The Crime of Genocide and Its Contextual Features in Rwanda

  • Pietro SulloEmail author
Part of the International Criminal Justice Series book series (ICJS, volume 20)


In order to understand the key features of the Rwandan Genocide and the debate surrounding it, this chapter provides an overview on both the concept of genocide and its evolution in international law. The challenges posed by the protection of ethnic minorities within sovereign states are highlighted, as well as the contribution of Raphael Lemkin to the emergence of the concept of genocide in international law. The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide is analysed, with particular attention to the objective and subjective element of the crime. The contribution of the jurisprudence of the international tribunals and in particular the ICTR to the interpretation of the meaning of the concept of genocide is also in the spotlight. The key features of the Rwandan genocide are discussed. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of Belgian colonization, which significantly contributed to the ‘ethnicisation’ of the categories of Hutu and Tutsi, a factor that played a major role in the violent dynamics triggered in 1994. In addition, the careful preparation of the genocide by the regime of Juvenal Habyarimana and the indifference of the international community are emphasised. Finally, the constitutional transition and the challenges that post-genocide Rwanda faced in terms of reconstruction of the rule of law and of the social fabric are highlighted, with particular emphasis on the issue of post-genocide justice.


Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide ICTR ICTY Raphael Lemkin Treaty of Versailles Leipzig trials Martens Clause UNAMIR Hutu Tutsi Hamitic theory Arusha Peace Agreement 


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press and the author 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brussels School of International StudiesUniversity of KentBrusselsBelgium

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