Report blames UN for Rwanda genocide, Annan apologises

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at
Sun Dec 19 06:32:46 MST 1999

18 December 1999
Report blames UN for Rwanda genocide, Annan apologises
UNITED NATIONS: In a strongly worded indictment, an international inquiry
panel has held the entire United Nations system, including the secretariat,
security council and member states, responsible for the 1994 genocide in
Rawanda in which more than 800,000 people were massacred.
The report, commissioned by secretary general Kofi Annan, was particularly
harsh on the security council, especially the United States whose the then
ambassador Madeleine Albright (now secretary of state) sought to play down
the possiblity of largescale killings despite reports that they appeared
"This international responsibility is one which warrants a clear apology by
the organisation and by member states concerned to the Rwandese people," it
Within hours of the release of the report yesterday, Annan expressed "deep
remorse" over UN failure and reiterated his strong commitment to making sure
the world body never again falters in stopping mass slaughter.
"Of all my aims as secretary-general, there is none to which i feel more
deeply committed than that of enabling the UN never again to fall in
protecting a civilian population from genocide or mass slaughter," he said
in a statement adding, "all of us must bitterly regret that we did not do
more to prevent it."
The report showed a UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda was doomed from the
start by an insufficient mandate and later destroyed by the security
council's refusal to strengthen it once the killings began.
"There was a serious gap between the mandate and the political realities of
Rwanda and between the mandate and the resources dedicated to it," Ingvar
Carlsson, former Swedish Prime Minister and the head of the panel, said at a
press conference at the UN headquarters, referring to the UN Assistance
Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR).
The panel revealed warnings and signs of massacres plans being ignored, lack
of adequate resources to UNAMIR and reports from field sent by Gen Romeo A
Dallaire of Canada of possiblity of genocide and accumulation of arms not
being taken seriously,
"Information received by the United Nations that plans are being made to
exterminate any group of people requires immediate and determined response,"
Carlsson commented.
The events including the UN reducing peacekeeping force to a few hundred
from 2,500 when the genocide began and then increasing it to 5,500 after it
was almost over would always be difficult to explain, he said.
In a statement released by the security council yesterday, Annan welcomed
the inquiry's emphasis on lessons to be learnt both from the tragedy and the
"These recommendations merit very serious attention, leading to prompt and
effective action -- by the secretariat, by the security council and the
international community as a whole," Annan said.
While the report acknowledeged that some steps have already been taken over
the past few years to improve UN's capacity to respond to conflicts, and
specifically to respond to some of the mistakes made in Rwanda, much
remained to be done, the secretary general said.
 For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service
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Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. 1999.

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