This paper examines the genocide in Rwanda, exploring to what extent globalization can account for the genocide. I suggest there are incontrovertible, ‘globalized’ factors which contributed to the actual process of genocide but conclude it was the unique mix of internal dynamics combined with the pressures of globalization that led to genocide. This includes financing from diasporas, global arms sales, complicity of international organisations, training of domestic militia groups by foreign forces as well as the effect of the international political economy in creating economic stresses on Rwanda’s domestic economy. I suggest that globalization can also account for why the genocide took place when it did by creating a ‘new war’ environment in which neo-nationalisms evolved and destabilised the state. I propose that globalizing forces can create conditions for social fragmentation, fuelling conditions for cleavage and conflict. I conclude it was the unique mix of internal dynamics combined with the pressures of globalization that led to genocide.
Can Genocide in Rwanda be understood within the context of Globalization?
In April 1994, the Rwandan government called upon the Hutu majority to kill each member of the Tutsi minority. Within one hundred days up to one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in one of the most unambiguous cases of genocide since the Holocaust. The killing rate in Rwanda was five times that achieved by the Nazis; as many as three quarters of the Tutsi population were murdered and thousands of Hutu were also slain for opposing the genocide.1 Their crime was simply that they were Tutsi; an ethnic labelling which as late as the turn of the century did not even exist.
This paper examines the genocide in Rwanda and explores to what extent globalizing forces influenced the genocide. A transformationalist perspective of globalization will be adopted as the ‘globalization lens’ through which the genocide in Rwanda will be viewed. This perspective, consistent with the work of Held, Giddens and Kaldor understands globalization as the main driving force behind the rapid social, political and economic changes now shaping society, culture and world order. This understanding of globalization embraces Giddens’ notion of, ‘increasing global interconnectedness’ and the consequences of this. An inherent and increasingly noticeable consequence of globalization appears to be the rise of seemingly contradictory dynamics. This has been clearly demonstrated through the genocide in Rwanda; that whilst globalization seemingly increases interconnectedness, it can concurrently have a fragmentary effect within states.
I suggest there are indisputable ‘globalized’ factors which contributed to the actual process of genocide; financing from diasporas, global arms sales, complicity of international organisations, training of domestic militia groups by foreign forces as well as the effect of the international political economy in creating stresses on Rwanda’s domestic economy. Furthermore, I argue that globalization can account for why the genocide took place when it did insofar as it has created a ‘new war’ environment in which neo-nationalisms evolve and destabilise states. I propose that globalizing forces can create conditions for social fragmentation fuelling conditions for cleavage and conflict.
The issue is important on two levels. It compels us to examine how a globalized world can deliberately or inadvertently contribute to catastrophes such as genocide and reveals the conditions that culminated to create the forces for genocide. This is important to understanding and preventing future cases of genocide as well as raising normative issues; what is our duty as global civil society in the face of escalating new nationalisms and impending genocide?
Alternative Explanations for Genocide
Before we discuss the impact of globalization, it is prudent to examine alternative explanations of the genocide which although not widely supported give an alternative perspective to explaining the dynamics which led to genocide. In order to assess the extent to which genocide can be understood within the context of globalization, these alternative explanations raise opposing viewpoints and issues which need to be explained. Three alternative explanations will be examined; that it was simply a resurgence of ethnic hatred, that the genocide was in fact a civil war, and that it was caused by ecological factors.
In popular press at the time, the genocide was explained as an ethnic conflict between two ancient tribes. It was commonly assumed that the Rwandan genocide was spontaneous and conducted by a frenzied population armed with machetes. This was an impression created by much media coverage which typically fed stereotypes and reinforced Western prejudices that, “Africa is a place of darkness, where savages clobber each other on the head to assuage their dark ancestral bloodlusts.”2 Although there were instances of regional conflict during the time between the Rwandan President, Habyarimana’s ascendancy to power and the beginnings of genocide in 1990, there were no reports of ethnic violence. This, according to Andersen provides, “…a strong indication that the cause of the genocide did not lie in the ethnic relations between the Hutu and Tutsi per se, as ethnicity was not really an item on the agenda in the years before the outbreak of civil war in 1990.”3 Before Habyarimana came to power, extensive discrimination against Tutsis was rife. However, Habyarimana ensured that discrimination against Tutsis was reduced, their security was guaranteed and a 10% quota was established for Tutsi for jobs in the civil service and education. Mass repatriation of Tutsi exiles from the 1960’s Hutus Power revolution was not permitted but those Tutsis who had remained in Rwanda during this period were not living in fear of their lives.
