Why didn't the United Nation send Peacekeepers to Rwanda?
UN Peace Keepers were in Rwanda before and during the Genocide. They were ordered not to protect the Tutsis and concentrate on safeguarding foreign nationals. Effectively ordered to allow the genocide to take place by The UN Security Council, which was influenced by previous losses of UN peacekeepers in the region, the reassurances of representatives from the genocidal regime,
ignorance of the facts on the ground, and worried about domestic politics.
- US represented by Madeleine Albright tried to remove US troops 4 days before the outbreak of genocide.
- UK representative Sir David Hannay, didn't think the UN had the resources on the ground to do more than aid the Foreigners.
- The security council was fearful of sending in more troops because of previous murders of UN troops in the region and the pressure of their domestic politics.
The United Nations had peacekeepers in Rwanda throughout the Genocide. According to an article by theconversation.com:
A lightly armed force of approximately 2,500 peacekeepers would help implement the Arusha Agreement, a 1993 peace accord that ended the civil war between Rwanda’s Hutu government and the Tutsi liberation movement, the Rwandan Patriotic Front.
Instead of overseeing national reconciliation, U.N. soldiers became eyewitnesses to genocide.
Peace Keepers are different than Peace Makers, something the UN is extremely hesitant to do. When all out war broke out the UN Peace Keepers were ordered to stand down and not protect the Tutsis from being slaughtered by the Hutu; but rather concentrate on evacuating foreigners.
Lessons from the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda, 25 years after the genocide it failed to stop
As the mass killings began, the U.N. ordered its blue helmeted troops to evacuate foreigners – but not intervene to save the Tutsis from slaughter. Between 800,000 and 1 million Tutsi and non-extremist Hutu civilians were murdered by their own neighbors.
From an article on declassified Papers released in 2014:
Inside the UN Security Council: April–July 1994
United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Czech Republic Declassified Documents Reveal New Perspectives on United Nations Security Council Debates on Rwanda in April 1994
The diplomatic cables, which supplement previously released United States and United Nations telegrams, show that non-aligned states led by Nigeria attempted to strengthen the UN peacekeeping force, known as UNAMIR, but failed to provide the required resources. The United States and other permanent members of the Security Council were scarred by the murders of UN peacekeepers in both Rwanda and Somalia, and unwilling to take any action that might prove unpopular domestically. Thus the UN Forces were ordered to stand aside.
- Threats by the Clinton administration to withdraw peacekeepers from Rwanda, even before April 6. The day before the shooting down of the presidential plane, Washington linked a three-month extension of UNAMIR [Document 2] to progress on implementing the Arusha peace agreements. According to Keating, the U.S. wanted to keep Rwanda on "a short leash" [Document 1] as a means of bringing pressure on the warring parties to meet their obligations under the peace accords.
- The decision by US policy-makers to push for withdrawal of UNAMIR. On April 11, four days after the start of the genocide, Keating reported "a growing feeling" on the part of US diplomats that UNAMIR "withdrawal may be necessary." [Document 4] On April 12, U.S. ambassador Madeleine Albright cabled Washington [Document 5] to propose "taking the lead in the Security Council to authorize the evacuation of the bulk of UNAMIR while leaving behind a skeletal staff." Albright reported a closing "window of opportunity" to withdraw the peacekeepers while Kigali airport "is still open and under French-Belgian control."
- Opposition to the presence of foreign forces by the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front. The RPF accepted the existing UN presence in Kigali, but was deeply suspicious of French and Belgian forces deployed in Rwanda to evacuate foreigners. The RPF threatened to treat such forces as "hostile" [Document 3] unless they withdrew from the country by April 14 at the latest. [Document 6]
- The voice of skepticism. Sir David Hannay of the United Kingdom argued on April 14 that the goal of protecting civilians in Rwanda was "simply not achievable" [Document 8] with the limited resources available to the UN. On April 25, the UK ambassador warned that there was " no point in promising what we could not deliver." [Document 12]
- Obstruction by the Rwandan government. The Security Council deliberations were complicated by the presence of a representative of the genocidal regime in Rwanda, Jean-Damascene Bizimana. According to Hannay, the Rwandan envoy persuaded other non-aligned ambassadors [Document 14] to block use of the word "genocide" to describe events in Rwanda on April 30. A handwritten annotation on the presidential statement drafted by Ambassador Keating records that "Rwanda/NAM wouldn't allow the term genocide." [Document 13]