferable option. It goes without saying that each staff member, international or national, must know precisely what protection can be expected in times of crisis. The mistaken perception among national staff members in Rwanda that the United Nations would and could protect them shows that a serious failure on the part of those in charge of security – in particular the Special Representative and the designated security official - to provide correct information to staff members.

14. Flow of information

The flow of information between the field and the Secretariat took place at several levels. Code cables were sent either from the Special Representative or the Force Commander, addressed to the Secretary-General, to the Heads of Department concerned, mainly Annan as head of DPKO and Jonah or Goulding, as heads of DPA, or to Baril. Cables from Headquarters were normally signed either by the Head of Department, or in some cases by the Military Adviser, Chief of Staff of the Secretary-General or by his Special Representative to the Security Council. Cables from Annan were in practice often signed off by his deputy, Riza, who carried day-to-day responsibility for UNAMIR within DPKO. Code cables were at times sent with a restriction on distribution, labelled "only" for certain recipients. In addition to code cables, other correspondence was conducted by open fax. Written communication was regularly complemented by telephone conversations, on the substance of which there is little written record in the archives.

By the time of the Rwanda crisis, the Secretary-General had decided that he would be represented in the Security Council by a Special Representative. The Secretary-General himself rarely attended the consultations of the Security Council. Ambassador Gharekhan was appointed as Mr Boutros-Ghali's Special Representative on the Council. Gharekhan was tasked with briefing the Council on behalf of the Secretary-General on the full range of topics on the Council's agenda, often based on speaking notes prepared by the substantive departments concerned. These departments were normally not represented at the consultations of the whole. In addition to the material provided by the departments, Gharekhan informed the Inquiry that he regularly was in direct contact by telephone with the Special Representatives or the Force Commanders of missions on which he was about to brief the Council. While this procedure would have provided Gharekhan the opportunity for a direct exchange of views with the field, from an institutional point of view this procedure excluded those responsible for the daily substantive work on issues discussed in the Council. The lack of direct contact between the substantive departments concerned and the Security Council created a disconnect which had a negative effect on the quality of the information provided to the Security Council, and must have made the understanding of substantive officers in the Secretariat of the deliberations of the Council much more difficult. Representatives of several Members of the Security Council whom the Inquiry has interviewed have complained that the quality of information from the Secretariat was not good enough. It should also be said that more could have been done by those Member States with in-depth knowledge of the situation in Rwanda to share information with the Secretariat.

There were problems in the flow of information from the field to Headquarters. UNAMIR presented a series of deeply worrying reports which together amounted to considerable warnings that the situation in Rwanda could explode into ethnic violence. In sum, information was available - to UNAMIR; United Nations Headquarters and to key Governments - about a strategy and threat to exterminate Tutsis, recurrent ethnic and political killings or an organised nature, deathlists, persistent reports of import and distribution of weapons to the population and hate propaganda. That more was not done to follow-up on this information and respond to it at an early stage was a costly failure: by United Nations Headquarters and UNAMIR but also by the Governments which were kept informed by UNAMIR, in particular those of Belgium, France and the United States. The lack of determined action to deal with the Dallaire cable is only part of this wider picture of failed response to early warning. Also, the fact that the United Nations was in close contact with certain key governments about this information does not change the fact that it should consistently and in equal detail have been brought to the attention of the whole Security Council.

15. Organizational problems

Organizational problems existed both within UNAMIR and within Headquarters which affected the capacity of the United Nations to respond to the events in Rwanda.

Within UNAMIR, it is clear that there were problems in the relationship between Booh Booh and Dallaire. The difficulties were known to the Department heads in New York, who did not however intervene. The difficulties may in part be traced to the fact that the Force Commander arrived first in the mission area and was the person to set up UNAMIR to begin with. Much later on, when the genocide began, their respective roles do not seem to have been clear. UNAMIR seems to have suffered from a lack of political leadership on the part of the Special Representative, but also from problems with regard to the military leadership because of the multitude of tasks the Force Commander had to cover during those first chaotic days. The archives of the mission also show that internal cooperation was problematic in key areas, one example being the difficulties in the cooperation between Booh Booh and his office and the Chief Administrative Officer, Mr Hallqvist, who resigned after a few months in service.