The notions of ‘Hutu’ and ‘Tutsi’ contestable; there are many interpretations of what constitutes these identities and how they differ from one another. It is widely acknowledged that what separated Tutsi and Hutu was a matter of occupation and wealth. The Tutsi were pastoralist, owning large herds of cattle while their Hutu subjects were largely agriculturalist, farming the land. What defined someone as a Tutsi or Hutu was not rigid; it was possible to change between these groups depending on changing circumstances.
The discourse used by Hutu radicals to fuel genocide was that Hutus and Tutsis were radically different people with different origins. Uvin supports this notion; “…Hutu and Tutsi do have different historical origins, as is the case in many neighbouring regions. People were conscious of these differences. The colonizer did not invent them from nothing.”4 However, he notes that the precise meaning of Hutu and Tutsi differed over time and between regions - a function of power and ideological struggles. Uvin suggests that it was the earlier forces, those of colonisation that were the instrumental factors in perpetuating the ethnic identity; “The capacity to blame the Tutsi for all of society’s evils and to eventually consider eradicating them like a cancer from society does not materialize from thin air…It builds on long standing myths and beliefs… and exclusionary policies”5 The rediscovered Hutu ethnicity may have only developed over decades rather than centuries, but due to the way the colonial discourse had acquired meaning for Hutus, it became both real and tangible.
The counter discourse, espoused by Tutsis, “…asserts that the distinctions between Hutu and Tutsi are the products of the colonial imagination and associated with divide and rule policies.”6 Indeed there is much evidence to support the argument that Hutu and Tutsi were not ‘ethnically’ different. According to Keane, the notion of “…a ‘pure’ ethnic divide is a myth…there was extensive intermarrying between Tutsis and Hutus and….there is a long history of people exchanging identities…”7 The evidence to support this is overwhelming; there are considerably more similarities than differences between them. The distinctions between them have much more to do with social than ethnic characteristics. For example, the two groups shared the same cultural heritage, diet, and spoke the same language, Kinyarwanda. These shared commonalities suggest there is some weight to the argument that there are no real ethnic differences between Hutu and Tutsi.
In order to ascertain what exactly constitutes, ‘ethnic’ conflict it is prudent to examine how we can understand this term. Banton’s understanding of ethnicity proposes that an ‘ethnicity’ can be developed over a relatively short space of time; “Ethnicity is a social identity based on symbolic cultural differences. Whether such differences are imaginary or real is irrelevant. What matters is that these perceived cultural differences play a part in an individual’s evaluation of his/her identity and actions in relation to others from within or outside his/her ethnic group.”8 Similarly, Alex de Waal suggests that new ethnic identities can evolve in a short time; “…sixty years of colonial and Tutsi rule, and thirty five years of Hutu supremacy following the 1959 revolution, which consigned half the Tutsi population to exile, have fundamentally changed the nature of the relationships between them. Political conflict, punctuated by intercommunal violence, has created distinct and mutually opposed Hutu and Tutsi identities, which, for all the hesitations of social scientists, are identifiably “ethnic”.”9 However, as previously noted, there was a period of time after the 1959 revolution and before 1990 when ethnic conflict did not take place and Hutu and Tutsi lived in relative harmony. Whilst it may be true that neo-ethnicities identities have emerged, it was not until 1990 that they became a reason for conflict and so does little to explain why it took place at that particular time-space juncture. Ethnicity cannot be removed entirely from the equation for it was the basis on which the genocide occurred. We must examine how then, ethnicity re-emerged in the period of 1990 to become a salient factor in the genocide.
Some who suggest that genocide did not actually occur; that it was simply part of the civil war between the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and government troops working in conjunction with the Interahamwe to defend Rwanda. The RPF was founded by Tutsi exiles in 1985 with the aim of establishing repatriation for Tutsi Diaspora and establishing democracy in Rwanda. When efforts for Tutsi repatriation by peaceful means failed, the RPF began their attacks in an attempt to forcibly resettle in Rwanda. By the end of October 1990, Rwanda was in the midst of a guerrilla war. In response to the Tutsi invasion Hutus began indiscriminate killing. According to Anderson, “…these events also marked the beginning of the massacres of Tutsi in the country, which escalated to genocidal proportions by April 1994.”10 When the RPF learnt that massacres had begun, they renewed the civil war against the Hutu government and Interahamwe who were committing the massacres. What exactly constitutes civil war, and what genocide, is therefore slightly ambiguous. The resulting conflicts ran concurrently until the RPF gained control of Kigali, so to some extent they are inextricable.
