The Role of France in the Rwandan Genocide

September 2007 9781850658825 256pp


After the Holocaust, the victorious Allies pledged ‘Never Again’ to genocide. This promise, enshrined in the UN Convention on Genocide, stipulates a responsibility to try and prevent genocide or mitigate the suffering of its victims in the future. The book analyses what this responsibility might entail by asking the following questions: To what extent can external actors, such as the French Government, be held responsible for not preventing or not suppressing genocide, and how can this responsibility be evaluated? Why almost fifty years after the Genocide Convention did outsiders remain passive whilst Hutu extremists perpetrated genocide against the Tutsi minority and Hutu moderates in Rwanda? How can French government responsibility be evaluated in the light of its actions/inaction? What was France’s role? The book explores the historical and contextual background of the Rwandan genocide and French involvement in Africa, and then elaborates three key themes: the extent of French government’s information about the preparation of the genocide and its awareness of the scale of the potential disaster; the degree of involvement by the French government during and before the genocide; and the level of French diplomatic and military capability to halt or suppress both the preparations for genocide and the genocide itself. The Role of France in the Rwandan Genocide concludes by drawing the reader’s attention to the fact that the ‘Never Again’ pledge does not only incorporate a duty in terms of prevention and suppression of genocide. It also encompasses responsible policies towards a post-genocidal regime which might use the guilt of previously passive external actors to defend its own atrocities, such as Rwanda’s campaign in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


‘Kroslak has done a superb job looking systematically and analytically at the French responsibility in the Rwanda Genocide. … And provides the best analysis I have read on the motivations behind Operation Turquoise. … also provides key insights about the French policies at the UN HQ in New York and during the Arusha negotiations. …This book goes much further than just showing the disaster of French policy and proving French responsibility. It presents a fundamental set of questions regarding international responsibility and action against mass murder which are still relevant twelve years after. It is not an anti-French diatribe, and that’s why it is so strong. It is balanced and also highlights in conclusion the contradictions and inadequacies of American and British post-genocide policies.’ –– François Grignon


Daniela Kroslak is Africa Research Director of the NGO International Crisis Group. She is based in Nairobi.

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