Since the end of the Cold War much of the international community has adopted more liberal foreign policies that incorporate a collective responsibility to respond to international crises. Because the United Nations struggle to effectively implement and coordinate multinational humanitarian missions individual nations have sometimes filled the void and deployed their own interventions in foreign land. On June 22, 1994 the United Nations authorized France to “take all necessary means” to protect civilians and ensure humanitarian aid in Rwanda, two months into the genocide that was devastating the country. While this unilateral humanitarian intervention, named Operation Turquoise, certainly saved the lives of thousands of Rwandans the operation was vehemently opposed by the Tutsi-led Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) and was questioned by the international community because of France’s entangled relationship with the Hutu-dominated Rwandan. The French intervention allegedly assisted genocidaires flee the country after the war and sometimes collaborated with the Hutu-led Forces Armées Rwandaises (FAR). Despite the breach in neutrality traditionally associated with humanitarian interventions authorized by the United Nations, the international community was desperate for someone to take action as other individual countries tried to ignore the violence taking place in Rwanda in the spring of 1994.
What are the implications of the United Nations authorizing a unilateral humanitarian intervention in a sovereign country whose opposing parties to not consent to the operation? The problems associated with humanitarian intervention becomes very apparent after analyzing Operation Turquoise, which blatantly assisted the perpetrators of genocide while the victims of genocide continued to suffer throughout the country. Although some non-government organizations refused to work with the French because of their strong association with the Hutu-government, picking and choosing those who receive humanitarian aid creates an enormous ethical dilemma. Furthermore, is it dangerous to allow an individual nation with its own strategic interests to intervene in a sovereign country although the intervention is justified as a humanitarian mission? The French government’s persistence to support a member of the francophone community prevented their operation from providing objective humanitarian aid to all Rwandans. Operation Turquoise was not implemented solely for the selfless act of saving innocent lives but also to protect and assist former allies. Nonetheless, the operation still saved thousands of lives during the genocide.
The United Nations never should have relied on a humanitarian intervention in Rwanda by a single government’s military, particularly that of France. If the United Nations want to effectively provide humanitarian assistance and authorize the use of force to protect such missions then they need to be willing to create a multinational military force for rapid-deployment that can maintain neutrality, universally protect human rights, and properly fulfill its mandate. Without a multinational force under the command of the United Nation’s blue berets an intervention is likely to be distracted by individual foreign policy interests and violate the international law of sovereignty. Without a robust commitment by the international community to create a proper multi-national military response-force the United Nations should not be allowed to authorize a mission to invade another nation’s territory.
With the death of Rwandan President Habyarimana in a plane crash on April 6, 1994, the radical Hutu-government initiated its final solution by organizing killing squads to slaughter every Tutsi and moderate Hutu in the country. Although the United Nations had been mediating a peace agreement between the RPF and the FAR through the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda the peacekeeping force was unprepared for the violence that overtook the country (“Background – UNAMIR”). Within ten weeks the Hutu-militias, known as interahamwe, killed over 800,000 people, which was about 10% of the population. Another 30% of the population fled as refugees to neighboring Zaire, Tanzania, Burundi, or Uganda (Kroslak 54). Within weeks of the genocide, UNAMIR was dramatically reduced from 2,500 to 270 peacekeepers as a result of the lack of political will to put soldiers in harms way (Gray). At a time when the international community needed to enhance the mandate from a peacekeeping operation focused on its diplomatic capabilities to a stronger militarized mission able to use force to protect civilians, the international community turned its back on Rwanda and diminished UNAMIR to that of an observer mission.
Although the United Nations finally adjusted to the deteriorating situation in May of 1994 by authorizing an enhanced UNAMIR mission by deploying an additional 5,000 troops, the mission’s personnel would not arrive until October and Security Council sought a temporary partner to provide more immediate assistance. By mid-June the French government volunteered to intervene as pressure mounted from civil organizations and the public due to international inaction (Kroslak 53). Many members in the Security Council viewed France as the “least suitable power to intervene in a state it had been deeply involved with,” but they ultimately acquiesced due to the slow deployment of UNAMIR II, the passivity of other member states, and the desire for the United Nations to take action (53). On June 22, 1994 the Security Council passed Resolution 929 to provide humanitarian assistance to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Rwanda. The mission was authorized under Chapter VII of the founding charter to use military force to not only protect the mission but to also protect “civilians under imminent threat of physical violence,” (Resolution 929). Resolution 929 portrayed the ability of an individual member state to exert its influence in the Security Council and the failure of the United Nations to properly react to the ongoing crisis in Rwanda.
Operation Turquoise received tremendously mixed reviews from the international community as well as the Rwandan population. The purpose of the mission, which authorized the use of force to protect the distribution of humanitarian aid and not to bring an end to the conflict, received criticism. Although some member states wanted to use military force to prevent the continuation of the genocide, the French never truly considered military intervention to defeat the FAR because of their close ties with the Hutu government (Kroslak 230). Even Romeo Dallaire, the force commander of UNAMIR, opposed Operation Turquoise because it made the United Nations appear to favor FAR through its support of the French (Dallaire 433). The French and RPF never achieved a line of communication and all of their interactions had to come through UNAMIR. Many humanitarian organizations even avoided the Safe Humanitarian Zone (SHZ) the French established because these NGOs did not want to be affiliated with the close connection between the French and the Hutu government (“Joint Evaluation”). From the outset the alliance between the French and the genocidal regime created problems.
