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The Aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide

Dublin Core


The Aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide


Genocide -- Rwanda.
United Nations -– Security Council.


Oral history video clip featuring Gregory Stanton, Director, Genocide Watch. This video was originally produced by Media Entertainment, Inc., for the 2000 documentary The Genocide Factor.


Media Entertainment, Inc.


Genocide Factor Collection, Oral History Program, Tampa Library,
University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.


Tampa, Fla. : University of South Florida Tampa Library.




Stanton, Gregory


Tape number: 4061D


video / mp4




Oral History



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Proctor, Cecily


Stanton, Gregory


I was in the State Department. I in fact went to work in an office that directly had to deal with the aftermath of that genocide. One of the first things I did in that office was to ask why. Why did we make this terrible mistake? And one of the things that I found out was that those in the State Department who were having to make the policies, first of all, didn’t believe the reports that were coming in. They tried to deny the facts, and that’s a very common thing. I don’t just blame it on them; I blame it on a human tendency to try to deny the terrible evil that they are hearing coming in. I mean, who can believe that all those thousands of people are being killed? And so the first reaction to genocide is denial, you know, and that was the reaction in the State Department. In fact, the initial cables coming in from our embassy in Kigali were cables, which fuzzed the issue, which didn’t make it clear that it was mainly Tutsis who were being targeted. They made it look like it was a general civil war. And so in one of the key policy meetings very early on in that genocide, one of the State Department lawyers got up and said, “Well, we aren’t sure this is genocide, because under the Genocide Convention it has to be the targeting of a specific ethnic group, and we’re not sure this is the case.” Well, of course that State Department lawyer was wrong. But it took the State Department weeks before the State Department was even willing to call this a genocide. And, much to the dismay of the State Department—and, in fact, to the shame of the State Department—it took us a long time to call what was clearly a genocide by its proper name. So that was one of the first problems, calling a genocide by its proper name. The second problem was that we didn’t have a proper estimate of what it would take to stop the genocide. A lot of people thought that it would take a lot of troops to stop it, that we didn’t have enough people there to do it. In fact, at the UN Security Council at the time, a lot of the delegates kept saying, “Well, we only have 2,500 troops in Rwanda. How can they possibly stop a massive genocide in Rwanda?” The truth is, of course, that the genocide was being carried out by people with machetes. And 2,500 heavily—well, lightly armed, even—infantry could have done a huge service, and could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Now, General Dallaire, who was the head of the UN troops there, said that. He told the UN that he could make a huge contribution to saving lives, and he asked, in fact, for an increased mandate and for additional reinforcements to stop the genocide. But instead, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to withdraw all of the UN troops. It was a tragic mistake, a terrible mistake, one that caused 800,000 lives. And I look at it now, as a human being, as an American: I see it as yet another of these terrible tragedies of this century, in which genocide has once again been responded to with indifference at the beginning, with confusion, and then with inaction.

Original Format

Beta tape




Media Entertainment, Inc., “The Aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide,” USF Library Special & Digital Collections Exhibits, accessed January 25, 2020,