The genocide that devastated Rwanda in 1994 is one of history’s darkest moments, with around 10,000 people killed each day for over three months. This week marks 20 years since the “100 Days of Genocide,” which was ignited when then President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down in the capital Kigali on the 6th of April. Over 100 days around 800,000 people were slaughter by Hutu extremists. While the main targets were members of the minority Tutsi community, political opponents and so called “sympathetic Hutus” were also targeted.
If you are unfamiliar with the history of Rwanda, the genocide itself, the limitations of the UN mandate in Rwanda during that time or the much discussed inaction of the international community, I strongly recommend you to visit the Genocide museum. If you can’t make the trip to Kigali in person, the website provides an incredible amount of information on how the genocide was able to happen, what happened and who is responsibile, as well as the the process of reconciliation all Rwandans have undertaken.
Rwanda continues to make a remarkable recovery from the dark days of the genocide only 21 years ago. Much of the success of this recovery can be attributed to the various process of reconciliation that have taken place throughout the country, and the impact this has had on heeling the nation and allowing all Rwandans to progress.
Many have paid tribute to the grassroots justice system of the Gacaca courts, where over two million people were tried for their role in violence during the genocide.
Others praise the leadership of current President Paul Kagame for his zero tolerance of corruption, among other policies, that have seen significant growth and development of the small East African nation.
Despite huge achievements in reconciliation, Rwanda still faces many challenges; with a population of 11.46 million, 44.9% of which live below the poverty line, it is safe to say that Rwanda still has a long road ahead.
However the future for Rwanda is looking bright. The country has seen a steady improvement on key “Pillars of Peace” over the last ten years. The Pillars of Peace can be understood as the attitudes, structures and institutions that underpin peaceful societies. When these Pillars are strong, countries have high levels of “positive peace” and are less likely to fall into violent conflict.
Rwanda has improved significantly in overall levels of positive peace, more specifically on the indicators of human development, control of corruption and government effectiveness.
Kwibuka means “remember” in Kinyarwandan. Today, the world must stop and remember those who fell victim to the brutal horrors of the genocide.
In remembering those who were killed, we should also recognise those who are vulnerable. From Syria to the Central African Republic, we should use this day to ask ourselves what we can do to create a more peaceful world.
Our latest research report, the Pillars of Peace, explores the attitudes and institutions that underpin peaceful societies.
Vision of Humanity is an initiative of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). IEP have offices in New York and Sydney. For more specific inquiries related to the peace indexes and research, please contact IEP directly.