These concerns came to fruition several times throughout the operation as the French government continued to favor their former allies. The operation was deployed as the RPF was on the offensive and had gained control in much of northern Rwanda. Not surprisingly, the SHZ was established in the dominantly FAR-controlled southwestern region of Rwanda, which unequally assisted the Hutu population as they began their own mass exodus from the country (Destexhe). Because many militants were “intermingled with the refugees,” the French provided large amounts of aid towards the former genocidaires (Destexhe). While the RPF were always skeptical of a French intervention, the fact that Operation Turquoise appeared to be very militarized made the Tutsi leadership even more skeptical. Over 1,000 French troops were deployed in the SHZ along with heavy equipment such as armored vehicles, heavy mortars, helicopters, fighter-bombers, and ground attack planes (Kroslak 228). The French justified the heavy equipment as a deterrent from military attacks but the opposition often criticized the low quantity of traditional humanitarian supplies such as trucks, ambulances, and nurses (Grunfeld and Huijboom 235). The confrontational attitude between the French and the RPF led to three minor confrontations in which shots were fired but no casualties occurred. Nonetheless, the French made no concerted effort to particularly assist the real victims of the genocide: the Tutsi population.
Nonetheless, by the time Operation Turquoise withdrew from Rwanda and UNAMIR assumed full control of the humanitarian aspects in the country, the French military had saved thousands of lives. One of the most comprehensive reports on the international response to Rwanda’s genocide, the Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda by the third-party Relief and Rehabilitation Network, had predicted that approximately 14,000 threatened civilians were protected and the number of NGOs operating in the south-west of the country increased from three to fifteen in just two months (“Joint Evaluation”). Additionally, the commander of Operation Turquoise, General Jean-Claude Lafourcade, reported that they had prevented mass outbreaks of cholera by improving the region’s sanitation and became the first organization to begin burying the thousands of cadavers that lined the roads of every village (Grunfeld and Huijboom 235). Despite the inherent flaws of Operation Turquoise, the mission undoubtedly saved thousands of lives.
Review of terms and concepts
The entire concept of humanitarian intervention is an invention of the United Nations and is nowhere to be found in its founding charter. The United Nations Security Council, a committee composed of five permanent members and ten members elected on a rotational basis can pass resolutions relating to international peace and security (Thakur 30). Although the Security Council was in gridlock throughout the Cold War due to the veto powers of the permanent-five members, including the United States and the Soviet Union, the council experienced newfound optimism for their involvement in world affairs with the collapse of the Soviet Union. UN-Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali published his Agenda for Peace in 1992 and argued that the end of the Cold War, “represented an unprecedented recommitment to the charter” and its mission to save the world from the “scourge of war.” As the United Nations had rediscovered its ambition to assert itself in international affairs, Boutros-Ghali creatively utilized newer methods of intervention not found in the UN charter.
Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Missions
The prevalence of peacekeeping operations and humanitarian intervention occurred drastically more often throughout the 1990s than any previous decade. Under the UN charter the Security Council is authorized to make recommendations of pacific settlement under Chapter VI or take action with economic sanctions and the use of force under Chapter VII (Thakur 32). Peacekeeping was established as an “intermediate technique between merely passing resolutions and actually fighting,” and was founded on the principles of non-use of force, consent of belligerent parties, and the neutrality and impartiality of peacekeepers (32). Member states rarely passed resolutions that invoked Chapter VII in its fullest because most states are unprepared to, “take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security,” (Bratt). Instead, peacekeeping operations filled a void for the United Nations and allowed them to maintain a presence in the world without using force. However, the deaths of peacekeepers in Somalia and Rwanda caused dramatic removal of troops from member states as their respective governments realized the risk was not worth the reward.
Even when peacekeeping operations lacked the fortitude to maintain peace between warring parties the United Nations wants to continue providing humanitarian aid to civilians who suffer during war. When the lack of security prevented aid organizations from accessing civilians in need, the United Nations began authorizing the use of force to not only protect peacekeepers in self-defense, as was traditional in peacekeeping operations, but also to estbalish security for the access of humanitarian access. In 1992, two years before the crisis in Rwanda, UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali authorized the use of force to provide humanitarian aid in Somalia without the consent of government or warring parties, invoking Chapter VII (Bratt). This was an important shift in principle because Boutros-Ghali admitted the situation in Somalia was “primarily of a domestic nature,” and did not explain how it constituted a security threat to the international community. Two years later, Chapter VII use of force would be authorized in Rwanda without an explanation of how the conflict affected international peace and security.
While peacekeeping and humanitarian interventions share certain characteristics, the purpose of each mission and how they are implemented are tremendously different. Peacekeeping is defined as any operation that is deployed with the consent of belligerent parties after a peace agreement has been established to assist in the implementation of the agreement’s political, social, and economic goals. To maintain neutrality and impartiality of these parties, the United Nations does not use force except for in self-defense. However, humanitarian intervention is an operation that uses military force against warring parties to protect human rights and provide humanitarian assistance (Moore). The purpose of this type of mission is not to end a conflict but to provide assistance to civilians who are suffering as a result of conflict. However, a foreign party intervening for humanitarian purposes does not want to become a new actor in a war and needs to maintain some degree of impartiality. However, impartiality becomes progressively harder to maintain with increasing use of force (Thakur 32). Ultimately, local parties usually view the United Nations as an imperial power fighting for influence. Therefore, while humanitarian interventions may utilize the use of force, too much military force aimed towards a particular party within a conflict may create a more dangerous situation.