The Minister of Justice of the Hutu government in exile, Mbonampeka supports the claim that it was not genocide, but civil war; "In a war, you can't be neutral. If you are not for your country, are you not for its attackers?" Rationalising the killings in this way, he suggests, "…it wasn't genocide. Personally, I don't believe in the genocide. There were massacres within which there were crimes against humanity or crimes of war. But the Tutsis were not killed as Tutsis, only as sympathizers of the RPF. Ninety percent of the Tutsis were pro-RPF."11 His suggestion that all Tutsi were necessarily members of the RPF corroborates with the idea of civil war; that the Hutu were defending themselves against Tutsi citizens who had the goal of overthrowing the Rwandan state and re-establishing Tutsi domination.
Whilst some might not go so far as to reduce the genocide to civil war, they suggest civil war perpetuated the conflict and led to genocide because it created instability and fear of the Tutsi population. This fear exacerbated by the state propaganda, engendered fear and gave Hutus what they may have perceived to be a legitimate reason to kill Tutsis. The mass participation in the massacres of 1990-1993 and the genocide of 1994 could be understood partly within the context of this fear - not only of the Interahamwe, who killed many Hutu who refused to participate, but also of the RPF. As Mamdani notes, "Hutu Power extremists prevailed…because they told farmers that the alternative would be to let RPF take their land and return it to the Tutsi who had been expropriated after 1959."12 This view is echoed by Percival and Dixon who suggest; “…the government was able to create and capitalise on popular fear by stating that the Tutsi in the form of the RPF, were planning to seize land which was recognised as a significant threat.”13 The government was able to capitalise on the long standing dynamics of exclusion and marginalisation between Hutu and Tutsi established in the colonial era.
However, this argument is flawed. It fails to recognise that although the RPF was an invading army; it was willing to engage in power-sharing agreements and signed the 1993 Arusha Accords that set the terms for peace. The RPF was not interested in committing genocide, killing innocent Hutus; they were waging a war against the Rwandan Army and Interahamwe militias. Nor were all Rwandan Tutsis in league with, or members of the RPF, as Hutu Power extremists argued. Even if they were, it cannot explain the slaughter of the elderly and children who cannot be regarded as combatants. Certainly, many Hutus saw all Tutsi as the enemy, but there is little to suggest that all Tutsis resident in Rwanda were somehow part of the RPF, at least not until they began to see the RPF as their only liberators from the genocide. A separation must be made between the RPF-Rwandan war, on the one hand, and the Hutu Power directed genocide of Tutsi citizens and civilians, on the other. The events which took place in Rwanda, especially between April and July of 1994 certainly fit within Horowitz’s understanding of genocide as, “…the wholesale massacre of people in an attempt by those who rule to achieve total elimination of a subject people.”14 Over simplistic reductions of genocide as civil war does not take into account the scale of civilian deaths which devastated the country and characterised it as genocide.
Some suggest genocide can largely be understood as an ecological disaster insofar as “Rwanda’s scarcity of ecological resources – with the highest population density in Africa for an almost entirely rural country, coupled with one of Africa’s highest population growth rates – constitutes the root cause of the genocide.”15 Overpopulation in a country struggling with civil war, food shortages and famine combined with and lack of natural resources can create social conflict in a battle for the few resources that are available. Uvin argues that conflict allows an overpopulated county to equilibrate its “carrying capacity,”16 and there is no other alternative to this conflict apart from natural disasters or famine. In an environment where too many people are struggling with too few resources, it is suggested that there is an inevitability of conflict.
This view is shared by the International Red Cross; “Food production was slowing as dramatically as the population was increasing…In the late 1980’s Rwanda’s foreign residents were speculating on a catastrophe before the end of the century…Bloody conflict arrived first.”17 Patterson, also supports this view: “…the 1994 genocide was the unavoidable outcome of overpopulation and environmental limitations…”18 Furthermore, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, at that time, Mrs. Sadako Ogata shares this perspective or conflict caused by environmental pressures; she suggests “…the recent strife in Rwanda is a striking example of ethnic conflict, ignited by population pressure and diminished land resources.”19 Gerard Prunier also acknowledges the influence of the high population density; “…the genocidal violence of the spring of 1994 can be partly attributed to the population density.”20 Proponents of this view emphasise that with a population of around eight million in an area the size of Wales, the country was overcrowded, overpopulated, and the scarcity of resources had the potential to exacerbate inevitable social tensions.
Whilst many of the scholars recognise the influence of the population density and the relationship between population growth and genocidal violence, few ascribe any more than passing comment on this relationship. Most would argue that whilst the ecological resources scarcity was an influential factor, it was simply a contributing factor and cannot be understand in isolation, aside from political processes. There is little hard evidence to suggest that overpopulation necessitates violence and the battle for ecological resources inevitably leads to genocide.
