Accessed 16 May 2000


15 DECEMBER 1999

Part Ia

Part I  Part II Part III  Part IV  Part V

Description of Key Events (Contd.)

The crash of the Presidential plane; genocide begins
Withdrawal of the Belgian contingent

The continued role of UNAMIR

New proposals on the mandate of UNAMIR

UNAMIR II established

Operation Turquoise

The crash of the Presidential plane; genocide begins

On 6 April 1994, President Habyarimana and the President of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira, flew back from a subregional summit under the auspices of the facilitator of the Arusha process, Tanzania's President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, According to Tanzanian officials, the talks in Dar es Salaam had been successful and President Habyarimana had committed himself to the implementation of the Arusha Agreement. The Inquiry's interlocutors in Tanzania stated that they had encouraged Habyarimana to delay his return to Rwanda until the following day, but he had insisted on returning the same evening. He also invited the President of Burundi to accompany him on his plane.

According to UNAMIR's report to Headquarters, at approximately 20.30, the plane was shot down as it was coming in to land in Kigali. The plane exploded and everyone on board was killed. By 21.18, the Presidential Guard had set up the first of many roadblocks. Within hours, further road-blocks were set up by the Presidential Guards, the Interahamwe, sometimes members of the Rwandan Army, and the gendarmerie. UNAMIR was placed on red alert at about 21.30.

According to UNAMIR's records, at 22.10, Dallaire briefed Riza by phone about the developments. During the night, Dallaire attended a meeting at the RGF Headquarters together with Colonel Luc Marchal, the Kigali Sector commander of UNAMIR. The meeting was chaired by the Chief of Staff of the Gendarmerie, Major-General Augustin Ndindilyamana, with the participation of among others Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, who Dallaire described as being in "the position of authority." According to Dallaire, Bagosora stated at the meeting that what had occurred was not a coup d'etat, that the officers present were establishing interim control. A warning sign in the line taken by Bagosora and the others were their dismissal of the authority of the Prime Minister, Mrs Agathe Uwilingiyimana, and their refusal to allow her to speak to the nation by radio as both Dallaire and Booh Booh insisted. The meeting at the RGF Headquarters was followed by a meeting at Booh Booh's residence with Bagosora and the RGF's liaison officer.

Dallaire has subsequently stated that he gave Marchal the following brief: "assisting in the maintenance of the security situation in Kigali with the Gendarmerie in order to try to maintain a state of calm and to avoid any other KWSA violations." Dallaire wrote that he confirmed "the need for a patrol to secure the crash site, for an enhancement of the security at PM Agathe's house and to escort her to the radio station, if and when the Force Commander could assist in getting the stations to allow her to address the nation."

Efforts by UNAMIR to reach the crash site were blocked, with the patrol which had been sent to investigate it being stopped, disarmed and held at the airport during the early hours of 7 April. At 02.45, Dallaire reported that the head of the French military mission and another officer arrived and stated that they had directions from Paris to ensure a qualified investigation of the crash, which Dallaire assured them would take place. The French representatives offered the use of a military technical team present in Bangui, Central African Republic.

After the crash, UNAMIR received a number of calls from ministers and other politicians asking for UNAMIR's protection. Early in the morning of 7 April, the number of guards at the Prime Minister's home was increased. A group of Belgian soldiers led by Lt Lotin were dispatched from the airport to the Prime Minister's residence after 02.00 (03.00 according to the Board of Inquiry set up by UNAMIR), arriving at the Prime Minister's residence about three hours later. According to Belgian sources, at 06.55 (07.15 according to Board of Inquiry), Lt Lotin informed his contingent that he was surrounded by about 20 Rwandan soldiers armed with guns and grenades, and that members of the presidential guard were requiring the Belgians to lay down their arms. His commander had told him not to do this.

During the morning the Prime Minister fled over the wall from her residence and sought refuge at the United Nations Volunteer (UNV) compound in Kigali. According to an eyewitness account by a UNV who was present, the Prime Minister, her husband and five children all arrived in the compound between 7.30 and 08.00 (somewhat later according to UNAMIR's report to Headquarters). The Prime Minister took refuge in a different house from her family. The UNVs informed Mr. Le Moal, the acting designated security official, at about 08.30. According to Dallaire's report to Headquarters, he called Riza at 09.20 to inform him that UNAMIR might have to use force to save the Prime Minister. Riza confirmed the rules of engagement: that UNAMIR was not to fire until fired upon. An armed escort which had been sent to rescue the Prime Minister was blocked on the way.

Again according to the eyewitness account, at about 10.00, Rwandan soldiers entered into the UNV compound, while the UNVs were on the phone to the designated official, threatened the UNVs and stating that they were only seeking one person. After searching the compound, the soldiers eventually found the Prime Minister, who was shot at the back of the compound.

