Eyewitness to a Genocide:
The United Nations and Rwanda


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Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda
by Michael N. Barnett 2002

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This is the hardback edition. The paperback is not yet released but may be preordered.

Book Description

Barnett worked on the U.S. Mission to the U.N. in 1994, and observed the U.N.'s reaction to the Rwandan genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsis were murdered by Hutus over a period of about three months. He describes the way in which the United Nations made decisions and acted or failed to act, and why.

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Publisher's Weekly
As a staffer on the U.S. Mission to the U.N. in 1994, Barnett observed the U.N.'s reaction to the Rwandan genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsis were murdered by Hutus over a period of about three months; at the height of the killing, 5.5 deaths occurred every minute. Though officials at the U.N. Secretariat knew the facts, the U.N. took no meaningful action other than to declare that they remained "actively seized of the matter." (Barnett was himself initially opposed to intervention.) In puzzling through the U.N.'s decisions, the author offers not a scathing indictment of its timidity in the face of mass brutality so much as a searching and nuanced moral analysis. In his attempts to explain how "those working at the U.N. approached Rwanda not as individuals but rather as members of bureaucracies," Barnett carefully examines the U.N.'s institutional values and the ways in which decent international civil servants adhered to norms that repeatedly drew their attention away from the Rwandan crisis.

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