The relationship between the Secretary-General and the Security Council is a unique feature of the Charter of the United Nations. The Secretary-General has the opportunity, but also the responsibility, to bring to the attention of the Council issues which require action. The Secretary-General can have a decisive influence on decision-making in the Council, and has the capacity to mobilize political will among the membership on key issues on the agenda. Boutros-Ghali was absent from New York during much of the key period of the genocide. The Inquiry understands that Secretaries-General cannot be present at every meeting of the Security Council. The archives show almost daily cables informing the Secretary-General of the unfolding events in Kigali and Headquarters related to Rwanda, and sometimes replies to Headquarters with comments by the Secretary-General. The Inquiry concludes that the Secretary-General was kept informed of key developments in Rwanda. However, the role of the Secretary-General in relation to the Council in true crisis situations such as that of the Rwandan genocide, is one which can only to a limited extent be performed by proxy. Without the opportunity of direct personal contacts between the Secretary-General and the Security Council as a whole, and with its members, the role of the Secretary-General in influencing Council decision-making cannot be as effective or powerful as if he were present.

16. National evacuations: international troops in different roles

The rapid deployment of the national contingents to evacuate expatriates from Kigali saved lives among the expatriate community. Nonetheless, the lack of coordination on the ground with the United Nations before the operations is a matter of concern. The leadership of UNAMIR, or of the Secretariat, should have been better informed about the evacuations being planned.

The rapidity of the response, whereby the French operation was dispatched within hours of the shooting down of the aircraft, also shows a disconnect in the analysis of the situation between these key Member States of the United Nations and UNAMIR. Immediately upon receipt of the information about the crash, France, Belgium, US and Italy evidently believed the situation to be so volatile as to warrant immediate evacuation of their nationals. During these first hours after the crash, UNAMIR was still struggling to identify the nature of what had happened, and to establish basic communication among its own units.

One particular element of concern to the Inquiry is the different roles played by Belgian troops during these crucial hours. The Belgian contingent was still the best equipped and strongest of UNAMIR. The arrival of Belgian national troops blurred the perception of the Kibat contingent. Dallaire also stated to the Inquiry that the Belgian troops within UNAMIR also began taking orders from, and sharing materiel, with the evacuation force. This undermined the capacity of UNAMIR to act in the early days of the genocide.

17. Operation Turquoise

The French-led mission named Operation Turquoise was a mission conducted with the authorisation of the Security Council although not under United Nations command. The Inquiry will limit its analysis of Operation Turquoise to those elements specifically relevant to its mandate: the role of the United Nations during the period until July 1994.

Views diverge as to the effectiveness of the operation in saving the lives of those at risk within the humanitarian zone. Many of Inquiry's interlocutors have credited Operation Turquoise with saving a number of lives in a situation where few other initiatives were being taken to do so, although concerns were also expressed about a number of difficult issues of principle, i.a. with respect to the Operation's relationship to the United Nations. The decision to authorize the operation was not a unanimous one, and considerable concerns were voiced about the mission by those five members of the Council which abstained.

Like the rapid deployment of national evacuation forces, the sudden availability of thousands of troops for Operation Turquoise, after DPKO had been attempting for over a month to find troops to expand UNAMIR II, exposed the varying levels of political will to commit personnel in Rwanda. The Inquiry finds it unfortunate that the resources committed by France and other countries to Operation Turquoise could not instead have been put at the disposal of UNAMIR II.

The Secretary-General personally intervened in support of an authorisation of Operation Turquoise. The Inquiry notes that the Force Commander had sent substantive analysis of the possible problems which the operation might cause UNAMIR. One such difficulty was the perceived imbalance between the mandate of UNAMIR, which remained a Chapter VI operation throughout, and the Chapter VII authorisation given to Turquoise. To have two operations present in the same conflict area with the authorization of the Security Council but with such diverging powers was problematic.

The overlap of troop contributing countries also caused problems for UNAMIR. Indeed, on 21 June, Dallaire decided to evacuate 42 peacekeepers from francophone African States, Congo, Senegal and Togo and to replace them with United Nations personnel from Nairobi, Kenya, because of the negative reactions by the RPF caused by their participation in Operation Turquoise.

During the course of Operation Turquoise, there was on some occasions direct confrontation, or the risk of such confrontation, between the force and the RPF. As has been mentioned above, UNAMIR was asked to convey messages between the two, a role which must be considered awkward to say the least.