The Role of Globalization
Civil war, ecological pressures and ethnic hatred can all be seen as important factors contributing to the genocide but fail in themselves to provide an explanation of why genocide occurred when it did. We need to examine why the genocide took place in 1994, not before, and not after. I will first examine how overt features of globalization, international pressures on Rwanda, and the Arusha Accords brought together a set of clear globalized forces which enabled the genocide to happen when it did. Then, by examining Kaldor’s ‘New War’ thesis, I will explain how Rwanda is part of a broader ‘new war’ environment in which the struggle for power around neo-ethnicities precipitates conflict.
Rwanda had been widely regarded by international donors as a successful non-communist dictatorship but this success changed rapidly at the end of the 1980’s. Rwanda’s economic production had like many post-colonial states, continued its mono-culture, exporting coffee and to a lesser extent, tea. International coffee prices were rapidly plummeting in the 1980’s. For a country in which 82%21 of its export earnings relied on coffee, this created a dramatic loss in export revenue whilst external debts rapidly rose. Rwanda’s export earnings plummeted by 50%22 between 1987 and 1991. As Chossudovsky notes, “Rwanda’s external debts doubled between 1985 and 1989 and increased by another 34% between 1989 and 1992.” Rwanda was in a desperate situation.”23 The civil war against the RPF had impacted trade relations with other countries; the road to the Kenyan port of Mombassa was, as a result of the fighting, unusable. Sellstrom and Wohlgemuth suggest, “The war …destroyed industrial enterprises and the tourist industry which by then had become the third largest earner of foreign exchange in the country. In turn all this had a devastating effect on the national economy, with negative impacts on coffee and food production.”24 Not only were coffee prices falling but entire economy was struggling to generate foreign exchange due to the conflict with the RPF which created a severe economic crisis.
By the end of the 1980’s the Habyarimana regime was weakening and in its last attempts to stabilise the old authoritarian rule, human rights were abused and political murders became increasingly common. By the end of 1990 it was evident that the country was in a deep political and economic crisis. In the globalized, post Cold-War era, the international community largely linked loans to political development, rewarding steps towards multi-party democratisation. Consequently, in order to get the funding Rwanda needed to prevent widespread famine, the Habyarimana regime was effectively forced into power sharing negotiations with the RPF in order to get the economy back on track. The conditions for the loans in Rwanda were dependent on evidence of democratic development and on the implementation of the Arusha Accords which aimed to stop the civil war with the RPF.
The Arusha Accords
The Arusha Accords, signed in 1993, significantly reduced Habyarimana’s power and forced multi-party democratisation which clearly exacerbated genocidal tendencies. With the broadening of the democratisation process, the Coalition pour la Defense de la Republique (CDR), a radical racist Hutu party emerged which established the infamous, ‘Radio des Milles Collines’, to consolidate its anti-Tutsi influence. In response to what they felt as exclusion from the power sharing agreement of the Arusha Accords, “…the CDR took an increasingly active part in building up groups of militias and planning massacres – along with the government party and public authorities. The CDR played a crucial role in fuelling the flames of genocide - and its radio station orchestrated its implementation.”25 Whilst the idea for the broadening of democracy was to increase legitimacy for the peace process, it in fact did the opposite.
The multiparty system of government introduced in Rwanda through the Arusha Accords increased the fragmentation of the steadily weakening government. Adelmann and Suhrke describe the multiparty system as “…a cloak behind which particular interests encouraged ethnic mobilisation and fed political fiefdoms which usurped the civil administration.”26 While Habyarimana was negotiating the Arusha Accords, his informal council, the ‘Akazu’, was making preparations for mass killings and genocide by mobilising the Interahawme.27The opposition by Akazu of the Arusha Accords stemmed from their fear of losing power and privileges. “There is clear evidence that the fear caused by the break-down in law and order, in addition to the increasing levels of resistance, gave the Akuzu the motivation to prepare and plan the massacres over a period of years up to April 1994.”28 This atmosphere of insecurity within the elite was the driving force behind the actions taken by the Hutu elite to plan and implement the genocide.
Conditionality on aid was effectively used as leverage for creating the mutually debilitating stalemate that was needed to force the Rwandan government to the negotiating table at the Arusha Accords. However, the multilateral strategy for economic structural adjustment and the multiparty democratisation had a mutually conflicting effect on each other. When donors demanded multiparty democracy, they were effectively dictating Rwandan economic policy. Democracy, as a political goal can generally be perceived as good, but the emergence of multiparty democratisation led to the fragmentation of political groups and legitimised the swift emergence of more extremist and radical racist groups which destabilised and eventually destroyed the potential peace process. Rather than strengthening its legitimacy, this had the effect of weakening the position of the government.
