Organized Violence Case Study

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Rwanda Genocide (1994)

The Role of Globalization

We know that the factors which resulted in the Rwanda genocide taking place were the ethnic hatred, ecological pressures and the civil war. However, what we don't know is why the genocide took place at all. Therefore, here we will be talking about the genocide that took place in 1994 only. Here the obvious features of the globalization as well as the international pressures that were faced by Rwanda will be discussed, along with this we will also be looking at the globalized forces that were brought together by the Arusha Accords which ultimately resulted in the happening of genocide. Later on, the Kaldor's 'New War' thesis will be examined in order to understand how Rwanda is a part of a broader 'new war' environment where conflicts are arising among the neo-ethnicities in their efforts to gain power.

International Pressure

Before the 1980's, Rwanda was seen as a very successful non-communist dictatorship by the international donors; however, at the end of the 1980's this perception about Rwanda changed drastically. The main reason behind this change towards Rwanda by the international donors was because that, like many other post-colonial states, Rwanda relied on its mono-cultural exporting of coffee and tea. The export of coffee resulted in about 82% of the export earnings for Rwanda. However, when in the 1980's the international prices of coffee started to increase the demand for it decreased and as a result Rwanda's export of coffee got down by 50% between the years 1987-1991. While Rwanda was suffering from this huge loss of export revenue its external debts were increasing, which affected the economy of Rwanda even more. According to the notes by Chossudovsky (1996), the fact remained that the external debts of Rwanda doubled between the years 1985 and 1989 and between the years 1989 and 1992 these debts further increased by 34%.

The trade relations with other countries were also getting affected as a result of the civil war being fought against the RPF, the trade route was getting affected as well; due to fighting the road to the Kenyan port of Mombassa became unusable. According to Sellstrom and Wohlgemuth (1996), the war did not only affect the industrial sector of the country but also the tourist industry. This affected the economy of the country very badly as, the tourist industry had been earning the third most revenues. All this further affected the food and coffee productions within the country.

Since the Habyarimana regime started to weaken in the late 1980's, they tried to restore their power and as a result of their attempts to do so human rights were greatly abused and the killing of politicians increased a lot (Melvern, 2000).

It was by the end of 1990 that it became very clear that the country was not only economically in a very bad shape but politically as well. Since, it was a common perception among the international community in the globalized, post-cold war era that the loans are taken in order to make the political developments possible, it would promote the multi-part democratization. Therefore, the Habyarimana were forced to share the power with the RPF as it was crucial at the time for the country to avoid famine in order to improve the economic scenario. The implementation of the Arusha Accords in order to stop the civil war with the RPF and the democratic developments were the conditions on which Rwanda was given the loans (Melvern, 2000).

The Arusha Accords

Arusha Accords were signed in 1993. According to the Arusha Accords Habyarimana's power was significantly reduced as, the Accords forced the multi-party democratization. This further triggered the genocidal tendencies. The Coalition pour la Defense de la Republique (CDR) was a racist Hutu party that emerged as a result of the increase in the democratization process. In order to unite its anti-Tutsi influence the Coalition pour la Defense de la Republique (CDR) established the 'Radio des Milles Collines'. The CDR started building groups of militias that planned the massacres because they didn't agree with the Arusha Accords with regards to their approach of sharing of power. Some of the public authorities and the government parties were with them as well. The CDR played a very important role in triggering the occurrence of the genocide and their radio station helped in implementing it. Although the idea behind increasing the democracy was to ensure and spread peace however, it did the complete opposite (Melvern, 2000).

The government of Rwanda was thus further weakened by the Arusha Accords. According to Adelmann and Suhrke (1996), the Arusha Accords are a facade behind which the ethnic mobilizations are being encouraged by the particular political interests and the civil administration is being disintegrated by feeding these political demands thereof. At the time that Habyarimana was negotiating with the Arusha Accords, Akazu which was the informal council of Habyarimana was mobilizing the Interahawme to conduct mass killings. Akazu feared that they will lose their power now that the Arusha Accords have been implemented. The main reason behind the actions that were taken by the Hutu elite to implement the genocide was that insecurity and fear was prevailing among the elite.

In order to force the Rwanda government to come forward for the negotiations on the Arusha Accords the aid was being used as an influence. Unfortunately, the multilateral strategy that was being used in order to make the multiparty democratization and the economic structural adjustment had completely opposite affects on each other. Generally speaking the implementation of democracy can be a very good thing however, in this case the appearance of the multiparty democratization resulted in the increase in distance among the political parties. This further influenced the occurrence of the genocide (Melvern, 2000).

The Rwanda government was forced to adjust and make concessions in the domestic political regime by the Arusha Accords as this was their way of showing Rwanda the importance of globalization. Although peace treaties aren't new but implementation of the condition to adhere to the democratization in order to be provided with the aid shows the extent to which globalization has power. It was at the start of 1994 that the conditions on aid increased; this forced Habyarimana to negotiate with the Arusha Accords and to make concessions. This resulted in the loss of the support of Akuza for Habyarimana and Akuza appeared as a very dangerous multi-party democracy in which identity politics and extremism was allowed. This resulted in flourishing the neo-ethnicities that had re-emerged (Melvern, 2000).

New Wars

It is very clear from the demands for the multi-party democratization and the international market pressures that the globalized factors were exerting their power in Rwanda. This also clearly shows the extent of power that the forces of globalization have. With the help of the Kaldor's 'new war' theory (2001) we can understand the link that was present among these forces and how all this resulted in a terrible conflict.

According to Kaldor, a new kind or organized violence developed during the 1980's and the 1990's especially in places like Eastern Europe and Africa. This was one of the aspects of the globalized era. In his opinion this kind of violence was the 'new war.' The reason why he used the term new here is because this type of war was different from those previous perceptions of war that were concluded from an earlier time period. In his opinion with the help of this 'new war' paradigm we can understand the ethnic cleansing and the genocide (Kaldor, 2001).

According to Kaldor these 'new wars' may be localized in terms of the geographical locations but they are globalized conflicts as the global factors (such as finance, mobilization and support) depend upon the transactional networks. The validity of this aspect of Kaldor's theory can be proved with the genocide in Rwanda (Kaldor, 2001). According to Melvern (2000), the scenario in Rwanda might not have gotten this worse and it might have been easier to heal the violent divisions if there wouldn't have been so much involvement from the outside interests. The affect that the "outside interests" had on the state of affairs of Rwanda with respect to the peace processes and the international trade are very clearly negative.

The importance and the influence of the transnational networks can be estimated from the fact that the World Bank and IMF unintentionally paid for the genocide in Rwanda when they were asked for the funds from the Structural Adjustment Programs. Both Egypt's and France's governments were involved in the genocides in such a way that they were supporting the extremists in Rwanda by supplying them with the weapons and ammunition. The money for these activities was being taken from the funds in the international financial institutions (Melvern, 2000).

The international community showed complete indifference to the fact that the money which was supposed to be used for the aid was being used to buy ammunition to support the genocide. Due to this reaction of…

Sources Used in Document:


Adelmann, H. & Suhrke, A. "Early warning and conflict management," JEEAR, Copenhagen, 1996

Chossudovsky, M. "Economic Genocide in Rwanda," Economic and Political Weekly (India) 13, April, 1996

Des Forges, A. "Shame -- Rationalizing Western Apathy on Rwanda," Foreign Affairs, 79:3, 2000

Goose S. & Smyth, F. "Arming Genocide in Rwanda," Foreign Affairs 73:5, 1994

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