Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda

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Cornell University Press, 2003 - History - 215 pages
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Why was the UN a bystander during the Rwandan genocide? Do its sins of omission leave it morally responsible for the hundreds of thousands of dead? Michael Barnett, who worked at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations from 1993 to 1994, covered Rwanda for much of the genocide. Based on his first-hand experiences, archival work, and interviews with many key participants, he reconstructs the history of the UN's involvement in Rwanda. In the weeks leading up to the genocide, the author documents, the UN was increasingly aware or had good reason to suspect that Rwanda was a site of crimes against humanity. Yet it failed to act. In Eyewitness to a Genocide, Barnett argues that its indifference was driven not by incompetence or cynicism but rather by reasoned choices cradled by moral considerations.

Employing a novel approach to ethics in practice and in relationship to international organizations, Barnett offers an unsettling possibility: the UN culture recast the ethical commitments of well-intentioned individuals, arresting any duty to aid at the outset of the genocide. Barnett argues that the UN bears some moral responsibility for the genocide. Particularly disturbing is his observation that not only did the UN violate its moral responsibilities, but also that many in New York believed that they were "doing the right thing" as they did so. Barnett addresses the ways in which the Rwandan genocide raises a warning about this age of humanitarianism and concludes by asking whether it is possible to build moral institutions.

 

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Eyewitness to a genocide: the United Nations and Rwanda

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Students of government are familiar with Graham Allison's Essence of Decision, which used the Cuban Missile Crisis to show how bureaucratic politics influence policy making. Barnett, who served in ... Read full review

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With full respect to the writer of this book I humbly and most respectfully want to add regarding Page 117 - Line 7 to 14. These sentences need gross improvement. It is an excellent piece of work. But reality is clouded in some places. Thanks to my Camera and Recorder to revive my memories. I salute to Mr Micheal N Barnett. You work is admirable.
1. Belgian Battalion left Kigali much before than the Bangladeshi Battalion left Kigali - BANBAT left Kigali on 23 April 1994 with the order of United Nations.
2. Bangladeshi Battalion was the only battalion who could operate after 6th April in Rwanda and continue many tasks given by UNAMIR Force Head Quarter. Where the Belgium Battalion was ineffective. Because, they were the prime suspect for the killing of Rwandan president Habyarimana and the president of Burundi. Even the Ghanian Battalion asked help from Me Myself on 20th April to escort them crossing Kigali while I was operating in Kigali as BANBAT peace keeper. I have the records and photographs too.
3. Those 10 Belgium soldiers were killed near Airport. Not in camp Kigali. Their dead body were handed over to the UN from camp Kigali. It was a popular information in April 94, that those were the soldiers, responsible for firing a guided rocket at the plane, which was carrying the Rwandan president.
4. On 07 April 1994 at about 1pm. Belgian soldiers saved their life by getting inside BANBAT compound at Amahoro stadium and later sent to their battalion unharmed. They were supported by the Bangladeshi battalion to disengage from the Hutu mob and the Bangladeshi Battalion refrained the Hutu militia from persuading the Belgium soldiers.
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5. I was the Bangladeshi peace keeper standing there on 7April1994. Belgian soldiers saved their life by getting inside Bangladeshi compound. None of them were killed after being cornered by Rwandan.The Belgian soldiers were encircled by Hutu militia. The Bangladeshi peace keeper went to negotiate with the Hutu militia. The Belgian soldiers withdrawal from their vehicle and got inside BANBAT compound. That I have seen by my own eyes and brought them water to drink, once all of them were safely inside BANBAT compound at AMAHORO Stadium.
6. Gentlemen - readers; there are so many untold things; there were so many reasoning ----- That is why - today the Bangladesh is the highest troop contributing nation in UNPKO.
 

Contents

IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR
22
RWANDA THROUGH ROSECOLORED GLASSES
49
IF THIS IS AN EASY OPERATION
74
THE FOG OF GENOCIDE
97
DIPLOMATIC GAMES
130
THE HUNT FOR MORAL RESPONSIBILITY
153
BRIEF CHRONOLOGY OF RWANDAN CONFLICT
183
SELECTED CHRONOLOGY OF UNITED NATIONS SECURITY AGENDA
189
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
193
NOTES
197
INDEX
209
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About the author (2003)

Michael Barnett is University Professor of International Affairs and Political Science at The George Washington University.

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