The Arusha Accords demonstrated the importance of globalization in the way they forced the Rwandan government to make concessions and adjust the domestic political regime. International peace treaties are not new in themselves, but the conditionality attached to the peace, in providing aid on the condition of democratisation shows the power of globalization. The conditions on aid which increased at the beginning of 1994 successfully forced Habyarimana to the negotiating table and to make concessions he would otherwise not have made. By forcing these concessions however, he lost he lost the support of the Akuza and enabled the emergence of a dangerous multi-party democracy which allowed extremism and identity politics to flourish as neo-ethnicities re-emerged.
Globalized factors were clearly at work in Rwanda; international market pressures and demands for multi-party democratization clearly demonstrate the influence and importance of the forces of globalization. Kaldor’s ‘new war’ theory provides a link between these factors and offers an explanation of how this evolved into violent conflict. Kaldor suggests that “…during the 1980’s and 1990’s, a new type or organized violence has developed, especially in Africa and Eastern Europe, which is one aspect of the current globalized era. I describe this type of violence as ‘new war’. I use the term ‘new’ to distinguish these wars from prevailing perceptions of war drawn from an earlier era.”29 I suggest that the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Rwanda can be understood within this ‘new war’ paradigm.
Kaldor’s asserts that in a number of ways, ‘new wars’ are globalized conflicts - although they may be localised in terms of geographical location, their dependence on transnational networks for finance, support, mobilisation and thus, “…the distinction between internal and external, between aggression (attacks within the country) and repression (attacks from inside the country) or even between local and global are difficult to sustain.”30 The Rwandan genocide demonstrates the validity of this argument. Melvern suggests, “Rwanda’s violent divisions might have been easier to heal and its tragic history somewhat different had it not been for the involvement of outside interests.”31 The evidence of ‘outside interests’ from international trade to peace processes influencing the state of affairs in Rwanda is damning.
The influence and dependence of transnational networks was clearly demonstrated by the IMF and World Bank in the way they inadvertently financed the genocide when money was siphoned from Structural Adjustment Programs to purchase weaponry for the genocide; “The governments of both France and Egypt were intimately involved in arms deals with the extremists in Rwanda. In order to pay for them, money was taken from funds supplied by the international financial institutions.”32 The apathy of the international community to act despite their knowledge that money allocated for aid was being used to purchase arms had received widespread criticism. Alison des Forges suggests that, “Seeing the international indifference, Rwandans became convinced that the genocidal government would succeed. Those who hesitated at first now yielded to fear or opportunism and carried the slaughter throughout Rwanda.”33 Many suggest that the inaction of the international community signalled to the Rwandan government and Interahamwe that the genocide would be tolerated as an internal matter.
Transnational networks were important for the supply of arms. Although these imports of arms were somewhat disguised by the fact that the incumbent Hutu government was fighting a civil war against the RPF. “Arms, from machetes to rocket launchers were supplied by France, South Africa, Egypt and China.”34 Klare also notes the significance of arms imports in the Human Rights Watch 1994 report; “The multiplicity of suppliers facilitated the acquisition of arms by potential belligerents….Prior to the massacres of 1994, for instance, the government of Rwanda was able to purchase large quantities of small arms from producers in Egypt and South Africa.”35 The way in which the Rwandan government exploited globalization insofar as sourcing finance and arms from a multiplicity of international sources demonstrates the importance of globalization.
McNulty suggests great significance should be attached to this militarization; “Rwanda’s transformation in less than four years from a stable “hard state” to a “weapons state” and thence to a genocidal state would not have been possible had it not been for externally sponsored militarization.”36 This view is corroborated by a UN commissioned report published by the Danish Foreign Ministry; “[t]he influx of weapons from foreign sources to the Rwandese government as well as to the RPF contributed significantly to the civil war ….as well as to the massacres in 1994.”37 Goose and Smyth of the Human Rights Watch Arms Project emphasise the significance of imported small arms to the genocide; “[t]he proliferation of weapons in Rwanda expanded the conflict…Much of the killing was carried out with machetes, but automatic rifles and hand grenades were also commonly used. Their availability helped Hutu extremists carry out their slaughter on a horrendous scale…Rwandan authorities distributed large numbers of firearms to militia members and other supporters’ months before the genocide began.”38 The externally sponsored militarization of Rwanda was a key factor in the intransigence of the Rwandan state, enabling it to repel attempts to end the genocide for more than three months.
Globalization and Identity Politics
Kaldor suggests there is a link between the processes of globalization and resulting conflict due to identity politics; “[t]he political goals of the new wars are about the claim to power on the basis of seemingly traditional identities – nation, tribe, religion….New forms of power struggle may take the guise of traditional nationalism, tribalism, or communalism but they are, nevertheless, contemporary phenomena arising from contemporary causes and displaying new characteristics.”39 Thus according to Kaldor, the reinvention of ethnicity from the colonial era could be understood within the context of a contemporary power struggle within Rwanda. The Akuzu were desperate to prevent the corrosion of their political legitimacy and consolidate their privileged position of power which was rapidly declining in the face of multi-party democratisation and the inevitable RPF advance. It was in this context that the idea of Hutu and Tutsi as ethnically different people groups was reborn which although ostensibly a war of identity was in fact a contemporary power struggle within Rwanda.
