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Rwanda: Dealing with Genocide and Crimes against Humanity in the Context of Armed Conflict and Failed Political Transition

Vandeginste, Stef
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) In Nigel Biggar, ed., Burying the Past: Making Peace and Doing Justice after Civil Conflict. Expanded and updated. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. Pp. 251-285.

In the spring of 1994 Rwanda experienced an onslaught of genocide, with hundreds of thousands of minority Tsutsis and moderate Hutus killed in about three months by Hutu extremists in the military, militias, and local communities. In this essay, Stef Vandeginste describes the almost exclusively judicial approach that, in the aftermath of the atrocities, Rwanda has adopted to deal with the past. In the course of this examination, Vandeginste also highlights some of the limitations of this approach. The intensity and scale of the violence, and their long-term devastation of Rwandan society, seriously challenge not only judicial efforts to deal with the past, but also initiatives to repair political systems and the social tissue of Rwanda. To explore all of this, Vandeginste first sketches the history of conflicts and violence in Rwanda from 1990 through 1999. Then he discusses responses by the international community and government of Rwanda with respect to justice, reconciliation, and reparation in the wake of the genocide and crimes against humanity in Rwanda.


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