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Literature Review of Genocide in Rwanda(1)

Literature Review of Genocide in Rwanda(1)

Literature Review of Genocide in Rwanda: Leadership, ethics and organizational failure in post-colonial context



Literature Review of Genocide in Rwanda: Leadership, ethics and organizational failure in post-colonial context

During mid-1994, more than 800,000 Tutsi and a moderate number of Hutus were killed in the Rwandan genocide (Long, Grant, Mills, Gaudet & Warren, 2009, p271). The international community failed to prevent and end the genocide. This happened not because they had no ability to do so, but they lacked better organizational structures and a good process of decision making. Also, the reason why the genocide spread at a faster pace was due to failure of organizations such as the United Nations, which is one of the largest organizations in the world. The Rwandan experiences during the year 1994 are occurrences that are beyond the approach of organizational analysis. Such occurrences are not appropriate to be applied to the current organizational and structural analysis. Surprisingly, the genocide had, not only well organized structures, but also depended on militia, the Rwandan government and the police force. The genocide spread fast because of organizational failure. The aspect of organizational failure is blamed on the United Nations, which was reluctant and also unwilling to end the genocide, despite its troops in the nation which were led by Romeo Dallaire. The case of genocide in Rwanda depicts organizational issues such as leadership, ethics and organizational structure

After the occurrence of the Rwandan genocide, the commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) Romeo Dallaire blamed himself for poor leadership skills. The case study highlights how Dallaire confessed of his poor leadership skills because he did not succeed in convincing the United Nations as well as the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) of the seriousness of the situation in Rwanda. However, from his grief, Romeo blamed the United Nations for its ill manner in tackling the Rwandan genocide. Romeo Dallaire also stated that, even though he had good military training as well as basic humanitarian and political skills, the United Nations rules and regulations were too strict that he could not make use of his militia skills (Long, Grant, Mills, Gaudet & Warren, 2009, p275). In addition, his troops, which he was supposed to command, were commanded by their nations. As such, Dallaire’s hands were tied since his troops sometimes openly refused to adhere to his command, if their nations of origin felt that it was not necessary. According to Romeo’s recommendations, the United Nations organizational structure needs to undergo a renaissance. It is only through a renaissance that the organization would not be restricted to its bureaucrats, secretariat and administration and instead, include the member countries. However, it will be important for the member countries to rethink their roles and also commit to renewing their purpose. Failure to implement such measures, Romeo Dallaire believes that humanity will perish while the United Nations continues to be irrelevant (Weiss, 2013, p23).

After the post-colonial period, other organizations were formed. For example, the Organization of Africa Union (OAU) currently known as the Africa union (AU) also failed in its mission to prevent the genocide. With all the equipments and resources that the organization had in place, it failed miserably. The fact is that some of its key leaders collaborated with the conflicting parties. This was a demonstration of unethical behavior in leadership. There were no common goals in decision making. Also, during this time, other world superpowers such as the USA demonstrated poor leadership skills by advising the United Nations to withdraw from Rwanda since they didn’t have any national interests in the country. The nation ignored its political responsibility and allowed hundreds of Rwandese to perish. By doing so, the United States seemed to have been in support of the Tutsi interests. This was once again unethical.

The United Nations had poor leadership. This made the decision making process almost impossible. Leaders of the organization were not serious with what was happening in Rwanda. The mode of decision making (rational/unitary), which focused on hierarchical authority was so slow that a lot of time was taken during the process (Heffernan, 2014, p18). Also, a lot of people were involved in the decision making process. When Romeo Dallaire was asked to assess the situation in Rwanda and make a report to the United Nations, the report had four options. Although the first two options were the best for the Rwandan situation, the United Nations, after a long time of decision making process concluded that Romeo Dallaire had no option, but to adopt option three. Also, he was reminded that it could take three months or more for the deployment decision to get through. The UN, despite the urgency of the situation in Rwanda, sent 2,500 troops. The slow decision making process can also be blamed for the failure in preventing and ending the Rwandan genocide. Dallaire’s report passed through many hands before it was agreed upon. The report was passed from the DPKO leadership to the UN secretary general, then to the Security Council and then voted out. This shows that there was group decision making (Pettinger, 2010, p12), and this was not important, especially in times of emergency like what was happening in Rwanda. If the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) had not flown to New York to lobby the UN to speed up the process, then the situation in Rwanda could have worsened.

