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CONFERENCES

June 29-July 1, 2015
Srebrenica, 1993-1995
Eyewitnesses and policymakers gathered at the Hague before the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide to discuss the latest declassified evidence and drew lessons to be learned for genocide prevention.

June 1-3, 2014
Rwanda, 1990-1994
Leading decision-makers from the United Nations, Africa, the United States, and Europe gathered in the Hague to consider the failure of the international community to prevent or effectively respond to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and to explore whether and how the tragedy might have been averted.

PROJECT DOCUMENTATION

The Rwanda Sitreps
Daily pleas to New York detail how international failure left peacekeepers ill-equipped to respond to rising violence in January 1994.

Warnings of Catastrophe
French, US, UN, and Belgian documents foreshadow the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

Key Diplomat's Personal Notebook Sheds Light on Inner Workings of US Government Response to Genocide Unfolding in Rwanda in 1994
Ambassador Prudence Bushnell provides a unique window into the making of US foreign policy during the Rwandan genocide.

Inside the UN Security Council: April-July 1994
United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Czech Republic declassified documents reveal new perspectives on United Nations Security Council debates on Rwanda in April 1994.

Srebrenica Conference Documents Detail Path to Genocide from 1993 to 1995
International failures around 1995 genocide had roots in 1993 debates over "safe areas."

IN THE NEWS

The United Nations Still Can’t Stop Civilian Slaughter
David Rohde, The Atlantic, July 9, 2015

International Decision-Making in the Age of Genocide: Srebrenica 1993-1995
The National Security Archive Press Release, June 28, 2015

Declassified U.N. Cables Reveal Turning Point in Rwanda Crisis of 1994
Mark Landler, The New York Times, June 3, 2014

Key Decision Makers and Eyewitnesses Gather in the Hague to Consider the Failure of the International Community in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide
National Security Archive, May 29, 2014

Refusing to Call it Genocide: Documents Show Clinton Administration Ignored Mass Killings in Rwanda
Emily Willard, Democracy Now! [video], April 7, 2014

Don't Assume that the Rwandan Genocide Couldn't Happen Today
Sarah J. Bloomfield and Michael Abramowitz, The New Republic, April 7, 2014

Britain ignored genocide threat in Rwanda
Oscar Williams, The Independent, March 9, 2014

"The Rwandan Genocide"
Linda Melvern, Gregory Stanton, et al., Letter to the Editor, The New York Times, January 15, 2014

Tracing the Rwanda "Genocide Fax"
Karel Kovanda, Letter to the Editor, The New York Times, January 14, 2014

"The Rwandan Genocide"
Rafael Medoff, Letter to the Editor, The New York Times, January 10, 2014

The Shroud Over Rwanda's Nightmare
Michael Dobbs, The New York Times, January 9, 2014

ABOUT THE PROJECT

The Genocide Documentation Project, launched in January 2013 in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, explores the failures of the international community to prevent or effectively respond to past cases of genocide. Through detailed case studies, the project’s research seeks to inform international policies regarding the prevention of and response to genocide and mass atrocity. By examining the role of the international community in past incidents of genocidal violence, these case studies help shape the views of a new generation of policymakers both within the United States and around the world. 

The project consists of three components:

  1. Comprehensive documentation collections, including newly declassified documents released through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, compiled into series of carefully researched briefing books.
  2. Oral history video interviews with a diverse group of key actors, including victims and perpetrators, peacekeepers and diplomats, eyewitnesses and government officials, and scholars and journalists.
  3. International 'critical oral history' conferences bringing together key participants and new collections of documents to evaluate decision-making of past genocides and advocate for more effective policies for future conflicts.

The documents, oral history interviews, and conference reports are published online to educate the general public, policymakers, and other scholars.

 

PROJECT PHASES

 

Rwanda, 1990-1994

In 2014, the National Security Archive launched the “#Rwanda20yrs” campaign to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Historians now believe that around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed following the mysterious assassination of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana on April 6, 1994. During the first three frenzied weeks of the killing, the international community made a series of decisions that facilitated the genocide, including withdrawing most of the UN peacekeepers from Rwanda. To this day, senior U.S. officials maintain they were unaware of the full horror of events unfolding in the faraway central African country, despite numerous pleas for intervention from desperate eyewitnesses.

The campaign culminated in a critical oral history conference at The Hague Institute for Global Justice that convened a roundtable of 35 key UN and government officials and scholars involved in the response to the Rwanda crisis in 1994. Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, the former Force Commander of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), prominent Rwandan human rights activist and survivor Monique Mujawamaria, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Ambassador Prudence Bushnell were among the conference participants. 

National Security Archive staff prepared a two-volume briefing book containing 149 key documents for conference participants to help ground the discussions in historical evidence, as well as a 248-page conference transcript and 30-page rapporteurs’ report. These publications, featured in The New York Times, are now available to the public to support further research and analysis.

