Germany and the Rwandan genocide: New evidence from the German Foreign
Heinrich Böll Foundation
Judence Kayitesi, Author (“A Broken Life”) and Rwandan genocide survivor
Andreas Mehler, University of Freiburg
Anton Peez, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF/HSFK)
Antonia Witt (Chair), Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF/HSFK)
This roundtable will discuss insights from the first public study of German Foreign Office files on Rwanda before and during the 1994 genocide. The study examines how German authorities assessed the Rwandan political landscape leading up to the genocide, German contributions to UN peacekeeping, which decisions were made, and how they were internally justified.
The prevention of genocide is a key pillar of German foreign policy. But how does this translate practically? In both public discourse and academia, knowledge about Germany’s specific role in the build-up and during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda is still limited. Against this background, this roundtable will present and discuss the results of the first public study of German Foreign Office files on Rwanda before and during the 1994 genocide.
Published and funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, and building on previous work, both public and initially classified, the study asks how German authorities assessed the Rwandan political landscape leading up to the genocide. We further examine which political decisions were subsequently made and how they were internally and publicly justified. The study situates the German diplomatic response and emergency preparedness within broader German Africa policy at the time. Finally, the study asks which lessons can be learned from Germany’s policy towards Rwanda in 1993–1994 for today’s efforts to prevent conflicts and mass atrocities.
The roundtable brings together genocide survivor and Author Judence Kayitesi, Arnold Bergstraesser Institute director Professor Andreas Mehler, and a co-author of the study (Anton Peez). The roundtable will critically discuss the report’s findings and situate them into the broader picture of Germany’s (diplomatic) role in Africa. Not least, this also provides an opportunity to reflect on the potentials and limits of dialogue between academia and policy-makers; and how contemporary empirical scholarship on the diverse challenges to peace and security on the African continent can be (better) used to inform policy debates.