Dallaire arrived at the compound at about 12.30 according to the UNV report, and promised to return with armed vehicles to evacuate the UNVs. In fact, it was only after 17.15, that the UNVs were finally evacuated to the Mille Collines Hotel by a convoy organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) designated official.

The tragic killing of the Belgian peacekeepers took place against a backdrop of an escalated confrontation with Rwandan soldiers outside the Prime Minister's house. Several times that morning, the soldiers guarding the Prime Minister were told by the Rwandese soldiers surrounding them to surrender their arms. According to Belgian records, at 08.49, Lt Lotin was told by his commander, Lt Col Dewez, that his group should not let themselves be disarmed, and to negotiate, to which Lotin replied that it was too late because four men were already disarmed. Dewez then stated that Lotin was authorized to surrender arms if he felt it necessary. The UNAMIR troops were subsequently taken by minibus to Camp Kigali. Lotin borrowed the Motorola of the Togolese military observer at the camp in order to inform Dewez about the situation, also stating that his men risked being lynched. Dewez, having first asked whether Lotin was not exaggerating, then informed his Sector Command and asked that the Rwandan army or Rutbat (the Bangladeshi battalion) intervene. Meanwhile, however, in Camp Kigali, the United Nations peacekeepers were badly beaten, and later, after the Ghanaian peacekeepers and the Togolese had been led away, the Belgian soldiers were brutally killed.

Dallaire stated in his submission to the Belgian senate inquiry that, while being driven past Camp Kigali with a Rwandan major as driver, he "caught a brief glimpse of what I thought were a couple of soldiers in Belgian uniforms on the ground in the Camp, approximately 60 metres. I did not know whether they were dead or injured, however I remember the shock of realizing that we now had taken casualties." Dallaire said he ordered the RGF officer to stop the car, but that the Rwandan driver refused. Having arrived at the Military School, Dallaire spoke to the Togolese observer, who he said told him about Belgian soldiers being held at Camp Kigali and being abused or beaten up.

Dallaire stated in the same submission that he did not believe that there was a military option to intervene, and that he himself was prevented from going to Camp Kigali, by the driver and then later on by Bagosora, with whom the situation of the Belgian peacekeepers was raised at about 14.00, when they met at the Ministry for Defence. Dallaire stated that, at about 21.00, he was told that the Belgians had been killed. Dallaire then proceeded to Kigali hospital morgue, where the bodies of the Belgian soldiers had been left.

Dallaire informed the Belgian Senate commission that an armed operation to rescue the Belgians was not feasible because of the high risk of casualties to those who would intervene, and the high potential for failure of the operation. Describing the shortcomings and lack of resources of UNAMIR, Dallaire did not believe he had forces capable of conducting an intervention in favour of the Belgians: "The UNAMIR mission was a peacekeeping operation. It was not equipped, trained or staffed to conduct intervention operations."

In the morning of 7 April, members of the Presidential Guard also attacked the house of the Vice-President of the Liberal Party (PL) and Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Mr Landoald Ndasingwa. Ndasingwa was one of the opposition politicians whom UNAMIR had been guarding for months, and had been the subject of propaganda and threats on the Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM). According to testimony of the family and an employee of the Ndasingwa family, at about 06.30, one of the Rwandan policemen guarding the house was told by police guarding the nearby house of the President of the Constitutional Court, Mr Joseph Kavaruganda, that the Presidential Guards were on its way to come and kill Ndasingwa. Upon hearing this, Ndasingwa reportedly asked the RGF guards outside his house to seek reinforcements. Having done so, however, the family stated that it was discovered that the Ghanaian UNAMIR troops guarding Ndasingwa had fled into a neighbouring property without any prior explanation to Ndasingwa. About 30 – 40 minutes later, according to a witness, about 20 members of the Presidential Guards came to the house, armed with light weapons. After searching the house, they shot Mr Ndasingwa, his wife, mother and two children.

The same morning, Judge Kavaruganda was abducted from his home. Kavaruganda also had UNAMIR guards. When Rwandese soldiers came to his house asking him to accompany them, Judge Kavaruganda, fearing for his life, refused, and locked himself in the house with his wife and two of his children. According to Mrs Kavaruganda, the United Nations troops outside stood talking to the Rwandese, with their weapons lying on a table beside them. Inside the house, meanwhile, Judge Kavaruganda made various phone calls to the Belgian, Bangladeshi and Ghanaian contingents of UNAMIR, asking for help. Although he received assurances that reinforcements would arrive, none did. Eventually, the Rwandese soldiers outside broke down the front door. Judge Kavaruganda was taken away, his family beaten and mistreated. According to Mrs Kavaruganda, the United Nations guards did nothing to prevent the abduction or the beatings.