18. Rwanda as a member of the Security Council

The fact that Rwanda, represented by the Habyarimana government, was a member of the Security Council from January 1994 was a problem in the Security Council's handling of the Rwanda issue. In effect, one of the parties to the Arusha Peace Agreement had full access to the discussions of the Council and had the opportunity to try to influence decision-making in the Council on its own behalf. That a party to a conflict on the agenda of the Council, which was the host country of a peacekeeping operation, later subject to an arms embargo imposed by the body of which it was a member, shows the damaging effect of Rwanda's membership on the Council.

The damage was evident in the actions of the Rwandan representatives on the Security Council during this period. Both Secretariat officials and representatives of Members of the Council at the time have told the Inquiry that the Rwandan presence hampered the quality of the information that the Secretariat felt it possible to provide to the Council and the nature of the discussion in that body.

19. Final observations

On 15 November, 1999, a few weeks before the presentation of this report, the Secretary-General published a report on the fall of Srebrenica (ref A/54/549). Clearly, some of the criticisms directed at the actions of the United Nations in that report and the lessons learned drawn from them are also relevant to the present analysis of the role of the United Nations in Rwanda.

One such point is that "a deliberate and systematic attempt to terrorize, expel or murder an entire people must be met decisively with all necessary means, and with the political will to carry the policy through to its logical conclusion" (§502). Faced in Rwanda with the risk of genocide, and later the systematic implementation of a genocide, the United Nations had an obligation to act which transcended traditional principles of peacekeeping. In effect, there can be no neutrality in the face of genocide, no impartiality in the face of a campaign to exterminate part of a population. While the presence of United Nations peacekeepers in Rwanda may have begun as a traditional peacekeeping operation to monitor the implementation of an existing peace agreement, the onslaught of the genocide should have led decision-makers in the United Nations – from the Secretary-General and the Security Council to Secretariat officials and the leadership of UNAMIR – to realize that the original mandate, and indeed the neutral mediating role of the United Nations, was no longer adequate and required a different, more assertive response, combined with the means necessary to take such action.

The Inquiry agrees with the Secretary-General that "[W]hen the international community makes a solemn promise to safeguard and protect innocent civilians from massacre, then it must be willing to back its promise with the necessary means."

(§ 504) The experience of the Rwandan genocide makes it necessary to add that the United Nations must be aware that its presence in conflict areas also raises among those same civilians an expectation of protection which must be borne in mind when analysing the means necessary to conduct an operation. Whether or not an obligation to protect civilians is explicit in the mandate of a peacekeeping operation, the Rwandan genocide shows that the United Nations must be prepared to respond to the perception and the expectation of protection created by its very presence.

In his report, the Secretary-General encouraged Member States to engage in a process of reflection to clarify and to improve the capacity of the United Nations to respond to various forms of conflict. Among the issues highlighted, he mentioned the gulf between mandate and means and an instititional ideology of impartiality even when confronted with attempted genocide. As is clear from the above, both of those issues formed part of the key failings of the UN in Rwanda. The Inquiry believes that the process of analysis and discussion suggested in the Srebrenica report should be undertaken promptly in order to address the mistakes of peacekeeping at the end of this century and to meet the challenges of the next one. The Inquiry hopes that the present report will add impetus to such a process.

There are institutional lessons to be learned from the Rwandan crisis with regard to the capacity and willingness of the United Nations to conduct peacekeeping operations. However, there are also lessons which need to be learned which relate specifically to the relationship between the United Nations and Rwanda.

The United Nations failed the people of Rwanda during the genocide in 1994. It is a failure for which the United Nations as an organization, but also its Member States, should have apologized more clearly, more frankly, and much earlier. The present report seeks to identify the scope and reasons of that failure. Based on the conclusions drawn about the problems in the response by the United Nations, the Inquiry has also formulated recommendations for the future. In so doing, the Inquiry hopes to provide a basis on which to build a better relationship between the Government and people of Rwanda on the one hand, and the United Nations on the other. This will require a true will for healing on both sides. The meetings which the Inquiry has held with both Rwandese and United Nations officials during the course of its work have shown that this will exists.

