In a previous post, we presented the different stages of the deconflictualisation process enabled by the cindynical method. Before reducing the prospective divergences between actors, it is necessary to reduce the disparities in perception of reality. The cindynical method formally distinguishes systemic disparities and topological disparities. This post examines the topological disparities between the Duclert report and the perceptions of other actors.


An initial observation is the virtual absence of mention of the Clinton administration in the Duclert report. This omission is noticed when you listen to Edouard Balladur, French Prime Minister at the time of the Tutsi genocide. He recently mentioned the systematic obstruction of Madeleine Albright at the UN Security Council. And US behavior in the Security Council at that time has been widely described.  Thus we discover important topological disparities, and actors who are considered or not. And therefore different stories and points of view.

The work of the Duclert commission was commissioned by the French presidency. And as Emmanuel Macron wanted to clarify the role of France, it seems normal that the report focuses on French actions. However, the President's mission letter also mentioned the need to take into account the role of other actors. Which incites to investigate the role of the Clinton administration in this matter.

It is Médecins Sans Frontières1 who traced the inability of the UN to intervene directly to the US intervention fiasco in Somalia. For Alain Destexhe, then Secretary General of MSF, the death of US soldiers shocked American public so much that Bill Clinton had to rethink his intervention policy. And Oxfam2 also expressed a similar opinion, and urged to review the UN policy of peacekeeping induced by the US experiences in Somalia.

"At the State Department, officials marveled at France’s diplomatic success."
Colum Lynch3

According to Colum Lynch, as early as 1993, when France wanted a UN mission to replace the Opération Noroît, the Clinton administration was against it. And if ultimately the UNAMIR did indeed take over from France within the framework of the Arusha accords, it is only because the Clinton administration gave in under French pressure4 . They feared that if they continued to oppose the creation of the UNAMIR mission, then France would withdraw its troops from Somalia.

Dorn and Matloff explain the UN unwillingness to intervene in Rwanda through the influence of the Clinton administration. The United States had a leading and dominant role in the Security Council, and the events in Somalia had prompted them to very restrictively review their humanitarian intervention policy. These restrictions were formalised in PDD 255 , a confidential directive which Bill Clinton signed on 3 may 1994. A summary version of PDD 25 was declassified6 in early May 1994.

David Scheffer admits that the PDD 25 directive had a profound impact on the United States' posture, and that the criteria of this directive notably pointed toward UNAMIR withdrawal7 . And according to him, even though the events of October 1993 in Somalia did lead to some revisions of PDD 25, the drafting of this directive had in fact started in February 1993. And it was almost completed even before the events of the "Blackhawk down".

According to Flavia Gasbarri8 although the events in Somalia reinforced the US reluctance to intervene during the genocide, they were not the primary motivation for the PDD 25 directive nor the main reason why this document was applied to the Rwandan case. PDD 25 was more broadly part of a reformulation of US-UN relations from the end of the Cold War.

After Juvenal Habyarimana's plane was shot down on April 6, 1994, the United States fully backed the withdrawal of the Belgian troops from the UNAMIR, and strongly advocated the withdrawal9 of UNAMIR from Rwanda. For David Scheffer, the US position was that UNAMIR could not satisfy its new criteria10 to guide UN peacekeeping deployments. Washington had instructed Madeleine Albright to obtain the withdrawal of UNAMIR. Yet, non-aligned  and African states opposed the withdrawal of UNAMIR. Ultimately, on April 21 the Security Council adopted a resolution maintaining the UNAMIR, but reducing it to 270 personnel. This number was too low to deter the genocidaires11 . Anyway, the mandate did not presume that they could.

According to Flavia Gasbarri, the US opposition to a larger involvment in Rwanda grew stronger12 in early May, when Boutros Boutros-Ghali asked to  reinforce UNAMIR with 5,500 soldiers. The United States considered in particular that such an intervention would be too dangerous for the troops involved if a ceasefire was not obtained beforehand. The US objections significantly delayed the UN resolution authorising UNAMIR II, which was finally approved on May 17.