During the course of its mandate, UNAMIR received information about threats against a number of politicians and prominent civil servants. In the cases of Ndasingwa and Kavaruganda, an internal memorandum from the mission's military intelligence officer to Dallaire dated 17 February 1994 contained specific information that a plot existed by named members of the so-called "Death Esquadron" to kill them. According to Dallaire, after the 17 February, in addition to the personal armed bodyguards of the politicians plus the armed UNAMIR vehicle escorts, a section of at least 5 armed UNAMIR soldiers was provided at the residence of each politician.

Another politician with a UNAMIR guard was the former Foreign Minister during the Arusha negotiations, Mr Boniface Ngulinzira. According to his wife, Mrs Florida Ngulinzira, at about 07.30, the UN guards outside his house informed Ngulinzira that Ndasingwa had been killed, and that they believed that political massacres had begun. A phone call from the Prime Minister Designate, Mr Faustin Twagiramungu, confirmed that elements of the Presidential Guards were seeking out politicians. According to Mrs Ngulinzira, the United Nations soldiers at that point asked the family to get into a truck, where they were covered by a tarpaulin, and driven away from their house. Upon arrival they discovered that they had been taken to the Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO) at Kicukiro, a suburb of Kigali.

ETO was a site where many civilians sought the protection of the Belgian UNAMIR troops stationed there. The Inquiry met with a number of survivors from the tragic events at ETO, which in Rwanda have gained symbolic importance as an example of the failings of the United Nations Mission. About 2,000 people had sought refuge at ETO, believing that the UNAMIR troops would be able to protect them. There were members of the Interahamwe and Rwandan soldiers outside the school complex. On 11 April, after the expatriates in ETO had been evacuated by French troops, the Belgian contingent at ETO left the school, leaving behind men, women and children, many of whom were massacred by the waiting soldiers and militia.

Mr Ngulinzira asked the French troops to evacuate him from ETO but was refused. In massacres in the aftermath of the departure of the UNAMIR troops, he was killed.

Within a couple of days of the crash of the Presidential plane, national evacuation operations were mounted by Belgium, France, Italy and the United States. The operations were undertaken with the aim of evacuating expatriates. The Force Commander informed Headquarters of the arrival of the first three French aircraft during the early hours of the morning of 8 April. In a cable dated 9 April from Annan (Riza), Dallaire was requested to "cooperate with both the French and Belgian commanders to facilitate the evacuation of their nationals, and other foreign nationals requesting evacuation. You may exchange liaison officers for this purpose. You should make every effort not to compromise your impartiality or to act beyond your mandate but may exercise your discretion to do should this be essential for the evacuation of foreign nationals. This should not, repeat not, extend to participating in possible combat, except in self-defence."

Withdrawal of the Belgian contingent

The Secretary-General met the Foreign Minister of Belgium, Mr Willy Claes, in Bonn on 12 April. In the minutes of the United Nations from the conversation, Claes' message to the United Nations was described as follows: "The requirements to pursue a peacekeeping operation in Rwanda were no longer met, the Arusha peace plan was dead, and there were not means for a dialogue between the parties; consequently, the UN should suspend UNAMIR." Claes said he had information that the Ghanaian contingent had fled, leaving UNAMIR with only 1,500 troops (which was not correct). He continued, saying that "a withdrawal of UNAMIR could be seen as exacerbating the risk of an all-out civil war. However, UNAMIR had been unable to stop the killings until now and 20,000 had died despite its presence." In response to the Secretary-General's comment that he had sent a letter to the Security Council, asking for more troops and a change of the mandate for UNAMIR, and that he did not think that the Council would accept a withdrawal of UNAMIR, Claes stated that Belgium had to make a choice and had decided to withdraw its units from Rwanda. It preferred the withdrawal to be collective effort of UNAMIR, and would not like to withdraw alone.

According to the minutes of the meeting in the archives of the United Nations, Claes also stated that Belgium would be prepared to leave its weapons and equipment behind if UNAMIR were to stay.

The Secretary-General informed the Security Council about the Belgian position in a letter on 13 April. The letter stated that it would be extremely difficult for UNAMIR to carry out its tasks effectively. The continued discharge by UNAMIR of its mandate would "become untenable" unless the Belgian contingent was replaced by an equally well equipped contingent or unless Belgium reconsidered its decision. On the same day the Belgian Permanent Representative to the United Nations wrote directly to the Council. After a graphic description of the seriousness of the situation, speaking of "widespread massacres" and "chaos," the Permanent Representative argued that since the implementation of the Arusha Peace Agreement was seriously jeopardized, the entire UNAMIR operation should be suspended. It is the understanding of the Inquiry that in addition to this and subsequent letters to the Council, the Belgian Government conducted a campaign of high level démarches with Council members in order to get the Council to withdraw UNAMIR.

