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What sort of UN response to the Rwanda genocide could be justified under international human rights law?

Twenty one years ago, the world watched in horror as genocide unfolded in the African nation of Rwanda, as an estimated 800,000 people were killed. Six years after, according to the BBC (see article below) the United Nations accepted responsibility for failing to prevent the genocide. However, there are scholars who have argued that a UN intervention in Rwandan could have been difficult to justify at the time of the genocide.

What sort of UN response to the Rwanda genocide could be justified under international human rights law? With an understanding of the debate around what the international community could have done differently regarding the genocide, present, in about 1500 words, an original analysis of arguments for and against intervention, identifying which human rights theories, concepts, and instruments your arguments are based on.

Each page of the essay should be numbered; the essay should have a title page that clearly states your name, email contact, instructor’s name, course title, date, and word count. Please ensure that the essay is typed 12 points Times New Roman, double spaced. Kindly cite, very clearly, as end notes, the articles, books or other documents you consulted in writing this essay.

Please email me your essay, as a Microsoft word attachment or a PDF File, on or before 10 am on Thursday July 9, 2015. Marks will be deducted for late submission and essays may be returned ungraded.

The essay will be graded according to the criteria below:

1: Introduction: The introduction should explain succinctly the significance and context of the topic, what the key concepts are and provides an outline of the essay. It should not contain irrelevant background material.

2. Investigation: You should aim to use sources that present different theoretical approaches, as well as those that enable human rights issues to be understood from different cultural perspectives and contexts.

3: Knowledge and understanding of the topic: You should aim to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of human rights theories, concepts and practices, and your awareness of cultural and other contexts that may affect the ways that human rights theories, issues and practices are explained.

4: Reasoned argument: You should aim to present your ideas in the form of a logical and coherent argument that is relevant to the question. Ideas should be substantiated with factual evidence and examples. Straightforward descriptive or narrative accounts that lack analysis may not usually advance an argument. Demonstrate insight and depth of understanding by producing original, well-justified and substantiated arguments that directly address the question.

BBC News: UN admits Rwanda genocide failure (April 15, 2000)

The United Nations Security Council has explicitly accepted responsibility for failing to prevent the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed. In the first formal response to a report critical of the UN’s role, council members acknowledged its main finding that their governments lacked the political will to stop the massacres. Most of the 2,500 UN peacekeepers in Rwanda at the time were withdrawn after the deaths of 10 Belgian soldiers.

At a council debate, the Canadian Foreign Minister, Lloyd Axworthy, said none present could look back without remorse and sadness at the failure to help the people of Rwanda in their time of need. “The unchecked brutality of the genocidaires made a mockery, once again, of the pledge ‘never again,'” he said, referring to the promise made after the Holocaust.

The council stopped short an all-out apology similar to the one delivered by Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt one week ago in Kigali. Instead, the 15 council members focused on the lessons to be learned from their failure to act, particularly in Africa where wars continue to rage. US Ambassador Richard Holbrooke said: “The prevention of another round of genocidal violence in central Africa is one of the core elements of US policy in the Great Lakes, and is one of the United Nations’ greatest challenges.”

“In the days ahead, how we act to help bring peace to Congo will be the best evidence that we’ve learned the lessons of our past failures,” he said. Rwanda’s UN Ambassador, Joseph Mutaboba, welcomed the report and its recommendations but said the council could do more. “It’s never too late to make things right,” he said. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who was head of UN peacekeeping operations in 1994, commissioned the report and was out for criticism for not passing on warnings about the impending genocide.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/714025.stm


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