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UN Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Actions of the United Nations During the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda

Published December 16, 1999

This report on UN actions during the Rwandan genocide was released on December 16, 1999.

It states,

"Approximately 800,000 people were killed during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The systematic slaughter of men, women and children which took place over the course of about 100 days between April and July of 1994 will forever be remembered as one of the most abhorrent events of the twentieth century. Rwandans killed Rwandans, brutally decimating the Tutsi population of the country, but also targetting moderate Hutus. Appalling atrocities were committed, by militia and the armed forces, but also by civilians against other civilians.

The international community did not prevent the genocide, nor did it stop the killing once the genocide had begun. This failure has left deep wounds within Rwandan society, and in the relationship between Rwanda and the international community, in particular the United Nations. These are wounds which need to be healed, for the sake of the people of Rwanda and for the sake of the United Nations. Establishing the truth is necessary for Rwanda, for the United Nations and also for all those, wherever they may live, who are at risk of becoming victims of genocide in the future.

In seeking to establish the truth about the role of the United Nations during the genocide, the Independent Inquiry hopes to contribute to building renewed trust between Rwanda and the United Nations, to help efforts of reconciliation among the people of Rwanda, and to contribute to preventing similar tragedies from occurring ever again. The Inquiry has analysed the role of the various actors and organs of the United Nations system. Each part of that system, in particular the Secretary-General, the Secretariat, the Security Council and the Member States of the organisation, must assume and acknowledge their respective parts of the responsibility for the failure of the international community in Rwanda. Acknowledgement of responsibility must also be accompanied by a will for change: a commitment to ensure that catastrophes such as the genocide in Rwanda never occur anywhere in the future.

The failure by the United Nations to prevent, and subsequently, to stop the genocide in Rwanda was a failure by the United Nations system as a whole. The fundamental failure was the lack of resources and political commitment devoted to developments in Rwanda and to the United Nations presence there. There was a persistent lack of political will by Member States to act, or to act with enough assertiveness. This lack of political will affected the response by the Secretariat and decision-making by the Security Council, but was also evident in the recurrent difficulties to get the necessary troops for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR). Finally, although UNAMIR suffered from a chronic lack of resources and political priority, it must also be said that serious mistakes were made with those resources which were at the disposal of the United Nations .

In a letter dated 18 March 1999 (S/1994/339), the Secretary-General informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint an independent inquiry into the actions of the United Nations during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. In their reply (S/1999/340), the members of the Council expressed their support for the initiative in this unique circumstance. In May 1999, the Secretary-General appointed Mr Ingvar Carlsson (former Prime Minister of Sweden), Professor Han Sung-Joo (former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea) and Lieutenant-General Rufus M Kupolati (rtd.) (Nigeria) to conduct the inquiry.

The Independent Inquiry was given the mandate of establishing the facts related to the response of the United Nations to the genocide in Rwanda, covering the period October 1993 to July 1994, and to make recommendations to the Secretary-General on this subject. The present report is submitted pursuant to that mandate."

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