A renewed partnership will be necessary to deal with the challenges ahead. The aftermath of the genocide is still a reality - in the pain of those who lost loved ones, in the efforts to build reconciliation between Rwandans, in the challenges of bringing those responsible to justice, and in the continued problems of displacement as well as in the efforts to find ways to balance the needs and interests of those who survived the genocide within Rwanda and those returning from lives as refugees abroad. It is also still a reality in the continued existence of the Interahamwe as an armed force in the Great Lakes region, and in the continued instability in that area. The challenges of the future are ones where the United Nations can help Rwanda to rebuild and reconcile.

IV. Recommendations

  1. The Secretary-General should initiate an action plan to prevent genocide involving the whole UN system, and aiming to provide input to the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001.
  2. Renewed efforts should be made to improve the capacity of the UN in the field of peacekeeping, including the availability of resources: political momentum for action should be mobilized at the Millennium Summit and Assembly. In each peacekeeping operation it should be clear which Rules of Engagement apply.
  3. The United Nations – and in particular the Security Council and troop contributing countries – must be prepared to act to prevent acts of genocide or gross violations of human rights wherever they may take place. The political will to act should not be subject to different standards.
  4. The early warning capacity of the United Nations needs to be improved, through better cooperation with outside actors including NGOs and academics, as well as within the Secretariat.
  5. Efforts need to be made to improve the protection of civilians in conflict situations.
  6. Further improvements in the security of UN and associated personnel, including local staff, are necessary. Consideration should be given to changing existing rules to enable the evacuation of national staff from crisis areas.
  7. Cooperation between officials responsible for the security of different categories of staff in the field needs to be ensured.
  8. An effective flow of information needs to be ensured within the UN system.
  9. Further improvements should be made in the flow of information to the Security Council.
  10. The flow of information on human rights issues should be improved.
  11. National evacuation operations must be coordinated with UN missions on the ground.
  12. Further study should be given to the possibility to suspend participation of the representative of a Member State on the Security Council in exceptional circumstances such as the crisis in Rwanda.
  13. The international community should support efforts in Rwanda to rebuild the society after the genocide, paying particular attention to the need for reconstruction, reconciliation and respect for human rights, and bearing in mind the different needs of survivors, returning refugees and other groups affected by the genocide.
  14. The United Nations should acknowledge its part of the responsibility for not having done enough to prevent or stop the genocide in Rwanda. The Secretary-General should actively seek ways to launch a new beginning in the relationship between the United Nations and Rwanda.

The Inquiry is aware that a number of steps have been taken over the past few years to improve the capacity of the United Nations to respond to conflicts, and specifically to respond to some of the mistakes made in Rwanda. For instance, welcome changes have been made with regard to how the Secretariat briefs the Security Council. Internal structures have also been set up with the aim of improving the Secretariat's capacity for early warning and early action. However, there is still need for determined action if the United Nations is to be better prepared to prevent future catastrophes than it was to prevent and respond to the tragedy in Rwanda. The Inquiry makes the following recommendations for action.

1. An action plan to prevent genocide. The Inquiry recommends that the Secretary-General initiate a United Nations action plan to prevent genocide. More than five years after the genocide in Rwanda, the time has come to make the obligation under the Genocide Convention to "prevent and to punish" genocide a concrete reality in the daily work of the United Nations. The plan should aim to increase awareness and capacity system-wide to prevent and counteract genocide and other massive human rights violations, and should result in the implementation in practice of the lessons learned from the tragedies of Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Each part of the United Nations system, including Member States, should examine what active steps they should take to counteract such horrific crimes. The plan should include a follow-up mechanism to ensure that such steps are taken. An action plan to prevent genocide could provide concrete input to the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance scheduled for the year 2001.

As part of the plan, efforts at improving early warning and preventive capacity should include the prevention of genocide as a particular component. Specific training should be given to staff both at Headquarters, in agencies and programmes, and not least, personnel in field missions, to identify warning signs, analyse them, and translate warnings into appropriate action. Use should be made of the competence developed over the past years within the International Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. In the technical field, enhanced cooperation between Member States and the United Nations should aim to improve capacity to block hate media. The plan should establish networks of cooperation with humanitarian organisations, academic institutions and other non-governmental organisations with the aim of enhancing early warning and early response capacity. An intensified dialogue should be established between the Secretariat and the Security Council on the need for preventive action, and when necessary, on the need for enforcement measures to counteract genocide and other massive human rights violations in the future.

