Describe the international response to the Rwandan Genocide.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that an overall description of the international community to the Rwandan Genocide can be considered one of inaction.  The international community seemed to feel that what was happening in Rwanda was internal, something that did not meet the qualifications for external intervention.  Information was relayed to the United States and the United Nations as to what was going to take place, but little in way of action was initiated as a result.  Much of the Western media framed the slaughter in Rwanda as the result of a civil war, domestic discord that did not warrant international intervention.  In framing the genocide in this manner, Western powers were able to excuse themselves from the moral and ethical need to act.  Professor Richard Robbins speaks to this point:

Perhaps there is no better case than Rwanda of state killing in which colonial history and global economic integration combined to produce genocide. It is also a case where the causes of the killing were carefully obscured by Western governmental and journalistic sources, blamed instead on the victims and ancient tribal hatreds.

The United States did use public statements to decry what was happening in Rwanda and advocated for the United Nations to take action, but the actions were minimal in the face of such intense brutality.  Other nations intervened, but only to get their own nationals out of the country.  The French did intervene, but in creating a safe zone, they were able to usher out the architects of the genocide, thereby helping their own alliances escape any sort of culpability for what was done.  As one assesses the international responses, there is a stunning lack of response to the crisis, reflecting how genocide can be easily dismissed as what Arendt would call "the banality of evil."

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