Neutrality and Impartiality
The conflict between maintaining neutral during a conflict to provide humanitarian aid to civilians while ignoring gross human rights violations of a warring party is an enormous ethical question humanitarians continue to face today. Humanitarian scholar and former Vice-President International Committee of the Red Cross Jean Pictet explains, “one cannot be at one and the same time the champion of justice and of charity,” (Chander 41). Some argue that if a mission’s primary purpose is to provide charity then it cannot be a political mission because relief is not a political act (Bhatia 49). The International Committee of the Red Cross exemplifies this position by defending charity; they provide humanitarian aid to all people no matter perpetrator or victim (Chandler 41). By remaining impartial they have gained the trust and respect from even the worst perpetrators of human rights violations, allowing them to report on conditions and initiate change slowly through cooperation. By maintaining neutrality many humanitarian organizations have gained access to insecure war zones because they did not pick and choose who receive aid.
However, others argue that humanitarian intervention is only, “noble when coupled with political action and justice,” (Chandler 43). Alain Destexhe, former secretary-general of Médecins Sans Frontières argues how aid is certainly a political act because humanitarian organizations must choose who receives aid and who does not with limited resources (43). The universal push by the media to give money and provide aid to starving Africans oversimplifies these conflicts and can actually prolong wars by strengthening warring parties. British Secretary of State Clare Short stated that by providing excessive humanitarian aid one can become, “haunted by the risk of relief maintaining conflict,” (Chandler 44). Additionally, humanitarian aid is typically biased towards areas controlled by the government due to already established leadership and organized institutions (Bhatia 60). Humanitarian interventions need to strategically distribute aid while considering political ramifications of their relief.
The call to act
Despite the drawbacks of using force the situation in Rwanda certainly called for a stronger military reaction than was provided. The use of force must be considered in any humanitarian intervention that involves a state committing crimes against humanity including genocide as a result of the Responsibility to Protect. Passed in 2005, the United Nations explains that, “Sovereignty no longer exclusively protects States from foreign interference; it is a charge of responsibility that holds States accountable for the welfare of their people,” (R2P). Although this international norm was not yet established in 1994, several factors supported the decision to intervene in Rwanda. Humanitarians have long believed that, “autonomy must not be seen as absolute, but rather in the context of human rights,” and that because the Rwandan government was failing to provide for the welfare of its citizens the United Nations had the obligation to intervene (Ludlow). Because human rights violations and widespread suffering cause instability and threaten international peace, the United Nations must invoke Chapter VII use of force to defend international security (Ludlow; Bratt). Finally, while the international community had yet to call the events taking place in Rwanda “genocide”, the 1948 Convention on Genocide made genocide an international crime and required the international community to take necessary actions to end it. The international community certainly had enough justification to utilize military force in Rwanda. Unfortunately, nearly every individual member state refused to provide necessary troops to take action and prevent the genocide from occurring.
Analysis of Operation Turquoise
Although humanitarian interventions are typically deployed with good intentions and with the purpose of assisting civilians facing human rights violations, these intentions can be warped when an intervention is deployed by one nation that has its political interests at stake. Operation Turquoise embodies a humanitarian intervention that failed to fulfill its selfless mission because of its entanglement with a militarized group in a conflict. Through a deeper analysis of the French intervention in Rwanda the implications of a unilateral humanitarian mission in a sovereign country become more clear and suggest that such missions should be deployed under a multinational United Nations force.
First of all, the circumstances that led to the authorization of Operation Turquoise were essentially political in nature and not focused on preventing the human rights violations taking place in Rwanda. UNAMIR lacked the military strength to provide secure access to humanitarian organizations attempting to provide aid to the suffering local population. When the Arusha peace process degenerated into genocide the Security Council reduced the size of UNAMIR from 2,500 to 270 troops (Destexhe). Under General Romeo Dallaire’s command, UNAMIR barely had the strength to control Kigali. Despite his constant pleas to increase the scope of his mandate and provide more troops, the Security Council was unable to adjust to the reality of the situation until May 13, 1994 when they authorized UNAMIR II, which would increase the number of peacekeepers to 5,500 (“Rwanda – UNAMIR”). Unfortunately, these reinforcements would not arrive until October of 1994, months after the RPF ended the genocide with military victory. Although General Dallaire valiantly protected lives with limited means throughout the worst of the genocide, he lacked the capabilities to effectively provide security for humanitarian assistance throughout the country.
The main problem, according to General Dallaire was, “the lack of political will on the part of world leaders,” (Gray). Within twenty-four hours of the genocide the French government dispatched 359 troops and the Belgian government deployed paratroopers into the Kigali (Kroslak 219; Destexhe). Unfortunately, these soldiers were not deployed to protect the Rwandans; they evacuated all foreigners who wanted to leave, including embassies, foreign schools, and missions. Hardly any Rwandans were evacuated from the crisis, even if they worked for NGOs or United Nations agencies (Destexhe). In the aftermath of the failed peacekeeping mission in Somalia that cost the lives of eighteen American peacekeepers, the United States refused to become involved in another African quagmire (Meredith 483). Although the main international players claimed they lacked the capability to rapidly deploy a military mission or that the conflict was far too complicated for international states to solve, Jonathan Moore argues that, “a rapid unilateral invasion, unmandated by the Security Council, by a powerful and efficient force, could have done the job.” Most of the international community followed a policy of ignorance and refused to take action or even speak of the horrors taking place in Rwanda.