The Interahamwe, directed by the Akuzu, began a war of identity, in a bid to eradicate anyone of a different identity. Kaldor suggests, “…the strategic goal of these wars is population expulsion through various means such as mass killing…”40 The Akuzu successfully incited the Hutus to mass killing in the belief that they were fighting for a century old cause, when in fact it was a war to preserve the power and prestige of the Akuzu. The Akuzu party were essential in laying the foundations for genocide and only interested in their claim to power which they could legitimise through an imagined and partially reconstructed history; “…there seems to be a relatively strong indication that the driving force behind the state organised mobilisation of the masses towards genocide was elite insecurity and the perceived need to secure power and privileges.”41 Globalized forces had weakened the regime and caused the Hutu elite to fear that their power and dominance would be compromised.
Whilst there had been some discrimination against Tutsi in years preceding the Arusha Accords, the power and influence of the Akuzu had not been threatened. As a result of that peace process, ‘neo-ethnicities’ emerged and can be clearly understood from, as Kaldor suggests, contemporary causes. Through the sponsored media, the Akuzu managed to engender within Hutus a fear of the RPF so that they were willing to murder those even within their own communities. Kaldor suggests this is a feature of new wars; “…in the new wars, mobilizing people is the aim of the war effort, to expand the networks of extremism. In the new wars, battles are rare and violence is directed against civilians. The strategy is to gain political power through sowing fear and hatred, to create a climate of terror, to eliminate moderate voices and to defeat tolerance.”42 To quash increasing political opposition within Rwanda, the Akuzu set Hutu against the Tutsi in the belief that the genocide would restore Hutu solidarity under their leadership and win the war against the RPF or at least improve terms at the negotiating table.
With the forces of globalization have paradoxically arisen forces of fragmentation; a dialectical response to globalization. As Smith recognises; “[i]n the era of globalization and transcendence, we find ourselves caught in a maelstrom of conflicts over political identities and ethnic fragmentation…”43 People excluded from power, or those at risk from being excluded seek for themselves new forms of identification to gain access to power and self actualisation. Kaldor suggests that, “[t]he term globalization conceals a complex process which actually involves both globalization and localization, integration and fragmentation, homogenization and differentiation, etc.”44 The alienation and disorientation created by globalization means that the conflicting dynamics arise. In Rwanda this was the impact of forced democratization whilst a power-hungry regime struggled to maintain power. Globalized forces push for integration and increased homogeneity while those looking to consolidate power and influence look to fragment society to establish support and differentiate themselves from their opponents.
Globalization de-legitimises the state and opens up the political space to contest ownership of the state. In Rwanda this can be seen in the way that the Arusha accords de-legitimised the incumbent government. According to Mamdani, "[t]he great paradox of Rwanda of the 1990s is that democratic reforms blossomed at the same time as the civil war raged. The former fed aspirations for individual and group freedom, the latter gave rise to demands for loyalty to the nation."45 The two processes could not continue side by side, except through generating great tension. It was in the Akuzu’s interest to maintain their power for which they required mass mobilisation and complicity for genocide. In the context of the concurrent Civil war with the RPF, this was neither a particularly ambitious nor hard task to achieve.
Kaldor believes that the “…new politics of particularistic identities can also be interpreted as a form of political mobilization in the face of the growing impotence of the modern state.”46 In the case of developing or emerging democracies, as was the case in Rwanda, there is truth in this argument - the influence of globalization in creating the Arusha Accords demonstrates how the, ‘impotence of the modern state’ rendered it open to extremism. However, the case of genocide in Rwanda, is not particularly widespread - globalized factors of financing, arming and multiparty democratisation have not in themselves created a global epidemic of genocide; Rwanda appears to be in many ways, unique.
Thus, to what extent genocide in Rwanda can be considered entirely a ‘contemporary phenomenon’ caused by the forces of globalization is questionable. Had it not been for the civil war, the ecological pressures and most obviously the history of Tutsi domination then I question whether or not genocide would have still occurred. Ethnicity reinvented to create hatred for Tutsi was clearly something new, but it was built upon an underlying tension that existed before the era of globalization. The ‘ethnicisation’ of Rwanda took place over a period of more than fifty years and as such I suggest, cannot be entirely understood to be the product of globalization.