Planning for peacekeeping operations should whenever relevant include the prevention of genocide as a specific component. In situations where a peacekeeping operation might be confronted with the risk of massive killings or genocide it must be made clear in the mandate and Rules of Engagement of that operation that traditional neutrality cannot be applied in such situations, and the necessary resources be put at the disposal of the mission from the start.

Identify situations as genocide when warranted and assume the concomitant responsibility to act. States must be prepared to identify situations as genocide when the criteria for that crime are met, and to assume the responsibility to act that accompanies that definition. More attention needs to be given to preventing crises from escalating or erupting into genocide.

2. The Inquiry recommends that action be taken to improve the capacity of the United Nations to conduct peacekeeping operations, and in particular to ensure the sufficiently rapid deployment of missions into the field. The issue is not a new one, and similar recommendations have been made by other bodies, but while the need has been repeated many times, the problem remains. The United Nations remains the only organization which can bring global legitimacy to peacekeeping efforts. Important initiatives can be taken at the regional level, but the United Nations must be prepared and willing to exercise the responsibility for international peace and security enshrined in its Charter, no matter where the conflict. The Inquiry hopes that the Secretary-General and the Member States of the Organization will use the opportunity provided by the Millennium Summit and Assembly next year to mobilise the political will necessary to solve the current problems facing United Nations peacekeeping, to look clearly at the challenges ahead, at what needs to be learnt from past failures, including in Rwanda, and what can be done to meet the challenges of tomorrow. This entails in particular:

- Ensuring the necessary resources for peacekeeping. Member States must be prepared to provide the necessary troops at short notice to the United Nations. Participation in initiatives such as the United Nations standby-arrangements needs to be increased, but equally importantly, matched by the political will to allow those resources committed to be deployed in specific conflict situations.

The credibility of United Nations peacekeeping depends on operations being given the resources necessary to fulfil their mandates.

It also requires that troop contributors refrain from withdrawing unilaterally from a peacekeeping operation when that withdrawal may be expected to jeopardize or put in danger the operation in question. Close coordination is necessary with the Secretariat about any decision to withdraw or reduce a contingent.

- Increasing preparedness to conduct contingency planning, both for expected new peacekeeping operations and to meet possible needs to adjust mandates of existing operations.

- Taking action to make logistical resources rapidly available to contingents lacking in material, either by enhancing the use of the logistic base at Brindisi or by means of donor contributions. The Secretariat should be provided with the resources to enable it to function as a clearing-house for needs and available materiel and training resources. Concrete discussions should be held between the United Nations and relevant regional and subregional organisations on how to improve the availability of materiel for peacekeeping. The Inquiry urges that new momentum be given to solving the recurrent need for logistical support for troop contingents from developing countries.

- Ensuring that mandates fully meet the needs on the ground. The overriding concern in formulating mandates must be what presence is needed on the ground, not short-term financial constraints. The Security Council should be presented with proposals reflecting the real needs of a mission, not ones tailored to a previously perceived consensus. Mandates must be made robust enough already from the beginning of a mission. They should also be flexible enough to allow the Force Commander the lee-way to adapt to changing circumstances on the ground.

- Ensuring that the leadership of an operation arrives in a well-planned manner. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General should be appointed early, should preferrably have experience from peace negotiations which may have preceded a peacekeeping mission, and should be among the first to take up his post in the mission area. Good cooperation between the civilian and military leadership of a mission is essential.

- Ensuring full coordination between the Secretariat and other affected agencies in the planning and deployment of peacekeeping operations. It is also important to further improve coordination and cooperation between peacekeeping operations and NGOs active in the mission area.

- Ensuring that Lessons Learned from previous missions are integrated into the planning of new peacekeeping operations.

- Improve cooperation between the United Nations on the one hand, and regional and subregional organizations on the other. Existing contacts could be intensified, not least in order to enhance concrete cooperation with respect to peacekeeping activities. Regular and direct contacts between the Security Council and representatives of regional and subregional organizations active in the field of peace and security should be increased.

- There should never be any doubt as to which Rules of Engagement apply during the conduct of a peacekeeping mission. Rules of Engagement must be given formal approval by Headquarters.

3. The United Nations – and in particular the Security Council and troop contributing countries – must be prepared to act to prevent acts of genocide or gross violations of human rights wherever they may take place. The political will to act should not be subject to double standards.