By the time the Security Council authorized Resolution 929 the member states within the council were more concerned about saving the reputation of the United Nations than creating an effective mission to save lives and stop the genocide. The relationship between the French and the Hutu-government organizing the killing squads was well known. Nonetheless, France is one of the permanent-five members in the Security Council and is able to exert their influence within the council (Adebejo 73). Paul Kagame, leader of the RPF and current president of Rwanda joked that, “France had three votes on the Council,” because of its strong francophone ties with Djibouti and Rwanda, who also held seats on the council in 1994 (Kroslak 218). Although the French government receives a lot of criticism for its biased intervention in Rwanda, the Security Council deserves its own share of criticism for authorizing Operation Turquoise in the first place.
The Security Council’s structure unfairly gives extra influence to permanent members and allowed for the Hutu-led government to maintain a seat on the Council throughout the entirety of the genocide. The current structure of the Security Council allows for the permanent-five to exert unequal influence on the committee and therefore throughout the world. Only crises that are deemed important according to the interests of the permanent-five necessitate action. UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali admitted to its failure, stating that:
… [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. (Moore)
Despite recognizing the institution’s failure, Boutros-Ghali was unable to find a better solution than authorizing a French intervention. Most member states recognized the strong French relationship with the Hutu-regime in Rwanda but decided doing something was better than nothing.
French relationship with francophone Rwanda
The French relationship with the Hutu-government had been established long before the start of the genocide and dramatically impacted the implementation of Operation Turquoise. Throughout Africa, the French government ambitiously protects all francophone countries in an attempt to increase its sphere of influence in the world (Grunfeld and Huijboom 33; Kraslok 60). France routinely provided military assistance to regimes deemed friendly to Paris, and as of 2000 maintained military assistance accords with nearly half of Africa’s countries (McNulty). Although this blind support of francophone regimes was justified in the name of providing security and promoting economic prosperity, former President Valery Giscard d’Estaing once bluntly declared, “I am dealing with African affairs, namely with France’s interests in Africa,” (McNulty). Therefore when the English-speaking RPF invaded Rwanda from Uganda in October 1990 the French government quickly became Rwanda’s government, led by President Habyarimana, most important ally. Within a week of the invasion the French provided over 1,000 soldiers to Rwanda because the attack was perceived as an, “attack on a francophone state,” (Grunfeld and Huijboom 33). The amount of aid provided to Rwanda would eventually triple by the end of the year (Kroslak 102). The French had certainly aligned themselves with Habyaramana’s Hutu-led government very early on in the conflict.
In retrospect it’s easy to criticize the French support of what is now viewed as a genocidal regime but at the time the decision to support Habyarimana was very understandable. First of all, the international community tends to favor stability over rebellion and often supports fellow nations with troops to quell foreign invasions. France was not the only country to provide military assistance and aid; Belgium, Egypt, South Africa, Zaire, Great Britain, Bulgaria, Italy, Israel, and the Seychelles all contributed troops and aid towards Habyarimana’s government to resist the RPF invasion (Kroslak 35). Particularly for the French government, maintaining influence abroad was important because they wanted to be perceived as a great world power. French government spokesmen Nicolas Sarkozy declared, “We are not a middle power, we are a great power,” on June 26, 1994 when Operation Turquoise was deployed, displaying the continued importance for France to exert its influence in the francophone world (Kroslak 60). Strategically, Rwanda sat on the border of dominantly francophone central-Africa and dominantly Anglophone eastern-Africa. With an English-speaking rebel group invading from the north it made perfect sense for the French to strengthen the government of Habyarimana, a charming and Parisian-educated man who was considered a worthy “guardian of the Francophonie,” (100). Unfortunately for the Rwandan civilians, the French political support for the Hutu-government blinded the French’s perceptions of the genocide in Rwanda.
Problems from a biased position
The blatant support the French government had towards the Hutu-government created several problems throughout the implementation of the mission, particularly in collaborating with other actors to effectively provide humanitarian assistance. Hutus and government sympathizers went “mad with joy” expecting an “imminent rescue” by the French when the mission was first authorized by the Security Council (Dallaire 426). Some Tutsis maintained hope that the presence of a foreign military could be good news and bring an end to the genocide but these hopes were quieted by a staunch opposition by the RPF. General Dallaire resented Operation Turquoise, an operation he phrased as an “invasion” because it put his own mission in jeopardy (427). By authorizing a country as strongly in favor of the former Hutu-government that was presently implementing genocide the United Nations appeared to be losing impartiality. For the French intervention that allowed for the use of force this was not an enormous problem but it increased the risks towards UNAMIR, which relied on cooperation from the RPF and the Hutu-led military group FAR. Although the United Nations maintains the position that Operation Turquoise and UNAMIR maintained close cooperation throughout the joint-missions, General Dallaire requested to remove his mission from Rwanda while it prepared to deploy UNAMIR II and the French conducted its own mission (Dallaire 436). Ultimately, UNAMIR remained in Kigali but with a strained relationship with the French.
The RPF never established direct communication with the leaders of Operation Turquoise and were constantly at odds with their French “invaders”. The French support of the Hutu-regime was never kept secret either. French Colonel Thibault stated early on in the mission that he would not disarm the FAR nor the militias but he would actively fight the RPF if they came near the SHZ (Kroslak 237). Although Thibault was relieved of duty for breaking from the official line that the mission was created, “on the basis of total impartiality, in a context where there was no enemy,” the unofficial position of most French soldiers was pro-Hutu (235). Paul Kagame reportedly told General Dallaire to, “Tell France that Kigali can handle more body bags than Paris,” referencing the supposition that France would end their mission if they came under fire and lost lives (Dallaire 432). However, the RPF never challenged the French territory in the southwest part of Rwanda, allowing many FAR members and perpetrators of the genocide to seek refuge and eventually escape the country as the war ended.