The Rwandan genocide demonstrates the global impact of policy decisions which, whilst ostensibly conducive to economic development, can be in inimical for political development and the stability of the country. Demands made on a country in development can be problematic and however well intended, can have the opposite effect to that intended. Opening up government to greater extremism, as happened in Rwanda is clearly counter productive to the long term goals of development. Insofar as aid is, intrinsically, ‘interventionist’ and seeks to usurp engrained domestic dynamics it can be equally beneficial and problematic. Although it has incredible potential for good, drastically changing the social dynamics can be inimical to the long term progress of a country
Scheper-Hughes provides perhaps the most insightful understanding of globalization in understanding of what caused the Rwandan genocide; “What brought about the genocide were the usual dynamics of Rwandan society. These dynamics were certainly more intense and came together in a unique constellation that produced unique results, yet they were still so ordinary in the end.”47 I suggest this unique ‘constellation’ of dynamics can be understood to be partly due to the impact of globalization and partly embedded in the history of Rwanda. It is neither entirely a product of globalization, nor of history but a mix of historical processes and globalized forces which culminated in the creation of devastating dynamics.
This paper has demonstrated the dialectic forces of globalization and fragmentation; how increased global interconnectivity can simultaneously homogenise and alienate groups within society. It has revealed how the homogenising power of democracy can alienate groups such as the Akuza who in turn resort to extreme actions to try to retain their power. Although the forces of globalization have the potential for tremendous good they can equally be a force of unimaginable harm and destruction; even the ostensibly ‘good’ side of globalization can fail. The Rwandan genocide should serve both as a memory and a warning of the transforming forces of globalization.
Banton, M. Ethnic Hatred: Genocide in Rwanda, (ASEN Publications, 1995)
Berry, J. Genocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory, (Harvard University Press, 1999)
Gourevitch, P. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, (Picador, 2000)
Horowitz,I. Genocide: State Power and Mass Murder, (2nd Edition, Transaction Books, 1977)
Kaldor, M. New & Old Wars, Organized Violence in a Global Era, (Polity, 2001)
Keane, F. Season of Blood: Rwandan Journey, (Penguin Books, 1996)
Klare, M. Light Weapons and Civil Conflict: Controlling the Tools of Violence, (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1999)
Mamdani, M. When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda, (Princeton University Press, 2001)
Melvern, L. A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda's Genocide, (Zed Books 2000)
Prunier, G. The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide, (C. Hurst & Co. 1998)
Smith, A. Nations and Nationalism in a Global Era, (Polity Press, Oxford 1995)
Andersen, R. “How multilateral development assistance triggered the conflict in Rwanda”, Third World Quarterly, 21:3
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
McNulty, M. “French Arms, War and Genocide in Rwanda”, Crime, Law and Social Change, 33:1-2, 2000
Patterson, J. “Rwandan Refugees”, Nature, No. 373, 1995
Percival, V. & Homer-Dixon, T. “Environmental scarcity and violent conflict: the case of Rwanda”, Journal of Environment and Development, 5:3
Scheper-Hughes, N. “Small Wars and Invisible Genocides”, Social Science and Medicine, 43:5, 1996
Uvin, P. “Prejudice, Crises and Genocide in Rwanda”, African Studies Review, 40:2 1997
Uvin, P. “Reading the Rwandan Genocide”, International Studies Review, 3:3, 2001
M. Kaldor, “Wanted: Global Politics”, The Nation, November 2001, http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20011105&s=kaldor available at 13.04.05
Des Forges, A, “Human Rights Watch Report: Leave None to Tell the Story”
http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/rwanda/Geno1-3-09.htm#P202_84408 available at 10.04.05
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
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, “Under the Volcanoes: Special Focus on the Rwandan Refugee Crisis”, in World Disasters Report, IFRCRCS, 1994
Sellstrom T. & Wohlgemuth, L. “The International Response to Conflict and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwanda Experience”, JEEAR, Copenhagen, 1996
de Waal, A.. “Racial Fantasies”, The Times Literary Supplement, London, No.4761
1 Melvern, L. A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda's Genocide, (Zed Books 2000) p.4
2 Prunier, G.The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide, (C. Hurst & Co. 1998), p.xii
3 R. Andersen, “How multilateral development assistance triggered the conflict in Rwanda”, Third World Quarterly, 21:3, p.443