During the decision making process, there are different decisional roles. One of the roles is resource allocation (Barnett, 2014, p9). Resources are very important if any organizational projects are to be implemented. This was not so during the Rwandan genocide situation. Although Dallaire returned to Rwanda with the enthusiasm to monitor the fragile peace, one of the challenges he encountered was the lack of resources. The united nations, together with the supporting nations such as Bangladesh, France and Belgium did not offer enough resources to the troops in Rwanda. Most importantly, after his arrival in Rwanda, the situation was worsened by what happened in Burundi. The United Nations failed to supply more troops. Dallaire was also forced to return his Mercedes and live like any other soldier. Food was also limited, and they were forced to share the little they had. They also lacked serviced vehicles, machinery, equipment and lodgings. This was a frustration among the soldiers. This could have led to their demoralization in ensuring peace in Rwanda.

The government system of Rwanda had poor organizational structures. The government did not ensure equality between the Tutsi and Hutu after independence. The country’s wealth was enjoyed by the Tutsi under the expense of the Hutu. They also had a higher status in the country. Although this ethnic diversity was brought about by the Belgium colony, it should have been abolished after independence (Bellamy Alex & Paul, Williams, 2010, p14). It can be said that poor governance was a reason for the genocide even after the Arusha accords. The government could have had departments which ensured that all Rwandese were attended equally. As such, the Hutu could never have thought of warring against the Tutsi. During the time of the genocide, the conflicting parties were the Tutsi and Hutu. This indicated that the government had poor leadership and was unethical as the leadership was based on tribal grounds. Organizational leadership focuses on equality and respect for all.

Coordination is one of the major aspects of leadership. In order for decisions to be implemented, those involved should have a common goal. The United Nations troops led by Dallaire, despite the challenges they were facing were working well to ensure peace. Dallaire was in charge of both military and political operations until Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh arrived and took charge of the political aspects and also acted as the overall head of the mission (Jacobson, 2012, p8). Booh-Booh and his staff had an absurd work ethic and political approach. There was no coordination between Dallaire, Booh-Booh and the chief administration officer who allocated more resources to the civilians and ignored the staff. This was unethical, and Dallaire’s attempt to have him rejected was overlooked by the United Nations. Also, after there were several killings in the demilitarized zone, Dallaire recommended to Booh-Booh about the search and seize of the weapons that were used. Surprisingly, Booh-Booh refused the request, arguing that it would damage the peace process, and the UN troops would be seen as if taking action only against the government. Also, Booh-Booh frustrated Dallaire’s report to DPKO in which he had requested for phase two troops and logistical support. From this, it can be understood that, although UN officials in Rwanda were sent for the same purpose, they had different ideas, and there was no coordination to achieve a common goal. This led to UN failure to prevent and end the genocide.

It can be concluded that, although Dallaire is blamed for the genocide in Rwanda. The United Nations is the one to blame. It lacked good leadership and decision making process. Its organizational structure was also a failure. The government of Rwanda and its organizational structure is also to blame. For any project to be fully and well implemented, good leadership, organizational structure and good ethics are important.


Barnett, M. 2014. “The United Nations Security Council in Rwanda,” International Decision-Making in the Age of Genocide. Washington, DC: Geroge Washington University.

Bellamy, Alex J. & Paul D. Williams, (eds). 2010. Understanding Peacekeeping, 2nd Ed, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Heffernan, M. 2014. Topic: Decision Making. Melbourne: RMIT University. Www. Rmit.edu.au

Jacobson, T. W. 2012. U.N. Peacekeeping: Few Successes, Many Failures, Inherent Flaws. Washington, DC: International Diplomacy & Public Policy Center, LLC.

Long, B. S., Grant, J., Mills, A. J., Gaudet, E. R. & Warren, A. 2009. Genocide in Rwanda: Leadership, Ethics, and Organizational “Failure” in a Postcolonial Context. Published in Raufflet and Mills (eds.), The Dark Side: Critical Cases in the Downside of Business. Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing, pp. 268-289.

Pettinger, R. 2010, Organizational Behavior: Performance management in practice. Routledge, London. Chapter 20.

Weiss, T. G. 2013. What’s Wrong with the United Nations and How to Fix it. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, pp288.

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