The continued role of UNAMIR

DPKO elaborated two draft options, which were sent to UNAMIR for comments and to the Secretary-General in Madrid for approval on 13 April:

1) to keep UNAMIR, minus the Belgian contingent, for a period of three weeks . Several conditions were placed on applying this option, among them the existence of an effective cease-fire, each side accepting responsibility for law and order and the security of civilians in areas under their control, declaring Kigali airport a neutral territory and concentrating UNAMIR to the airport. Parties would be warned that unless agreement was not secured by 6 May, UNAMIR would be withdrawn.

2) to immediately reduce UNAMIR and maintain only a small political presence of the Special Representative, advisers, some military observers and a company of troops.

Dallaire responded expressing support for option 1. The Secretary-General's Senior Political Adviser and Special Representative on the Council, Ambassador Chinmaya Gharekhan, informed Annan in a handwritten code cable on 14 April that the Secretary-General's preference was the first option, and in the event that no progress was achieved, to proceed to the second option. Gharekhan emphasized, with reference to the letters to the Council of 8 and 13 April, that the Secretary-General "at no stage" had recommended or favoured withdrawal. The cable continued: "Abrupt, total withdrawal not feasible nor desirable or wise."

In a separate cable on 14 April, Dallaire made clear the dire consequences of the Belgian withdrawal, which he described as a "terrible blow to the mission".

On 13 April, Nigeria had presented a draft resolution in the Security Council on behalf of the Non-Aligned Caucus advocating a strengthening of UNAMIR. The next day, the Secretary-General's options were presented orally to the Council by Riza. Both options were described as being predicated on a cease-fire. A combination of the two options was also mentioned as a possibility and as the Secretary-General's own preferred option.

By the following day, the positions among the Members of the Council had been modified somewhat. Nigeria now argued in favour of option 1. According to the Secretariat's record, the United States initially stated that if a decision were to be taken then, it would only accept a withdrawal of UNAMIR, as it believed there was no useful role for a peacekeeping operation in Rwanda under the prevailing circumstances." The United Kingdom and Russia supported the second option, and in further consultations, the United States indicated it too could accept this alternative.

The statement by the President of the Council to the press on 15 April is telling of the atmosphere in the Council at the time. The statement makes no mention of the ongoing massacres. It states that the "immediate priority in Rwanda is the establishment of a cease-fire between the Government forces and the RPF." The Council demanded that the parties agree to an immediate cease-fire and return to the negotiating table and reaffirmed the Arusha Peace Agreement as the only viable framework for the resolution of the Rwanda conflict.

Maintaining UNAMIR's presence continued to be linked to the efforts to achieve a cease-fire. On 18 April, Annan (Riza) sent a cable where this issue was brought to a head. DPKO argued that since there did not seem to be any real prospects of a cease-fire in the coming days, it was their intention to report to the Council that a total withdrawal of UNAMIR needed to be envisaged rather than the two options which had been presented. Booh Booh and Dallaire were asked for their final assessment of achieving a cease-fire.

Dallaire responded on 19 April arguing in favour of keeping a force of 250 as a minimum presence, and against a total withdrawal: "A wholesale withdrawal of UNAMIR would most certainly be interpreted as leaving the scene if not even deserting the sinking ship." He also pointed to the risk of dangerous reactions against UNAMIR in the case of a withdrawal.

Dallaire painted the following picture of the dilemma facing the UN under the scenarios being discussed: "The consequences of a withdrawal by UNAMIR will definitely have an adverse affect [sic] on the morale of the civil population, especially the refugees, who will feel that we are deserting them. However, in actual fact, there is little that we are doing at the present time except providing security, some food and medicine and a presence. Humanitarian assistance has not really commenced. /…/ The refugees at locations like Hotel Mille Collines, the Red Cross, St Michels Cathedral etc. in RGF territory are in danger of massacre, but have been in this danger without result so far for the last week even with UNAMIR on the ground."

By 19 April, the Secretariat's line had changed significantly: the draft of a report by the Secretary-General to the Security Council which had been prepared now included three options: to strengthen UNAMIR, to reduce its strength or to withdraw completely. The cable with which the draft was sent to Kigali states that "the option of strengthening UNAMIR was decided upon in the evening here leading to our belated request to you to hold up the movement of personnel scheduled for departure tomorrow."

Booh Booh on 20 April expressed full support for what had become option 1, the reinforcement of the mandate and strength of UNAMIR, but also said he did i.a. "not have problems with amended option II." Concerning the latter alternative, however, Booh Booh had reservations about the remaining component being headed by the Force Commander – both he and the Commander should stay in Kigali.