On several occasions the French blatantly supported their former allies in a distinct breach of impartiality. Least severe of these were situations when the French reportedly transported FAR troops and leadership on official equipment of Operation Turquoise. An Ethiopian member of UNAMIR claimed that he saw French vehicles transport FAR troops to Zaire and other UN officials claimed that the French military, “flew key [FAR] commanders and interahamwe leaders… on a series of flights between July and September 1994,” (Kroslak 233). The most dramatic conflict between the French and RPF forces occurred in the university town of Butare, where a French convoy attempting to save expatriates and a large number of orphans were caught at an RPF checkpoint to be rescuing two government officials. RPF soldiers killed the two officials and a firefight ensued between the French convoy and the RPF for less than a minute with no further casualties (Dallaire 458; Kraslok 237). This was the only occasion when the two sides exchanged gunshots.
Other examples of complicity between the French and the genocidal regime led to the loss of lives of Tutsis. The Tutsi population in Rwanda today widely accepts that the French military collaborated with the Hutu militia to murder Tutsi civilians. Aurea Mukalisa, a witness at a military tribunal in Paris in 2005 stated:
“Hutu militia entered the camp and pointed to Tutsi’s who were forced by the French military to leave the camp. Outside the camp the Tutsi’s were killed by the militia… I have seen French soldier who killed soldiers with big shining knives.” (Grunfeld and Huijboom 235)
At Bisesero, a small town south of Kibuye, the French discovered 2,000 Tutsis who came out of hiding to be saved by the French. However, Captain Gillier lacked the trucks to rescue such a large population and when they returned three days later all of the people had been massacred (Dallaire 451; Kroslak 238). Accusations that the French alerted their Hutu friends about the presence of Tutsis in Bisesero are widely accepted in Rwanda today. Regardless, the negligence showed by Captain Gillier is unbelievable knowing the prevalence of Hutu militias in the country and refusing to provide any protection until rescue trucks arrived.
Another triumph that the French claim Operation Turquoise accomplished was the burying of rotting corpses that caused a sanitation crisis throughout the country. However, today the Rwandan government accuses the French of covering mass graves to conceal the mass murders of Hutu militias. Most notably at Murambi, a technical school where over 50,000 Tutsis sought refuge and were ultimately massacred in April 1994, a museum curator claims that the French arrived with bulldozers to hide the bodies in mass graves and constructed a volley ball court on the dirt above (Ntambara). Furthermore, although Operation Turquoise had yet to be deployed in Rwanda at the time of the Murambi massacre the narrative within Rwanda continues to say that the French failed to prevent the atrocities at this site (“Murambi”). Although the French certainly favored the former Hutu government more than the RPF the truth of some stories Rwandans tell about the French are difficult to truly believe because of their own opposition to the French.
Finally, a major issue of Operation Turquoise was the region it focused on and the majority of people it assisted. According to the Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, the operation divided attention towards the southwest, which was primarily a Hutu-stronghold, and away from the northwest, which was primarily a refugee point for Tutsis, at a critical time (“Joint Evaluation”). Some aid organizations refused to work under the French operation because they knew many of the refugees in the southwest of the country were Hutus and many genocidaires (Chandler 44). In particular, Médecins Sans Frontières withdrew aid from these camps in fear that relief would strengthen an eventual counter-attack on Rwanda (44). Operation Turquoise received its strongest criticism because it primarily assisted fleeing Hutu populations as the RPF were close to winning the war and ending the genocide.
However, the decision for the French to deploy Operation Turquoise in the southwest of the country is logical because it was the safest part of the country for the French to work. Due to RPF opposition the French would have been much more unsafe in other parts of the country; they deployed in friendly territory where they could do the most effective work without suffering casualties. Additionally, they weren’t the only ones providing support to the Hutus. Because of the growing media attention towards Rwanda and the deteriorating humanitarian crisis developing at refugee camps, enormous humanitarian aid campaigns provided aid to dominantly Hutus who fled the country fearing their own counter-genocide (Chandler 44). The killing militias were intermingled with refugees and gained tremendous power in humanitarian camps, as they were already organized and gained more power by controlling aid (Destexhe). The final insult the international community could give to Rwanda was to finally start paying attention to the crisis as the genocidaires and killing militias were the ones who needed assistance. The French were not the only culprit.
As a result of Operation Turquoise, the French and Rwandan governments continue to distrust one another and lack strong communication. When Rwanda hosted its large memorial service ten years later in 2004 France was not invited to attend. 25,000 Rwandans protested the French embassy in 2006 after high-ranking French officials stated that the RPF shot down Habyaramana’s plane igniting the genocide and advised RPF leader, now president, Paul Kagame to be prosecuted by the International Tribunal for Rwanda (Grunfeld and Huijboom 235). As a result the French and Rwandan embassies were closed down in each respective country and diplomatic ties were cut off. Although the embassies reopened years later, the event displays the continued hostilities the Rwandans hold against the French.