4 Uvin, P.“Prejudice, Crises and Genocide in Rwanda”, African Studies Review, 40:2 1997, pp.91-115
5 Uvin, P.”Reading the Rwandan Genocide”, International Studies Review, 3:3, 2001, p.81
6 Uvin, P.”Reading the Rwandan Genocide”, International Studies Review, 3:3, 2001, p.76
7 Keane, F. Season of Blood: Rwandan Journey, (Penguin Books, 1996) p.11
9 Waal, A. de. “Racial Fantasies”, The Times Literary Supplement, London, No.4761, p.4
10 Andersen, R. “How multilateral development assistance triggered the conflict in Rwanda”, Third World Quarterly, 21:3, p.444
11 Gourevitch, P. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, (Picador, 2000) p.196
12 Mamdani, M. When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda, (Princeton University Press, 2001) p.196
13 Percival, V.& Homer-Dixon, T. “Environmental scarcity and violent conflict: the case of Rwanda”, Journal of Environment and Development, 5:3, p.282
14 Horowitz,I. Genocide: State Power and Mass Murder, (2nd Edition, Transaction Books, 1977), p.79
15 Uvin, P. “Reading the Rwandan Genocide”, International Studies Review, 3:3, 2001, p.81
16 The idea of a country’s ‘carrying capacity’ is taken from Uvin, P. “Reading the Rwandan Genocide”, International Studies Review, 3:3, 2001, p.82
17 International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, “Under the Volcanoes: Special Focus on the Rwandan Refugee Crisis”, in World Disasters Report, IFRCRCS, 1994 p.393
18 Patterson, J. “Rwandan Refugees”, Nature, No. 373, 1995, p.185
19 Quoted in, Berry, J. Genocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory, (Harvard University Press, 1999) p.80
20 Prunier, G.The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide, (C. Hurst & Co. 1998), p.4
21 Figure quoted in Andersen, R. “How multilateral development assistance triggered the conflict in Rwanda”, Third World Quarterly, 21:3, p.447
22 Sellstrom T.& Wohlgemuth, L. “The International Response to Conflict and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwanda Experience”, JEEAR, Copenhagen, 1996, p.20
23 Chossudovsky, M. “Economic Genocide in Rwanda”, Economic and Political Weekly (India) 13, April, 1996, p.939
24 Sellstrom T.& Wohlgemuth, L. “The International Response to Conflict and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwanda Experience”, JEEAR, Copenhagen, 1996, p.20
25 Andersen, R. “How multilateral development assistance triggered the conflict in Rwanda”, Third World Quarterly, 21:3, p.449
26 Adelmann, H.& Suhrke, A. “Early warning and conflict management”, “The International Response to Conflict and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwanda Experience”, JEEAR, Copenhagen, 1996, p.23
27 The opposition to the implementation of the Arusha Accords by the Akuzu is widely documented but evidence can be found in the Human Rights Watch Report: http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/rwanda/Geno1-3-09.htm#P202_84408 10th April 2005
28 Percival, V.& Homer-Dixon, T. “Environmental scarcity and violent conflict: the case of Rwanda”, Journal of Environment and Development, 5:3, p.287
29 Kaldor, M. New & Old Wars, Organized Violence in a Global Era, (Polity, 2001), pp.1-2
30 Kaldor, M. New & Old Wars, Organized Violence in a Global Era, (Polity, 2001), p.2
31 Melvern, L. A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda's Genocide, (Zed Books 2000) p.24
32 Melvern, L. A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda's Genocide, (Zed Books 2000) p.5
33 Des Forges, A. “Shame – Rationalizing Western Apathy on Rwanda”, Foreign Affairs, 79:3, 2000, p.141
34 Melvern, L. A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda's Genocide, (Zed Books 2000) p.5
35 Klare, M. Light Weapons and Civil Conflict: Controlling the Tools of Violence, (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1999) p.18
36 McNulty, M. “French Arms, War and Genocide in Rwanda”, Crime, Law and Social Change, 33, 2000, pp.107-8
37 JEEAR, “The International Response to Conflict and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwanda Experience”, JEEAR, Copenhagen, 1996, p.67
38 Goose S. & Smyth, F. “Arming Genocide in Rwanda”,Foreign Affairs 73:5, 1994, p.90
39 Kaldor, M. New & Old Wars, Organized Violence in a Global Era, (Polity, 2001), pp.69-70
40 Kaldor, M. New & Old Wars, Organized Violence in a Global Era, (Polity, 2001), p.8
41 Andersen, R. “How multilateral development assistance triggered the conflict in Rwanda”, Third World Quarterly, 21:3, p.445
42 M. Kaldor, “Wanted: Global Politics”, The Nation, November 2001, http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20011105&s=kaldor 13th April 2005
43 Smith, A. Nations and Nationalism in a Global Era, (Polity Press, Oxford 1995) p.2-3
44 Kaldor, M. New & Old Wars, Organized Violence in a Global Era, (Polity, 2001), p.71
45 Mamdani, M. When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda, (Princeton University Press, 2001) p.208
46 Kaldor, M. New & Old Wars, Organized Violence in a Global Era, (Polity, 2001), p.76
47 Scheper-Hughes, N. “Small Wars and Invisible Genocides”, Social Science and Medicine, 43:5, 1996, p.889