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Let's Be Friends: The United States, Post-Genocide Rwanda, and Victor's Justice in Arusha

Institute of Development Policy and Management (IOB) of the University of Antwerp Discussion Paper

61 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2013 Last revised: 5 Mar 2014

Luc Reydams

University of Notre Dame

Date Written: January 1, 2013

Abstract

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda completed the trial phase of its mandate without prosecuting anyone from the victorious Rwandan Patriotic Front. This article examines whether the ICTR was doomed from the start to be a court of ‘victor’s justice.’ I explore the issue by re-examining the politics of its creation. Interviews with (former) US and UN ambassadors and hundreds of declassified diplomatic telegrams (‘cables’) and intelligence reports of the US Department of State shed new light on this process. My analysis concentrates on the strategy of the RPF vis-à-vis the international community and the responses of the United Nations and United States. I argue that understanding the evolution of the relation between Washington and Kigali – from an early, almost accidental support of the RPF to nearly unconditional backing – can help explain RPF impunity. I do not suggest that Washington planned to shield Kagame from international prosecution, or that the US was the only Security Council member to embrace him. However, once Washington entered into a partnership with the ‘new’ Rwanda, it was committed to moving forward – and this implied burying the past and oftentimes also ignoring the present. The result was victor’s justice in Arusha – and seemingly endless war in neighboring Congo.

Suggested Citation

Reydams, Luc, Let's Be Friends: The United States, Post-Genocide Rwanda, and Victor's Justice in Arusha (January 1, 2013). Institute of Development Policy and Management (IOB) of the University of Antwerp Discussion Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2197823 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2197823

Luc Reydams (Contact Author)

University of Notre Dame ( email )

217 OSHAG
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States

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