On the same day, as the Council was preparing to move ahead to a decision, the Ambassador of Nigeria, Mr Ibrahim A. Gambari, met with the Secretary-General. Gambari asked Boutros-Ghali to counter moves in the Security Council to withdraw UNAMIR. The Secretary-General, who said he felt as though he was "fighting alone", pressed the Ambassador to encourage African Heads of State to rally behind his position and to write letters against a withdrawal.

On 21 April, the Council voted unanimously to reduce UNAMIR to about 270 and to change the mission's mandate. The resolution stated that the Council was "appalled at the ensuing large-scale violence in Rwanda, which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children …"

In the informal consultations which preceded the adoption of resolution 912 (1994), a few Council members reportedly expressed disappointment that the report did not include a recommendation on the part of the Secretary-General (who has stated, however, that his spokesman orally expressed the Secretary-General's preference for a strengthening of the mandate). Nigeria stated that the NAM Caucus had a preference for option 1, but could not support it because of the lack of political will. According to the Secretariat, the United Kingdom responded by stating that option 1 was not feasible because of the lesson drawn from Somalia that conditions on the ground could evolve rapidly and dangerously.

New proposals on the mandate of UNAMIR

By the end of April, however, the disastrous situation in Rwanda made the Secretary-General recommend a reversal of the decision to reduce the force level. Boutros-Ghali's letter to the Security Council of 29 April (S/1994/518) provided an important shift in emphasis – from viewing the role of the United Nations as that of neutral mediator in a civil war to recognising the need to bring to an end the massacres against civilians, which had by then been going on for three weeks and were estimated to have killed some 200,000 people. The Secretary-General stated that the mandate contained in resolution 912 (1994) did not give UNAMIR the power to take effective action to halt the massacres. The Council was asked to reconsider its previous decisions and to consider "what action, including forceful action, it could take, or could authorize Member States to take in order to restore law and order." In a biting final remark, the Secretary-General wrote that he was aware "that such action would require a commitment of human and material resources on a scale which Member States have so far proved reluctant to contemplate."

The following day, the Security Council issued a Presidential Statement (S/PRST/1994/21). The Council did not at that stage respond to the substance of the Secretary General's letter, and instead promised to do so at a later stage. Otherwise the statement can be noted as a small step in the direction of a clearer stand by the Council against the ongoing genocide. The Council pointed out that the killings of civilians had "especially" taken place in areas under the control of members or supporters of the interim Government of Rwanda (whose representative was still participating in the deliberations of the Council). The Council could still not agree on using the term genocide, but circumvented the issue by including an almost direct quote from the Genocide Convention in the text. Finally, the statement also included a reference to the possibility of an arms embargo being imposed.

Notes on the discussions within the Security Council in the days following the Secretary-General's letter show a body divided on a number of issues: on whether an intervention should take place, and if so, how to describe the strength of the action (countries such as Brazil, China and the United Kingdom are reported to have argued against too strong an "interventionist" wording regarding the role of the United Nations), the possible role of regional actors, the question of the arms embargo. On 3 May, the United States gained some support for an idea to send a Security Council team to the region to seek information about the situation, an idea that the United Kingdom objected to, and which was not pursued.

According to the Secretariat's notes, two days later, the Nigerian President of the Council put pressure on his colleagues to act, reportedly saying that the Council risked becoming the laughing stock of the world if it did not. He expressed concern about the "chicken and egg" situation which he felt had arisen between the Secretary-General and African countries, since the Secretary-General sought African action against the killing, while the African countries wanted more information about the size and cost of the planned force, as well as the logistical support that would be available, before making commitments. The French representative felt that the Council should focus on humanitarian assistance, with the idea of humanitarian corridors being one possibility.

The Council President suggested that the Council write to the Secretary-General asking him to submit contingency planning to the Council and a recommendation on the mandate of an expanded United Nations presence. At the suggestion of the United Kingdom, the request was not formalized but worded as a request for a non-paper. The following day, agreement was reached on a letter to the Secretary-General, which requested indicative contingency planning, but also – strangely – stated that the members of the Council did not expect any firm or definitive recommendations.

The draft concept of operations for a future UNAMIR mandate which was outlined in a cable from Booh Booh on 6 May was explicit about the situation of the civilian population: "The civil war has intensified and spread throughout the country and massacres of innocent civilians appear to be continuing, especially in the countryside /.../ The steadily worsening situation raises serious questions about the effectiveness and viability of UNAMIR's revised mandate, UNAMIR neither has the power nor the resources to take effective action to end the large-scale killings of civilians and to help establish a reasonably secure environment, essential conditions for the resumption of dialogue which would facilitate efforts to conclude a cease-fire agreement and to put the cease-fire." In this cable from UNAMIR the priority was clear: UNAMIR should first and foremost be enabled to stop the killings, and secondly continue efforts to reach a cease-fire. This is an important shift in relation to the priorities indicated in the early correspondence between Kigali and Headquarters, a change that came a month after the start of the killings.