4. Improve the early warning capacity of the United Nations, in particular its capacity to analyse and react to information. Steps have been taken to improve the awareness of the need for early warning and early action within different parts of the Secretariat. Nonetheless, the Inquiry feels it essential both to continue to improve the capacity of the organization to analyse and respond to information about possible conflicts, and its operational capability for preventive action. Further enhancement of the cooperation between different Secretariat departments, UNSECOORD, programmes and agencies and outside actors, including regional and subregional organizations, NGOs and the academic world, is essential. As outlined under paragraph 1 above, the Inquiry believes that the prevention of genocide merits particular attention within the scope of early warning activities.

5. Improve efforts to protect civilians in conflict and potential conflict situations. Specific provisions related to the protection of civilian populations should be included in the mandates of peacekeeping operations wherever appropriate and ensure the necessary resources for such protection. In this context, the Inquiry supports intensified efforts by the Secretary-General and the Security Council to follow-up on the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General's recent report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict (S/1999/957).

A strong and independent role for the Secretary-General is an essential component in efforts by the United Nations to prevent conflict. The Secretary-General deserves the constant support of the membership of the organization in his attempts to promote an early resolution to conflict.

6. Seek further improvements in the security of United Nations and associated personnel, including local staff. The Secretary-General should actively consider expanding the possibility of evacuation to national staff of the United Nations. Members of the national staff must be kept clearly informed of the rules which apply to them. There should be no scope for misunderstanding about their status in the event of an evacuation.

7. Ensure full cooperation between officials responsible for the security of different categories of UN personnel in the field. Ensure functioning means of communication between such officials.

8. Improve the flow of information within the United Nations system. The trend towards a more coordinated approach to the prevention and resolution of conflicts means that information must be shared with all parts of the United Nations system involved in such efforts. In particular, an effective flow of information must be ensured between the Executive Office of the Secretary-General and the substantive departments of the Secretariat as well as between Headquarters and the field.

9. Further improve the flow of information to the Security Council. When the Secretary-General does not personally brief the Security Council, that task should fall on the officer most qualified from the substantive point of view to do so, which is often the case today. The Inquiry supports the continuation of the practice of briefings by representatives of substantive departments, but also encourages direct participation in the consultations of the whole by the High Commissioners for Refugees and Human Rights, Special Representatives of the Secretary-General and when relevant, UN funds and programmes. The more direct the flow of information, the better.

10. Improve the flow of information on human rights issues. Information about human rights must be a natural part of the basis for decision-making on peacekeeping operations, within the Secretariat and by the Security Council. Reports by the Secretary-General to the Security Council should include an analysis of the human rights situation in the conflict concerned. Human rights information must be a brought to bear in the internal deliberations of the Secretariat on early warning, preventive action and peacekeeping. And increased efforts need to be made to ensure that the necessary human rights competence exists as part of the staff of UN missions in the field.

11. National evacuation operations must be coordinated with UN missions on the ground.

12. Membership of the Security Council. The fact that Rwanda was a member of the Security Council before and during the genocide was a problem. While recognizing the complexity of this issue, the Inquiry believes that consideration should be given in the course of ongoing discussions on the reform of the Council, to strengthening the possibility of other members of the Security Council or the General Assembly suspending the participation of a representative of a member state on the Council in exceptional circumstances such as that related to Rwanda. Article 27 (3) of the Charter of the United Nations, which provides that in decisions under Chapter VI, a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting in the Security Council, should be applied consistently. The difficulties inherent in the participation in Council action by the party to a conflict should also be borne in mind when electing new non-permanent members to the Council.

13. The international community should support efforts to rebuild Rwandan society after the genocide, paying particular attention to the need for reconstruction, reconciliation and respect for human rights. Donors should bear in mind the importance of balancing and meeting the needs of survivors, returning refugees and other groups affected by the genocide.

14. The United Nations should acknowledge its part of the responsibility for not having done more to prevent or stop the genocide in Rwanda. The Secretary-General should seek actively ways to launch a new beginning in the relationship between the United Nations and Rwanda, recognising the failures of the past but also establishing a commitment to cooperation in the future.

Part I  Part Ia  Part II  Part IV Part V
Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 16/05/2000
Stuart.Stein@uwe.ac.uk
İS D Stein

Faculty of Humanities, Languages and Social Science
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