Too Little, Too Late: France’s Zone Humanitaire Sûre in Rwanda

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

Abstract

In the midst of the UN Secretary-General’s desperate efforts to speed the deployment of UNAMIR II, the French government announced unexpectedly its decision to launch a military mission to Rwanda so as to maintain a humanitarian presence in the country pending the arrival of UNAMIR II. Assuring the international community that the operation’s humanitarian purpose excluded ‘any interference in the development of the balance of military forces between the parties involved in the conflict’,4 the French tabled a resolution in the Security Council on 22 June 1994, which was adopted by ten votes, with five abstentions. Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the Security Council stressed the ‘strictly humanitarian character’ of the mission and welcomed ‘the establishment of a temporary operation under national command and control aimed at contributing, in an impartial way, to the security and protection of displaced persons, refugees and civilians at risk in Rwanda…’5 Opération Turquoise was accorded a similar mandate to UNAMIR II in terms of the tasks it was allowed to perform, including the ‘establishment and maintenance, where feasible, of secure humanitarian areas’,6 but was authorized to use all necessary means to achieve these humanitarian objectives.

Keywords

Assure Hunt Egypt Defend Toll 

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Notes

  1. 9.
    Stephen Smith, ‘France-Rwanda: Lévirat Colonial et Abandon dans la Région des Grands Lacs’, in Les Crises Politiques au Burundi et au Rwanda, 1993–1994: Analyses, Faits et Documents, ed. André Gichaoua (Paris: Karthala, 1995), p. 448.Google Scholar
  2. 11.
    Pascal Krop, Le Génocide Franco-Africain: Faut-il Juger les Mitterrand? (Paris: Éditions Jean-Claude Lattes, 1994), p. 72;Google Scholar
  3. and Jean-Pierre Chrétien, Le Défi de l’Ethnisme: Rwanda et Burundi: 1990–1996 (Paris: Éditions Karthala, 1997), p. 127. Chrétien argues that Habyarimana believed that he would be able to carry out a superficial democratization without truly altering the extent of his power in Rwanda.Google Scholar
  4. 16.
    Rony Brauman, Devant le Mal: Un Génocide en Direct (Paris: Arléa, 1994), p. 62. Here again the issue of French culpability and indifference arises. It is difficult to imagine that the French military did not have any idea of the purpose for which these militias were being trained. See Agnès Callamard, ‘French Policy in Rwanda’ in The Path of A Genocide, ed. Adelman and Suhrke, pp. 168–169.Google Scholar
  5. 17.
    Mel McNulty, ‘France’s Rwanda Débâcle’, War Studies Journal 2, 2 (Spring 1997), 10.Google Scholar
  6. 18.
    The DGSE specializes in undercover operations, counter-espionage and discreet advisement. See Philippe Marchesin, ‘Mitterrand l’Africain’, Politique Africaine 58 (June 1995), 19.Google Scholar
  7. 19.
    See Patrick de St. Exupéry, L’Inavouable: La France au Rwanda (Paris: Éditions des Arènes, 2004), pp. 178–79.Google Scholar
  8. 20.
    François-Xavier Verschave, Complicité de Génocide? La Politique de la France au Rwanda (Paris: Éditions La Décourverte, 1994), p. 36.Google Scholar
  9. 23.
    Human Rights Watch says it has evidence to prove that the French delivered arms to the FAR via Goma five times in May and June. See Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story, pp. 661–662. The French Assemblée Nationale inquiry concludes in contrast that such deliveries never occurred. See Rapport D’information (Rwanda), Tome I, p. 186. Both Gouteux and St. Exupéry offer considerable, sometimes anecdotal, evidence that France supplied the FAR directly or indirectly with weapons during the genocide. See Jean-Paul Gouteux, Un Génocide Secret D’État: La France et le Rwanda 1990–1997 (Paris: Éditions Sociales, 1998), pp. 74–75; and St. Exupéry, L’Inavouable, pp. 183–184, 202–203. Melvern claims that France destroyed the paper trail linking it to the Rwandan extremists. See Melvern, Conspiracy to Murder, p. 186.Google Scholar
  10. 27.
    Ibid., pp. 172–176; and Colette Braeckman, Rwanda: Histoire d’un Génocide (Paris: Fayard, 1994), p. 258.Google Scholar
  11. 31.
    See for instance St. Exupéry, L’Inavouable; Verschave, Complicité de Génocide; Brauman, Devant le Mal, Gouteux, Génocide Secret D’État; Mehdi Ba, Rwanda, 1994: Un Génocide Français (Paris: L’Esprit Frappeur, 1997); Krop, Le Génocide Franco-Africain; and Stephen Smith, ‘France-Rwanda’, pp. 447–453.Google Scholar
  12. 32.
    See for example Prunier, History of a Genocide; Sara Fyson, French Intervention in Rwanda 1990–1994: Acting out Ideational Biases (M.Phil. Thesis, University of Oxford, 2000); McNulty, ‘France’s Rwanda Débâcle’, pp. 3–22; Chrétien, Le Défi de l’Ethnisme; and Rapport D’information (Rwanda), especially Tome II Annexes, and Sommaires des Comptes Rendus d’Auditions. Google Scholar
  13. 33.
    Daniel Bourmaud, ‘France in Africa: African Politics and French Foreign Policy’, Issue: A Journal of Opinion 23, 2 (1995), 60.Google Scholar
  14. 34.
    Jean-François Bayart, ‘Réflexions sur la Politique Africaine de la France’, Politique Africaine 58 (June 1995), 48.Google Scholar
  15. 38.
    See Asteris C. Huliaras, ‘The “anglosaxon conspiracy”: French perceptions of the Great Lakes Crisis’, The Journal of Modern African Studies 36, 4 (1998), 598–599;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. and Rachel Utley, ‘The New French Interventionism’, Civil Wars 1, 2 (Summer 1998), 85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 54.
    Jean-François Bayart, La Politique Africaine de François Mitterrand (Paris: Éditions Karthala, 1984), pp. 57–65.Google Scholar
  18. 63.
    Unfortunately, due perhaps to this ethnic divisiveness and the fear of another genocide, the RPF has only been able to retain its hold over Rwanda by putting in place a de facto relatively benign dictatorship, lending greater credibility to France’s views of the early 1990s about the prospects for democracy in Rwanda under the RPF. See, for example, Filip Reyntjens, ‘Rwanda, Ten Years On: From Genocide to Dictatorship’, African Affairs 103 (2004), pp. 177–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 81.
    See generally Danielle Birck, ‘La Télévision et le Rwanda ou le Génocide Déprogrammé’, Les Temps Modernes 50, 583 (1995), 181–197.Google Scholar
  20. 84.
    Jean-Hervé Bradol, ‘Rwanda, Avril-Mai 1994, Limites et Ambiguïtés de L’Action Humanitaire’, Les Temps Modernes 50, 583 (1995), 142.Google Scholar
  21. 100.
    Borton, Brusset and Halam, Study III, p. 55. See also Stephanie T. E. Kleine-Ahlbrandt, The Protection Gap in the International Protection of Internally Displaced Persons: the Case of Rwanda (Geneva: Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales, 1996); and Adelman and Suhrke, Study II, pp. 62–65.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Carol McQueen 2005

Authors and Affiliations

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

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