The non-paper actually presented to the Council on 9 May was less explicit about the ongoing massacres, and certainly more vague regarding a role for UNAMIR in stopping the killing. Where UNAMIR's above-mentioned draft concept of operations had stated that the mission should be empowered "to take effective and speedy measures to stop the killings of innocent civilians", the final version of the non-paper said UNAMIR was to "ensure safe conditions for displaced and other persons in need, including refugees ...". The non-paper also explicitly stated that the revised mandate would not envisage enforcement actions, would depend primarily on deterrence to carry out its tasks and would resort to force only in self-defence. The non-paper stated that a force of 5,500, including five infantry battalions, would be a minimum viable force for a strengthened UNAMIR. The mission's tasks were summarized as being "to provide support and ensure safety for displaced and other affected persons and for the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance."

In a press statement about the non-paper on 12 May, the RPF found the minimum force level too large: a mission of the original size (2,500) was preferred. The RPF stated that the only areas in Rwanda where people might need United Nations protection were in the south-western areas under RGF control.

When the Council started discussing the non-paper on 11 May, the Secretariat reported to the Secretary-General that several members had expressed support for the concept in the non-paper. Without actually objecting to that concept, the United States highlighted a wish to explore the possibility of creating a "protective zone along the Rwandan border with an international force to provide security to populations". The US representative stated that such a mission might require fewer troops and be less complex than some of the other proposals being discussed. However, the idea of protective zones around the borders drew criticisim from Dallaire in a cable dated 12 May.

On 13 May, the Secretary-General formalized his recommendations in a report to the Security Council, which outlined the phased deployment of UNAMIR II up to a strength of 5,500, emphasizing the need for haste in getting the troops into the field. The above-mentioned differences continued. The final day of consultations focussed largely on amendments presented by the United States to the draft resolution. The United States proposals contained i.a. an explicit reference to the need for the parties' consent, the postponement of later phases of deployment pending further decisions in the Council and requirement that the Secretary-General return to the Council with a refined concept of operations, including among other elements the consent of the parties and available resources.

According to the Secretariat's notes, a number of delegations questioned the advisability of seeking clear consent from the parties. France and New Zealand had difficulties with the concept of deploying only a small number of military observers and one infantry battalion and delaying the rest of the deployment, as proposed by the United States. After a number of hours of consultations, the Council was able to produce the draft which was subsequently adopted.

UNAMIR II established

The Council adopted resolution 918 (1994) on 17 May 1994. The resolution included a decision to increase the number of troops in UNAMIR, and imposed an arms embargo on Rwanda. Rwanda voted against the latter decision, a clear example of the problematic issue of principle raised by the Rwandan membership of the Council.

Following the adoption of the resolution, efforts concentrated on finding the necessary troops to fill the five battalion strong force authorized by the Council. The Secretariat held a number of meetings with potential troop contributors, Booh Booh travelled to key African countries to seek contributions to UNAMIR, and the Secretary-General contacted a number of African Heads of State himself and enlisted the help of the Secretary-General of the OAU in an effort to mobilise offers of troops. However, the response was meager. A few African countries signalled some willingness to contribute, provided they received financial and logistical assistance in order to do so. By 25 July, over two months after resolution 918 (1994) was adopted, UNAMIR still only had 550 troops, a tenth of the authorized strength. Thus the lack of political will to react firmly against the genocide when it began was compounded by a lack of commitment by the broader membership of the United Nations to provide the necessary troops in order to permit the United Nations to try to stop the killing.

The newly appointed High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr José Ayala Lasso, visited Rwanda on 11 – 12 May 1994. The High Commissioner visited Kigali and Byumba and spoke both to representatives of the so-called Interim Government and the RPF. His report to the Commission on Human Rights was published on 19 May 1994 (E/CN.4/S-3/3). While Ayala Lasso stated that more than 200,000 civilians had been killed and called for strong condemnation of those killings, the High Commissioner stopped at characterizing the situation as one where "extremely serious violations of human rights had taken place" and were continuing. His recommendations were directed at both parties. Ayala Lasso did not mention the word genocide other than in a reference to the Convention as one international human rights instrument to which Rwanda was a party. Ayala Lasso proposed the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Rwanda, assisted by human rights monitors.

