Prelude to Genocide: Arusha, Rwanda, and the Failure of Diplomacy
ADST-DACOR Book Launch
On April 6, 1994, two air-to-ground missiles hit the Dassault Falcon jet bringing Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana back home to Kigali from a regional summit in Dar es Salaam, killing all aboard. The contending parties in the country’s long-running civil conflict thereupon returned to war, instead of working out the arrangements of democratic governance and power sharing based on the hard-won principles of the August 1993 Arusha Accords.
David Rawson had participated in 1992 as the initial U.S. Observer in the peace talks at Arusha, Tanzania, and later served as U.S. ambassador to Rwanda during the last months of the doomed effort to make the Arusha agreements hold. In Prelude to Genocide, Rawson draws on declassified documents and his personal involvement to seek out what went wrong. What was the context in which the downing of the president’s plane engendered genocide? How did the international community help structure that context? Rawson examines the international diplomatic and humanitarian intervention in Rwanda and asks what lessons might be learned from the nearly four-year international effort that failed to halt the conflict between the Hutu-dominated Rwandan government and the Tutsi Patriotic Front and to establish peace and security for Rwanda’s people.
“Rawson puts the bottom line up front – Arusha failed because the parties to the talks were seeking power, not peace... This book is the definitive work on the Arusha talks and the most detailed and best-documented account of a diplomatic negotiation that I know of.”
––Robert E. Gribbin III, former U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda and author of In the Aftermath of Genocide: The U.S. Role in Rwanda
The result of Rawson’s blow-by-blow account of political negotiations in Arusha and party wrangling in Kigali is a commanding blend of diplomatic history and analysis of the humanitarian crisis in Rwanda and what can happen when conflict resolution and diplomacy fall short.
As U.S. ambassador to Rwanda from December 1993 through January 1996, Dav id Rawson managed the safe evacuation of Americans during the genocidal civil war. He returned in July 1994 to direct U.S. humanitarian operations. As ambassador to Mali (1996–99), he supervised major development efforts, the largest Peace Corps presence in Africa, and a growing military assistance program. Prior posts included Madagascar, Somalia, Senegal, and earlier postings to Mali and Rwanda. At State he was director of West African affairs and senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Foreign Affairs. He holds MA and PhD degrees from American University, was a fellow at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School, and has taught at colleges in Ohio, Michigan, and now Oregon. His publications include The Somali State and Foreign Aid (1993) and numerous book chapters and articles.
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