p r o j e c t r w A N D A

machete-rwanda

arms cache

dallaire's informant

As discussed, sovereignty is often used as both an excuse to intervene, and also a reason not to. In the case of Rwanda, the sovereignty of the nation was deemed unbreachable, and the dwindling number of UN representatives in Rwanda were ordered to tow the line and follow protocol. This was despite huge protests by UNAMIR chief Romeo Dallaire, who had been supplied with inside information predicting the looming genocide. This came primarily in the form of an informant from the highest levels of the interahamwe, from a former member of the President’s security staff, who was prepared to divulge critical information on the condition that he and his family be offered sanctuary with the UN. This man told Dallaire of his suspicions that a genocide against the Tutsis was imminent, as well as informing him of a plot to kill opposition leaders and Belgian peacekeepers, in a ploy to start a civil war and prompt the withdrawal of the Belgians. This plan had been called off at the last minute, but represents the level of governmental complicity, with the attacking force being comprised of 48 plain clothed commandos, a minister from the ruling National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), and several local governmental officials.[1]

government arms cache

The informant also supplied Dallaire with detailed information on the interahamwe cells scattered around Kigali, some forty units with forty men each. Perhaps more importantly, the locations of arms caches deposited around Kigali were also supplied by the informant, who showed willingness to aid Dallaire in the seizure of such arms. Dallaire immediately made plans to raid the arms cache, in a show of UNAMIR strength, with hopes to disrupt the planning of the genocide. In cooperation with UN protocol, he informed his superiors of the plans to seize the arms cache, assuming that these actions lay within his mandate to protect the peace of the Arusha Accords. This assumption was theoretically well founded, as Kigali, under the Arusha Accords had been designated a ‘weapons-free zone’. This fact, however, was openly flouted, transforming Kigali into what Gourevitch calls a “Hutu Power arms bazaar”,[2] with the arrival of regular French-sponsored arms shipments, as well as the import, in great numbers, of machetes from China; far exceeding their demand for use in agriculture.

United nations response

However, despite Dallaire’s insistence, the UN high command decided that Dallaire’s plans would represent a breach in mandate, and he should instead follow protocol and inform President Habyarimana of the presence of the caches, stating that they represented a threat to the peace process. This was despite the fact that the informant had stated explicitly that the plans for the genocide had originated from the President’s court. Incredibly, Dallaire’s advice from New York was that “You should assume that he”-Habyarimana-“is not aware of these activities, but insist that he must immediately look into the situation”.[3] This example serves to underline the impotence of the UN, which is shown by their inflexibility in this scenario, and lack of motivation to intervene in an increasingly volatile situation. The sovereignty of Habyarimana's despotic state was valued over that of a pragmatic peacekeeping policy on the ground.

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