Nicholas Wheeler13 notes that Madeleine Albright justified the US decision to delay the reinforcement of UNAMIR by the fact that it would have been folly to venture too quickly into Rwanda. On May 19, whereas the press already announced tens of thousands of people dead, Douglas Jehl14 reported in the International Herald Tribune that Madeleine Albright declared that the US insistence that the United Nations prepare more detailed plans before intervening in Rwanda represented the first test of the PDD 25 directive imposing more prudence in peacekeeping. And Arthur Klinghoffer15 reports statements by Bill Clinton, who declared on May 25 that the United States had no vital interests in Rwanda and should not intervene16 . He also declared that the US troops should not be deployed whenever American values were offended by human misery17 .

Anyway, Flavia Gasbarri recalls that at the request of the United States, resolution 918 adopted on May 17 to create  UNAMIR II included an additional paragraph stating that a report on the conditions about the mission had to be submitted18 before it can take place. And as the report was submitted by Boutros Boutros-Ghali on May 31, it was not until June 8 that a resolution authorising the phases for the deployment of UNAMIR II was adopted. Subsequently, Member States struggled to provide troops for the mission: as of July 25, only 550 of the 5,500 needed personnel were sent.

Faced with all these delays, Boutros Boutros-Ghali reaffirmed the need to stop the killings, and asked the Security Council to validate Opération Turquoise proposed by France. This operation was authorised on June 22, and the deployment took place the same day.

In summary, English-speaking studies provide crucial information on the impact of US policy, which is a useful addition to the Duclert report, which hardly addresses this question. However, with regard to France, it is possible to retain a few major facts: Following the Cold War, the United States, then dominating a world that had become unipolar, redefined their peacekeeping policy, which they notably formalised in the PDD 25 directive. Therefore, they persisted in obstructing the Security Council (including by not paying their full share of funding). They tried to prevent the creation of UNAMIR, which was to succeed Opération Noroît and allow France to withdraw from Rwanda. Subsequently they tried to prevent and then slowed down the implementation of UNAMIR II which was supposed to stop the genocide. This led the Security Council to authorise Opération Turquoise while waiting for UNAMIR II to finally be operational.

From the point of view of prevention, it appears necessary to assess the impact of the media coverage of the Duclert report and its possible geopolitical consequences in Africa. This requires further study, to assess the systemic disparities between the Duclert report and the views of other actors.

1 WEISS, Thomas G. Overcoming the Somalia Syndrome— « Operation Rekindle Hope? » Global Governance. Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1995, Vol. 1, nᵒ 2, p. 171‑187
2 Ibid.
3 LYNCH, Colum. Genocide Under Our Watch. Dans : Foreign Policy. 16 avril 2015.
4 Ibid.
5 DORN, A. Walter et MATLOFF, Jonathan. Preventing the Bloodbath: Could the UN have Predicted and Prevented the Rwandan Genocide? Journal of Conflict Studies. The University of New Brunswick, 2000, Vol. 20, no 1, p. 9‑52
6 SCHEFFER, David. Lessons from the Rwandan Genocide. Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. Georgetown University Press, 2004, Vol. 5, no 2, p. 125‑132
7 Ibid.
8 GASBARRI, Flavia. Revisiting the Linkage: PDD 25, Genocide in Rwanda and the US Peacekeeping Experience of the 1990s. The International History Review. Routledge, Août 2018, Vol. 40, no 4, p. 792‑813.
9 GASBARRI, Flavia. Ibid., p. 5.
10 SCHEFFER, David. Ibid. p. 128.
11 SCHEFFER, David. Ibid. p. 129.
12 GASBARRI, Flavia. Ibid., p. 5.
13 WHEELER, Nicholas J. Saving strangers: humanitarian intervention in international society. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-19-829621-8
14 DOUGLAS, Jehl. Rwanda Stand Reflects New U.S. Caution No Threat. International Herald Tribune. 19 mai 1994. Disponible à l’adresse :
15 KLINGHOFFER, Arthur Jay. The International Dimension of Genocide in Rwanda. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS and London : Palgrave Macmillan, 1998
16 "Now the entire global terrain is bloody with such conflicts, from Rwanda to Georgia. We cannot solve every such outburst of civil strife or militant nationalism simply by sending in our forces. We cannot turn away from them, but our interests are not sufficiently at stake in so many of them to justify a commitment of our folks."
17 KLINGHOFFER, Arthur Jay. Ibid. p. 97.
18 GASBARRI, Flavia. Ibid., p. 6