20 Years Ago Today: Remembering Inaction in Genocide Response with Frustration

Today, I continue my 100 day series remembering the twentieth anniversary of Rwandan genocide. Please join me in prayer for those lives lost and impacted in this tragedy. #NeverAgain. LMH

Today’s entry on the Kwibuka20 Twitter feed points to frustration on the part of then UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali at the lack of a swift response to the Rwandan genocide:

If you dig a bit, it’s possible to find this article from the May 26, 1994 LA Times which gives us the details:

Boutros Boutros-Ghali

UNITED NATIONS — Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, bristling with anger and frustration, derided the international community Wednesday for talking but doing little else to stop genocide in Rwanda. He denounced the inaction as a scandal.

“All of us are responsible for this failure,” the secretary general told a news conference. “It is a genocide which has been committed. More than 200,000 people have been killed, and . . . the international community is still discussing what ought to be done.

“I have tried,” he said. “I have been in contact with different heads of state and begged them to send troops. . . . Unfortunately, let us say with great humility, I failed. It is a scandal. I am the first one to say it. And I am ready to repeat it.”

Although he never singled out the United States for criticism, Boutros-Ghali mocked the philosophy behind President Clinton’s recent policy directive on peacekeeping.

Under this policy, which U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright invoked last week to force the Security Council to delay the dispatch of 5,500 troops to Rwanda, the Clinton Administration insists that it will not approve peacekeeping operations until they are subjected to close scrutiny, including an assessment of their chances for success.

“We must accept that in certain operations we will not be successful,” Boutros-Ghali said. “And the fact that you are not successful in a certain operation must not be an obstacle to additional operations all over the world.

“It is like going to a hospital,” he said. “You cannot say, ‘I don’t want to take this case.’ There is a moral responsibility. The raison d’etre of this organization is to help member states solve peacefully their internal disputes and their international disputes.” Read the full article here.

It’s sort of eery to wander into the way-back-machine of the LA Times and try to remember May 26, 1994. It’s likely that we were all far more captivated by the big news of that day: the wedding of Michael Jackson (35) and Elvis’ daughter Lisa Marie Presley (26) in La Romana, Dominican Republic.

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