The 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda was a decisive event in world politics. It raised questions about the responsibility of the international community and the ability of its institutions to act in the face of the most serious crimes against humanity. The investigation of unresolved questions continues to this day. For Germany, this includes the question of the Federal Government’s conduct before and during the genocide.
In their study titled “Akteneinsichten. Die deutsche Außenpolitik und der Völkermord in Ruanda”, published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Sarah Brockmeier and Anton Peez shed light on Germany’s role with the help of specifically declassified files from the German Federal Foreign Office. Their analysis shows that German diplomats in 1993 and 1994 were better informed about the situation on the ground than previously assumed, but underestimated the emerging danger and overlooked important warnings.
In addition to political misjudgments, the paper also traces inter-ministerial disagreements within the German government that prevented greater involvement in the Rwandan peace process and support for the UN peacekeeping mission prior to and during the genocide. In order to avoid repeating these mistakes in the future, the authors propose the increased use of “Early Warning” systems in German foreign policy as well as expanding interdepartmental strategies for “Early Action” in response to such warnings.