The French humanitarian intervention of Rwanda was certainly not the perfect situation because of France’s prior relationship with the Habyaramana’s government. When the Security Council passed Resolution 929, even UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali admitted that it was not an, “ideal situation,” but it was the best scenario that was on the table (Kroslak 215). With the lack of leadership by the other permanent-five members in the Security Council and the ongoing violence taking place in Rwanda, the Security Council felt obliged to take some sort of action. However, one must wonder if the United Nations would have been better off by taking no action and letting the conflict sort itself out. The genocide would have ended by the mid July with the military victory of the RPF regardless of the French intervention. The French did save thousands of lives, but at what cost? They assisted the safe rescue of several genocidaires, allowed the slaughter of many other Tutsis, and have left a permanent scar between the Rwandan and French governments. Furthermore, the French represent the lack of hope entrusted in the United Nations and the international community by common Rwandan people.
The United Nations never should have relied on the French to be the hero and intervene in Rwanda. In his Agenda for Peace, UN Secretary-General Boutos-Ghali presented several proposals to establish a standing army of multinational troops prepared for rapid deployment into peacekeeping and humanitarian missions and a large humanitarian fund to help pay for these missions (Boutros-Ghali). An effective proposal has yet to be passed and the United Nations continued to rely on contributions by individual member states to organize a humanitarian intervention and the timeline to establish an effective force remains far too long. If the international community is serious about collective security and providing humanitarian aid then member states must be willing to contribute troops and money to fund these missions. Unilateral interventions create too many conflicts of interest and always have ulterior motives besides humanitarian aid.
Finally, humanitarian interventions need to focus on providing aid to civilians and separating militants from refugees. Universalism of aid is dangerous because it can prolong conflicts by continuing to support weak rebel groups who can eventually reignite a conflict. However, particularly during the Rwandan genocide, separating militants from civilians can be incredibly difficult. Many civilians who never wore a military uniform killed hundreds of Tutsis amongst undisciplined killing militias. Situations such as these complicate the humanitarian process but these former perpetrators must be reintegrated into society and aid programs must consider efforts to demilitarize combatants. However, formal leaders of the government, military, and even militias should not receive equal treatment as civilians as the French intervention did. Leaders who commit human rights violations including genocide need to be tried for their crimes and cannot be provided safe refuge in another country. A multinational humanitarian intervention would be less biased and more effectively evaluate the situation.
The legacy of Operation Turquoise is one of caution. The French deserve recognition for being the only country willing to intervene for humanitarian causes but their strategic interests blinded the execution of an effective mission. The unilateral intervention is on the wrong side of history as the French supported what would eventually be called a genocidal regime. In the future, the United Nations needs to be impartial in providing humanitarian aid to civilians and avoiding political entanglement with warring parties. Without a multinational force that provides impartial protection of humanitarian an intervention will be perceived as an imperial invader exerting its influence upon the country.
Adebajo, Adekeye. UN Peacekeeping in Africa: From the Suez Crisis to the Sudan Conflicts.
London: Lynne Rienner Pubishers, 2011. Print.
Adekeye Adebajo’s book is an overview of UN peacekeeping in Africa, particularly focusing on why the UN was struggled to effectively mediate peace on the continent. He articulates the issues within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations through a series of case studies starting from the creation of the concept of “peacekeeping” during the Suez crisis, through the evolution of peacekeeping after the end of the Cold War, and ending with the conflict in Sudan revolving around Darfur. Chapter three, titled “The UN in the Great Lakes Region” is of most importance to my research because it describes the issues in the UN during the Rwandan genocide and the decision-making that led to a UN-sanctioned intervention by the French. Adebajo strongly criticizes the importance of the permanent five members in the UN Security Council by showing how France was able to maneuver their own intervention in a country they already had strong influence in.
Berdal, Mats. “Lessons Not Learned: The Use of Force in ‘Peace Operations’ in the 1990s.” International Peacekeeping : 55-74 (2000) Web. 10 Nov 2013.
Mats Berdal analyzes a broad study of humanitarian interventions using force during the 1990s including the French intervention in Rwanda. Berdal criticizes the use of force for peace because it violates key UN policies such as neutrality and pacifism. By utilizing several case studies from the 1990s, it provides a general critique of unilateral intervention of peace beyond the case of Operation Turquoise. Berdal also suggests that although unilateral intervention for peace appears necessary at times, these situations should be prevented earlier before the use of force is required.
Bhatia, Michael V. War and Intervention: Issues for Contemporary Peace Operations. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press, Inc., 2003. Print.
Michael Bhatia writes about the complexities of modern interventions in a broad sense, including humanitarian interventions. He briefly discusses Rwanda’s genocide and discusses the ethical issues about humanitarian impartiality because of the impact is has in strengthening rogue governments and prolonging war. He argues that warring parties take advantage of humanitarian aid and the international community must be very careful in how aid is distributed.
Bratt, Duane. “Chapter VII Peacekeeping and International Law.” Peacekeeping and International Relations, 26 (1997) : 5-6. Web. Nov 14 2013.
Duane Bratt analyzes the legality of humanitarian interventions in Somalia, Rwanda, and Haiti and argues that the United Nations has broadly expanded the qualifications for an international intervention. Although Chapter VII interventions were justified only to maintain international peace and security, the UN Security Council authorized a French intervention for purely humanitarian purposes. This is important for my research because it provides the French justification for the intervention and how it doesn’t necessarily align with traditional UN intervention. Bratt argues that this mission was purely authorized because no other options of intervening in this genocide were feasible at the time and was an attempt to save face.
Chandler, David. From Kosovo to Kabul: Human Rights and International Intervention. Sterling, VA: Pluto Press, 2002. Print.