In a further report based on the same trip, which was sent to the Security Council on 21 July 1994 (S/1994/867), Ayala Lasso pointed out that several hundreds of thousands had been killed. He cited evidence that suggested that killings by Government forces were planned and concerted, and mentioned incitement to violence and killings by Radio Rwanda and RTLM. At the same time, he mentioned reports of killings "by forces of either side of civilians" and summary executions by RPF forces, "in what was described as acts of revenge."

The Secretary-General met on 16 May with Booh Booh and key Secretariat officials, including Annan and Goulding to discuss developments in Rwanda. Afterwards, the Secretary-General issued a press statement, which i.a. reaffirmed his support for Booh Booh, who had been facing accusations of partiality from the RPF for some time.

On 18 May, the Secretary-General wrote to a number of African Heads of State and Government, requesting troops for UNAMIR II. He informed the Secretary-General of the OAU of this in a letter dated the same day, part of a correspondence between the two Secretaries-General related to the role of the United Nations since the beginning of the genocide.

On 20 May, Annan forwarded a request from the Secretary-General to Booh Booh that he base himself in Nairobi for the following weeks and consult with governments in the region and to seek their support in the implementation of resolution 918 (1994).

In order to follow-up resolution 918 (1994), the Secretary-General also sent Riza and Baril to Rwanda, among other things to try to move the parties towards a cease-fire and to discuss the implementation of resolution 918 (1994). The special mission to the region took place between 22 and 27 May. In a report to the Security Council dated 31 May, the Secretary-General presented his conclusions based on that mission. The report includes a vivid description of the horrors of the weeks since the beginning of the genocide, referring to a "frenzy of massacres" and an estimate that between 250,000 and 500,000 had been killed. Significantly, the report stated that the massacres and killings had been systematic, and that there was "little doubt" that what had happened constituted genocide.

The report includes a retrospective reference to the information which had been available to the Secretariat regarding developments in Rwanda before the genocide and which had guided its analysis: Para. 11 states that "In this context, the Security Council should be made aware of certain events that, in retrospect, might have had implications regarding the massacres. Between December 1993 and March 1994, UNAMIR took note on several occasions of inflammatory broadcasts by Radio Mille Collines and suspicious movements by armed groups, apparently include [sic] the Interahamwe, and cautioned the provisional Government in both respects. UNAMIR also received evidence that arms were being brought into the country and protested to the provisional Government and also conveyed this information to the diplomatic community." In what would seem to be a reference to the Dallaire cable of 11 January 1994, the report continued: "On one occasion the Force Commander requested Headquarters for permission to use force to recover a cache of arms and was instructed to insist that the Gendarmerie conduct the operation under UNAMIR supervision."

The Secretary-General's report outlined a plan for the three-phased deployment of UNAMIR II, whereby phases 1 and 2 were to be initiated immediately in a synchronized manner. The plan foresaw different scenarios for deployment, including a situation where cease-fire was not in place. The two primary tasks of UNAMIR II were described as (a) To attempt to assure the security of as many assemblies as possible of civilians who are under threat and (b) To provide security, as required, to humanitarian relief operations.

The report's final observations were bitter: "The delay in reaction by the international community to the genocide in Rwanda has demonstrated graphically its extreme inadequacy to respond urgently with prompt and decisive action to humanitarian crises entwined with armed conflict. Having quickly reduced UNAMIR to a minimum presence on the ground, since its original mandate did not allow it to take action when the carnage started, the international community appears paralysed in reacting almost two months later even to the revised mandate established by the Security Council. We must all realize that, in this respect, we have failed in our response to the agony of Rwanda, and thus have acquiesced in the continued loss of human lives."

The RPF wrote a letter to the Secretary-General dated 3 June, which responded positively to the reference to genocide in the Secretary-general's latest report, and called on the Security Council to declare that the atrocities were a genocide. The letter also called on the Security Council to adopt a resolution endorsing the jamming or destruction of Radio Milles Collines. Furthermore, the RPF called on the Secretary-General and the Council to take measures to suspend Rwanda from the Council.

On 8 June, the Security Council adopted resolution 925 (1994), which endorsed the Secretary-General's proposals on the deployment of UNAMIR under its expanded mandate and extended the mission's mandate until 9 December 1994. The resolution also urged Member States to respond promptly to the Secretary-General's request for resources, including logistical support capability for rapid deployment of additional forces. The draft had originally been presented by the United States. According to notes from the consultations, the original draft's use of the word genocide was changed to "acts of genocide" as a compromise after China objected to use of the term genocide on its own.

Operation Turquoise

In a letter dated 19 June to the Security Council (S/1994/728), the Secretary General outlined the results of the efforts to put in place UNAMIR II, which at that time still only had a total force of 503. The Secretary-General stated that the first phase of deployment of UNAMIR II in the best of circumstances would only be able to take place in the first week of July. Mentioning the ongoing killings, the Secretary-General went on to suggest that the Council consider the offer by France to conduct a multinational operation under Chapter VII "to assure the security and protection of displaced persons and civilians at risk in Rwanda."

