A Decision Not to Act: Proposed UN Secure Humanitarian Areas in Rwanda

  • Carol McQueen
Part of the Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies book series (RCS)


From April to July 1994, between 500,000 and 800,000 persons, mostly Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus, were massacred in Rwanda in a genocide organized and perpetrated by Hutu extremists who took control of the Rwandan government and armed forces. Unlike in Iraq and Bosnia where international humanitarian involvement was mobilized with relative speed, the state response to genocide in Rwanda was so inadequate and sluggish as to be almost insignificant in terms of the course of the genocide and the protection of targeted civilians. Nonetheless, the Security Council did eventually authorize a more vigorous military humanitarian operation in Rwanda. Safety zones again featured prominently as a possible means to guarantee the protection of a threatened civilian population. Security Council Resolution 918 of 17 May 1994, which authorized the expansion of UNAMIR from 270 to 5,500 troops, mandated the peacekeeping force to ‘contribute to the security and protection of displaced persons, refugees and civilians at risk in Rwanda, including through the establishment and maintenance, where feasible, of secure humanitarian areas (SHAs)’. Since the UN Secretary-General was unable to find enough troops for this force until August after the genocide was over, such SHAs were never created, although it might be possible to consider the Amahoro Stadium location as a de facto prototype.


Security Council Humanitarian Intervention Safety Zone State Interest Community Interest 
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Copyright information

© Carol McQueen 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol McQueen
    • 1
  1. 1.United Nations Peacekeeping MissionDemocratic Republic of Congo

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