David Chandler criticizes the universalism of humanitarian aid as an idealistic “idea of our time” but actually very difficult to execute. He briefly discusses the Rwandan genocide and critiques how the media pushed the international community to blindly give aid although the genocidaire militias and Hutu refugees received most of the aid as they fled the country following the genocide. He also discusses the pros and cons of maintaining neutrality during a humanitarian intervention.
Dallaire, Romeo. Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. New York: Carroll and Graf Publishers, 2005. Print.
Romeo Dallaire was the Force Commander of the UN Assistance Mission For Rwanda and wrote this autobiography to bear witness to the atrocities he witnessed during the genocide but also to criticize the failure of the United Nations and the international community as a whole in preventing the genocide from occurring. The book is extremely detailed and extends from his arrival in the country when a cease-fire was made between the Rwandan government and the Rwandan Patriotic Front until his departure from the country months after the genocide ended. Of particular interest to my research is the chapter titled “The Turquoise Invasion”, which really sums up Dallaire’s opinion of the French intervention. From Operation Turquoise’s conception, he worried that the RPF would oppose the French-led operation and put his UNAMIR force in danger. Dallaire had close connections with leadership on both sides of the conflict and could assess that the intervention was not portrayed as neutral – a key tenant in UN peacekeeping operations.
Destexhe, Alain. “The Third Genocide.” Foreign Policy 97 (1994) : n. pag. Web. 8 Nov 2013.
Alain Destexhe was the secretary-geenral of Medicins Sans Frontieres in 1994 during the Rwandan genocide. He provides an overview of the events that took place in 1994 and a scathing criticism of the international community for their lack of resolve in responding to the conflict. He argues that although the French doubtlessly saved thousands of lives by intervening, they did not influence the political situation or try to bring an end to the conflict. Because of the French government’s entangled interests with the Hutu government, Destexhe believes the French never should have been authorized to intervene. This source is useful to my research because it provides a reaction within a year of the conflict. It shows that even within months of Operation Turquoise the international community had already questioned the validity of the French intervention.
Gray, Christine. “Peacekeeping and enforcement action in Africa: the role of Europe and the obligations of multilateralism.” Review of International Studies, 31 (2005) 207-223. Web. 14 Nov 2013.
Christine Gray analyzes the role of European nations in humanitarian intervention and peacekeeping by focusing on the case studies of Rwanda and Sudan. Gray emphasizes the importance of multilateralism between individual states, regional organizations, and inter-governmental organizations such as the United Nations. For the purposes of neutrality and increased sharing of resources for important peacekeeping operations, multilateralism is the most legitimate method for humanitarian intervention. Particularly for this research, his research of the UK’s campaign to legalize a unilateral intervention for humanitarian purposes without UN consent is important because it could further legitimize the French intervention. Gray also explains the Brahimi Report which requests for peacekeeping mission mandates to allow for the use of force to protect UN personnel as well as civilians facing an imminent threat of physical violence, something the French intervention rarely used.
Grunfeld, Fred, and Anke Huijboom. The Failure to Prevent Genocide in Rwanda: The Role of Bystanders. Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2007. Print.
Grunfeld and Huijboom focus on the role of international bystanders during the genocide in Rwanda and make an argument for how the international community could have made a difference if they intervened. Although the book particularly focuses on the role of the United States and the Netherlands, the book focuses several sections on the French role during the conflict. The authors make it very clear that Operation Turquoise was not a humanitarian endeavor but a rescue mission to help Hutu genocidaires escape the country. This source is useful because it explains how the lack of support within the international community led to a weak response from the United Nations, which then eagerly supported a French intervention in order to avoid accusations of ignoring the conflict entirely.
“The Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda: Study III Principal Findings and Recommendations.” Relief and Rehabilitation Network (1996) Web. 16 Nov 2013.
This evaluation, led by the Relief and Rehabilitation Network, was the first comprehensive report describing the response of the international community following the genocide in Rwanda. In particular, the report focuses on the humanitarian impacts of Operation Turquoise. RRN points out that by focusing all of its forces in the southwest region of the country, humanitarian agencies were unable to operate in the northwest region of the country which was arguably of higher need. The French operation diverted forces towards the southwest which was a Hutu-government stronghold and potentially created more instability in the region. For the purpose of this paper, the report provides several recommendations of what should have been done to improve the humanitarian crisis that was unfolding in Rwanda.
Kroslak, Daniela. The French Betrayal of Rwanda. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2008. Print.
Daniela Kroslak’s book is an in-depth study of the French role in Rwanda’s genocide and offers strong criticisms of the French responsibility in allowing the genocide to occur. The book offers a brief background of the conflict but focuses on the French role in the conflict. Because of the French government’s close relationship with Rwanda and information they knew from the Rwandan government, Kroslak argues that the French were most capable of preventing the genocide. Instead they not only allowed it to happen but were complicit in the genocide by propping the Hutu government. This book is particularly useful in my research because it allows is the most detailed and thorough source I’ve found on the topic. Using this source will open new doors to other potential topics to be researched further because it provides a complex overview of the French intervention.
Ludlow, D.R.L. “Humanitarian Intervention and the Rwandan Genocide.” The Journal of Conflict Studies, 19 (1999) Web. 16 Nov 2013.
Ludlow provides a detailed background of humanitarian peacekeeping including the historical precedent and theoretical arguments for it before providing a detailed description of the international response to the conflict in Rwanda. Ludlow balances the positive aspects of Operation Turquoise with the negatives by supporting the notion that the French-led operation saved thousands of lives while serving its own interests. The author also criticizes Western arguments that a rapid mission could have deployed at the onset of the genocide in Rwanda by stating that the French forces arrived in Rwanda within 24 hours of Resolution 929 passing the UN Security Council. This report is also useful because it utilizes the Denmark led Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, one of the most comprehensive reviews of the international response since the crisis occurred.
