Round Two Of Hutus v. Tutsis?

According to the Economist, violence between Congo and Tutsi rebels is erupting into a full-scale war in North Kivu after the collapse of the January peace deal.  At the root of the problem are the Democratic Forces For The Liberation Of Rwanda (FDLR) which is composed of former Rwandan soldiers and Hutu extremists who orchestrated the 1994 genocides; and Rwanda’s Tutsi-led army.  Rwanda’s army is determined to crush the FDLR, and has also accused the Congolese army of colluding with the FDLR – with credible evidence.  Since the collapse of the January peace deal, over 100,000 people have had to flee their homes since mid-August due to ongoing violence in the region.

Let’s not forget what happened the last time round – hopefully lessons can be learnt from past mistakes.  In the 1994 genocide of Tutsis to create a complete Hutu state, around 1 million people were killed.  Due to the disastrous mission in Somalia, the US were highly reluctant to get involved in another such mission, or to support other countries who were willing to help.  As stated by political thinker Chris Brown, the US, Britain and France referred to events as ‘ethnic violence’ or ‘civil war’, rather than the term ‘genocide’ for fear of bringing into play the Genocide Convention with the obligation it lays on the international community (Brown, Chris. Sovereignty, Rights and Justice: International Political Theory Today. Cambridge: Polity Press 2002, p.134-159).  In 1993 a UN peace-keeping mission was sent to Rwanda, however this turned out to be more disastrous due to them having little mandate or reinforcements; how can a non-violent peace keeping mission operate when there is, effectively, no peace to keep?

Currently it appears there could be a potential repeat of previous events if the UN does not act fast.  Earlier this month, the head of the UN in Congo appealed for more troops to end the violence, however troops are being earmarked for the Darfur mission in Sudan and thus, if Rwanda does invade Congo, UN troops will once again have too little capacity or mandate to stop the violence.  

The way I see it, the troops the US insists on deploying in places like Iraq could be better utilised in missions such as these, where there is an ongoing conflict that needs to be resolved from the grassroots.  Once again, I begin to question these ‘humanitarian interventions’ – whose interests are they in?  Is less attention being paid to Rwanda because they do not have oil or resources which could benefit the intervening countries?  

If another fully fledged war does erupt in Congo, I can only hope that an adequate amount of troops will this time be deployed, this time with a clear mandate and proper equipment and resources.  Moreover, countries need to be prepared for a long-term deployment of troops to stabilise the country and prevent rebel forces from being mobilised.  Furthermore, we cannot once again ignore the large-scale destruction of human lives.  With the notable increase of 24 hour rolling media, it is inexcusable to once again turn a blind eye.  If it is genocide, it is genocide – it cannot be named by any other term such as ‘civil war’ or ‘ethnic violence’.  If we want our voices to be heard and help to save the lives if potential victims of inhuman violence, we should perhaps turn to NGOs such as Amnesty International to campaign and help such causes.  After all, as stated in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ‘Everyone has the right to live’.

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