This offer by France, together with Senegal, was formally set out in a letter from the Permanent Representative of France to the President of the Security Council dated 20 June 1994. The operation is described as one aiming to "maintain a presence pending the arrival of the expanded UNAMIR /…/ The objectives assigned to that force would be the same ones assigned to UNAMIR by the Security Council, i.e. contributing to the security and protection of displaced persons, refugees and civilians in danger in Rwanda, by means, including the establishment and maintenance, where possible, of safe humanitarian areas." France sought a resolution under Chapter VII "as a legal framework for their intervention."

Also on that day, the Security Council adopted resolution 928 (1994) extending the mandate of UNOMUR for three months, and also deciding that the mission would be reduced during that period.

On 20 June, Dallaire sent a long cable to Headquarters outlining a number of potential issues of concern regarding the proposed Operation Turquoise, including the consequences for those troops within UNAMIR who were of the same nationality as contingents in the French-led force.

The Security Council held consultations on the French initiative on 20 – 22 June. France introduced a draft resolution on 20 June. The Secretary-General participated in informal consultations on 22 June. According to the United Nations notes from the consultations, the Secretary-General argued in favour of an urgent decision to authorize the French-led operation. Later that day, the Council adopted resolution 929 (1994), the vote resulting in 10 votes in favour and 5 abstentions (Brazil, China, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan).

On 1 July 1994, the Council adopted resolution 935 (1994), requesting the Secretary-General to establish an impartial Commission of Experts, which was to provide the Secretary-General with its conclusions "on the evidence of grave violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda, including the evidence of possible acts of genocide."

Also on 1 July, the Permanent Representative of France informed the Secretary-General in a letter, which was forwarded to the Security Council in document S/1994/798, that fighting had intensified, and that the situation in the South West "could quickly become completely uncontrollable". According to the French Ambassador, the situation required an immediate cease-fire. Halting the fighting was the only truly effective way to stabilize the humanitarian situation, and bring about a political settlement on the basis of the Arusha Agreement "from which those responsible for the massacres and, in particular, acts of genocide, must, of course, be excluded." Without a cease-fire, France saw two alternative ways to act: to withdraw or to organize a safe humanitarian zone. The letter made it clear that France believed that the extablishment of such a zone was within the mandate already given by the Council, but wished nonetheless to have the support of the United Nations for the idea. The Council discussed the intention to create the zone in informal consultations on 6 July, where several delegations raised questions about the nature of the proposal. No formal reaction by the Council was given to the French letter.

On 14 July the Security Council issued a Presidential Statement (S/PRST/1994/34) which expressed alarm at the continued fighting, demanded an immediate cease-fire, urged the resumption of the political process within the framework of the Arusha Agreement, reaffirmed the humanitarian nature of the secure area in the south-west of Rwanda and demanded that "all concerned" respect this. Member States were called upon to contribute to ensure the deployment of the expanded UNAMIR II in the immediate future.

Goma, Zaire, was shelled on 17 July. That day, General Lafourcade, the Force Commander of Operation Turquoise, requested UNAMIR to convey the message to General Kagame that if the firing did not stop, France envisaged an intervention by force. In a previous contact with the Special Representative, Mr Shaharyar Khan, Major-General Paul Kagame had reportedly stated that the RPF was not responsible and that clear instructions were being sent to the forces in the region to avoid any shelling of Goma or adjacent Zairian territory.

On 17 July, the United Nations Rwanda Emergency Office Liaison in Goma reported that over a million Rwandese had crossed into Zaire. Concern was expressed that a further outflow might follow from the humanitarian protection zone under Operation Turquoise. This was the starting point of one of the most complicated and sensitive humanitarian emergencies of recent years – the huge exodus of Rwandan refugees into Zaire, whose camps were to become infiltrated by the Interahamwe and other forces behind the genocide. The massive relief effort that was put in place to support the camps in Zaire is still resented by those who survived the genocide within Rwanda.

On 18 July, the RPF had gained control over the whole of Rwanda except the humanitarian zone controlled by Operation Turquoise. The RPF declared a unilateral cease-fire. On 19 July, a Government of National Unity was sworn in in Kigali for a transitional period set at five years. Mr Pasteur Bizimungu was sworn in as President, Major-General Paul Kagame as Vice-President and Mr Faustin Twagiramungu as Prime Minister. About one hundred days after it began, the horrific genocide in Rwanda ended, leaving deep and bitter wounds behind.

Part I  Part II Part III  Part IV  Part V

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 16/05/2000
©S D Stein

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