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Constructivist Theory in the US Non-Intervention in Rwanda, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 657

Essay

According to constructivist theory, defense of human rights should be followed by interventions. For instance, the government of United States was required to intervene in the 1994’s Rwandan genocide to protect human rights (Allan 85). Instead, the United States government buried the information in order to justify its inaction. Constructivist theory can be used to explain the inactivity of United States government. The genocide continued in a period of three months by the US president at the time, Bill Clinton, did not show any interests to intervene. He acted as a bystander as the death toll rose to about 800,000. His marginalia suggested that he was not aware of the situation in Rwanda (Allan 85). A report that was released in 1998 explained why the US government did not intervene in the genocide where almost all Tutsis were eliminated in the country.

According to constructivists, warnings about the genocide were resisted in the US government (Aptel 173). The government withdrew its peacekeeping troops from Kigali since it did not to be involved in an African “quagmire” or “civil war.” It neglected the “cognitive dissonance” of reports of the ranging killings in Rwanda, which would have created a moral responsibility to intervene. The government also ignored General Dallaire’s reports, which called for intervention, but relied on cable reports from David Rawson, American Ambassador, which stated that the killings were just an episode of civil war (Power 108). This was an effort to prove that this genocide was not one-sided. Constructivists also base their argument on the David Rawson point of view. He was born and raised in Rwanda and spoke Tutsi’s native language. He confirmed that the genocide was a civil that did not require international intervention. His defense for the US actions was denial of facts and the real situation in Rwanda.

US non-intervention can also be attributed to legal malpractice. The office of the State Legal Advisor was asked by The State Department of African Affairs to describe the situation in Rwanda (Appiah and Gates 34). In response to the question, Ms. Joan Donoghue confirmed that the massacres in Rwanda constitute genocide and called the US to intervene. Later, her oral statement was followed by written opinions that disregarded her claims. On legal basis, the world’s Genocide Convention enforces no legal obligations to stop genocide (Power 105). It requires passage of national laws to outlaw genocide, and extradition or prosecution of suspected perpetrators. Article 8 of the Convention states that any of the contracting parties call upon the competent structures of United Nations to suppress genocide, but this is not a legal requirement.

Additionally, State Department policy makers and lawyers refused to refer to the Rwandan massacre as genocide because they did not want to act (Appiah and Gates 35). They referred to the country’s situation as a “civil war” since this would call for non-intervention. Clinton Administration stated clearly that it would act as a bystander in African affairs after some of its army members were killed in a peacekeeping mission in Somalia (Power 105). Lack of sufficient information of the intent of the massacre led to the US’s conclusion that that was a civil war with some aspects of genocide. US disregarded the fact that civil war and genocide are correlative, but are not mutually exclusive (Aptel 175). The other defense was legal definition, which denies that mass massacre fits the definition of genocide. From these views, the US wanted Rwanda to resolve its domestic problems independently without international intervention.

Works Cited

Alan, Kuperman. The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention: Genocide in Rwanda. Washington, D.C: The Brookings Institution Press, 2001:  Print.

Appiah, Anthony and Gates, Henry Louis. Encyclopedia of Africa, Volume 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2010. Print.

Aptel, Cicile. Closing the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: Completion Strategy and Residual Issues. New England Journal of International and Comparative Law, 14 (2), 169–188. 2008.

Power, Samantha. A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, New York: Basic Books, 2002. Print.

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