Apologies

19 Nov 2012

In an excerpt from Interventions: A Life in War and Peace by Kofi Annan – review by Rory Stewart in The Guardian, below, the position of Annan, who was Head of Peacekeeping Operations at the time is set out.

General Dallaire, the UN commander in Rwanda, asked permission to seize a Hutu arms cache in January 1994, and thus pre-empt plans for mass killing in the capital. Dallaire and many others believe that such early action might have prevented a genocide. Annan’s office ordered Dallaire not to act; and Annan, then in charge of peacekeeping operations at the UN, decided not to pass on his request to the security council. To his credit, Annan does not duck this issue in his memoir. He carefully prints Dallaire’s call for assistance. He does not try to discredit Dallaire, but instead praises his moral courage and his decision to stay behind when his troops had been withdrawn. He admits that the UN “had no genuine, deep expertise on the country”. And he accepts responsibility for not contacting the security council. But having made the case against himself, Annan does not apologise.

Though the United Nations Security Council accepts some responsibility for the genocide, as Annan does here too, neither the UN nor Annan have apologised for their lack of action.

Others have offered apologies, including President Clinton and the Belgian Government.

However, such apologies only go some way to acknowledge the loss of the survivors. That is why, in the lead up to the 20th Anniversary of the Genocide in April 2014, Survivors Fund (SURF) and its partner organisations will be focusing efforts on the United Nations, to try secure not only a formal apology, but also a contribution towards reparation for survivors in Rwanda.