McNulty, Mel. “French arms, war and genocide in Rwanda.” Crime, Law and Social Change 33: 105-129. (2000). Web. 8 Nov 2013.
Mel McNulty analyzes the influence of French military and the sales of arms between 1990 and the Rwandan genocide. McNulty’s research suggests that the French government was complicit in the Rwandan genocide because they supported the Hutu-majority government in an arms race to prepare for an imminent attack on the Tutsis. Furthermore, the research shows that Operation Turquoise could not be considered a neutral intervention because of its ongoing connection with the Hutu government. This research is essential to my research because it strengthens the argument that unilateral intervention is inherently biased because of prior interactions with a country. Only the United Nations can be considered somewhat “neutral” and any Chapter VII intervention authorized by the UN that is primarily led by a single country cannot be successful.
Meredith, Martin. The Fate of Africa: A history of fifty years of independence. New York: Public Affairs, 2005. Print.
Martin Meredith provides a broad history of Africa since the end of colonization and focuses on the various issues continuing to plague the continent today. Although his book covers the history of nearly every African state, he provides extensive research on Rwanda and the factors that led to the genocide and the lack of international action. This research is particularly useful to provide a broader context of the crisis in Rwanda while the international community reacted to it amongst the many other conflicts taking place in Africa during the 1990s.
Moore, Jonathan. “Deciding Humanitarian Intervention.” Social Research, 74 (2007) : 169-200. Web. 14 Nov 2013.
Jonathan Moore analyzes the factors that lead to an international response to humanitarian crises in the world by specifically focusing on the cases of Somalia, Rwanda, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. He then provides analysis of important policy documents by the United States and the United Nations that act as guidelines as to when humanitarian interventions should occur and what these missions should entail. His research has a United States slant and doesn’t go too in-depth into the French intervention in Rwanda, but he makes an interesting claim that Rwanda may have been a situation where a unilateral unmandated intervention may have been the only way to successfully slow the genocide ravaging the country. He criticizes the speed of decision-making and deployment of UN mandated missions, which support the case for unilateral intervention by an organized and well-developed military.
“Murambi.” Genocide Archive Rwanda. Kigali Genocide Memorial Center. Web. Nov 29 2013.
Genocide Archive Rwanda is a collaborative project of several non-government organizations and the Rwandan government to provide documents and testimony of the Rwandan genocide. This article describes the Murambi massacre and the genocide memorial that was erected on its site. It notes that the massacre occurred within the French safe zone, although the French had yet to arrive in Rwanda at the time of the massacre. This suggests that negative sentiment exists amongst Rwandans towards the French because of their role in the genocide.
Ntambara, Paul. “Murambi: a vision lost.” The New Times [Kigali, Rwanda] 25 April 2009. Web. 29 Nov 2013.
Paul Ntambara writes about the new genocide museum opening at the site of the Murambi massacre and includes personal perspectives from local Rwandans. This article is important because it provides primary accounts of Rwandan sentiment towards the French. It also notes that the French attempted to cover up mass graves at Murambi, which suggests French complicity with genocidaires.
“Responsibility to Protect.” Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. United Nations. Web. 27 Nov 2013.
The Responsibility to Protect is an agreement that originated at the World Summit in 2005 and argues that sovereignty is a responsibility to provide for the welfare of all of a country’s citizens. When a government fails to take care of one’s citizens then the government forfeits its sovereignty and the international community has the responsibility to protect citizens from human rights violations. Although this passed after the Rwandan genocide, it’s important to know that the international community has moved in this direction towards intervention. Clearly, the Rwandan government had forfeited its right to sovereignty and the United Nations had a right to intervene to protect its citizens.
“Rwanda – UNAMIR – Background.” United Nations Peacekeeping. United Nations. Web. 27 Oct 2013.
The United Nations released this report on the background of the United Nations Mission for Rwanda as a general summary of the events that occurred in 1994. The UN Peacekeeping website has a record of all peacekeeping operations in its history. They provide a detailed timeline of events including the decision to authorize Operation Turquoise to intervene in the southeastern part of the country. Contrary to many other sources, the UN Report is not as critical of its decision to authorize the French intervention and justifies their action as a rational response to the lack of international support for an expanded UNAMIR.
Thakur, Ramesh. The United Nations, Peace and Security: From collective security to the responsibility to protect. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Print.
Ramesh Thakur analyzes the complexities the United Nations faces in providing peace and security in a modern context. Although he doesn’t go into detail regarding the Rwandan genocide he provides an in-depth background to the United Nations Security Council and a history of peacekeeping and humanitarian interventions. His research is useful in explaining the political structures within the Security Council that makes an effective humanitarian intervention more difficult to authorize.
U.N. Security Council, Resolution 929. 22 June 1994. Web. 02 Nov 2013.
Resolution 929 is the UN Security Council Resolution that authorized a multinational humanitarian intervention with the power to use force Chapter VII of the UN Charter. This primary document is important because it explains exactly what Operation Turquoise was allowed to do. The operation was to impartially provide security and protection to all people in Rwanda. They had permission to enter Rwanda without the consent of belligerent parties involved but the mission was to last no more than two months or until the UN had the necessary resources to take over. Interestingly, no names of countries were named in the report even though France was most likely to become involved in this operation. This source is important to my research because I can compare what the operation was allowed to do and what actually happened on the ground.
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