 

Srebrenica, 1993-1995

During a four-day period, July 12-16, 1995, Bosnian Serb troops killed some 8,000 Muslim men and boys from the designated UN “safe area” of Srebrenica. Marking the 20th anniversary of the genocide in July 2015, a critical oral history conference, sponsored by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and The Hague Institute for Global Justice, brought together former officials and eyewitnesses from Europe, North America, Asia, and the UN to examine the series of decisions leading up to the fall of Srebrenica.

Participants in the Srebrenica conference included former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Yasushi Akashi, former European peace negotiator Carl Bildt, former commander of UN forces in Bosnia General Sir Rupert Smith, Srebrenica survivor Muhamed Durakovic, and three former members of the UN Security Council. The wartime Bosnian government was represented by Hasan Muratovic, the minister responsible for relations with the international community, and former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija.

The conference, featured in The Atlantic, looked critically at the designation of the Srebrenica enclave as a UN-designated “safe area” and its tragic fall upon the arrival of Bosnian Serb forces. Ignoring pleas for close air support from Dutch peacekeepers, UN and NATO officials did nothing to prevent the fall of the “protected” enclave and there is continued controversy over who is to blame for the failure of a major international peacekeeping effort.


PROJECT BRIEFING BOOKS

Srebrenica

July 1, 2015
Srebrenica Conference Documents Detail Path to Genocide from 1993 to 1995

Documents show contradictions between New York UN declarations and ground realities, resistance from member states to back up resolutions with troops and planes, and constant reluctance to use air strikes abetted by divisions within U.S. government and allies.

Click here to open/close list of Srebrenica publications
November 23, 2015
International passivity, lack of support for peacekeepers doomed Srebrenica 20 years ago; 8,000 Muslim refugees died

July 1, 2015
Documents show contradictions between New York UN declarations and ground realities, resistance from member states to back up resolutions with troops and planes, and constant reluctance to use air strikes abetted by divisions within U.S. government and allies.

Rwanda

April 16, 2015
1994 Rwanda Pullout Driven by Clinton White House, UN Equivocation

Political restrictions on peacekeeping missions were key to U.S. thinking in 1994, not protection of civilians or prevention of genocide. Documents show minimal high-level U.S. attention to Rwanda genocide in April 1994, which ended with evacuation of U.S. citizens April 11, notwithstanding last-minute add-on to deputies' meeting of April 29.

Click here to open/close list of Rwanda publications
April 16, 2015
Political restrictions on peacekeeping missions were key to U.S. thinking in 1994, not protection of civilians or prevention of genocide. Documents show minimal high-level U.S. attention to Rwanda genocide in April 1994,k which ended with evacuation of U.S. citizens April 11, notwithstanding last-minute add-on to deputies' meeting of April 29.

April 6, 2015
"Unprecedented" 2014 conference illuminates international response (and lack thereof) to genocide. Transcript, documents, and rapporteur's report are published online, marking 21st anniversary.

January 30, 2015
Ambassador Prudence Bushnell provides a unique window into the making of U.S. foreign policy during the Rwandan genocide. Follow Bushnell's detailed notes of the unfolding crisis, as the diplomat tasked with stopping the violence while receiving limited policy options from Washington and New York.

June 2, 2014
United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Czech Republic declassified documents reveal new perspectives on United Nations Security Council debates on Rwanda in April 1994.

May 21, 2014
International community's lack of support for military demobilization and Rwandans' inability to implement Accords led to genocide in 1994.

April 7, 2014
Complete collection of peacekeepers' situation reports from Rwanda to UN Headquarters in New York -- from the Mission's inception in October 1993 through the end of the genocide in July 1994.

March 31, 2014
Attempts by the international community to address the refugee crisis became enmeshed in political in-fighting inside the country. Documents show that the refugee crisis was compounded by a lack of reliable intelligence and a shortage of military personnel and international monitors.

March 20, 2014
Part One: Leadup to the Genocide. French documents available in English for the first time.

March 6, 2014
French, U.S., UN, and Belgian documents foreshadow the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Key Belgian diplomatic cables published in English for the first time.

February 3, 2014
Daily pleas to New York detail how international failure left peacekeepers ill-equipped to respond to rising violence in January 1994.

January 9, 2014
New documentation paints complex picture of informant and his warnings.

April 3, 2013
FOIA reviewers declassify the same Rwanda document four times, creating new secrets each time.

April 7, 2004
The assassination of the Presidents and the beginning of the "apocalypse."

March 24, 2004
Information, intelligence, and the U.S. response.

August 20, 2001
Evidence of inaction in sixteen declassified U.S. government documents detailing how U.S. policymakers chose to be "bystanders" during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Darfur

August 17, 2011
Characterization of Darfur violence as "genocide" had no "legal consequences" for U.S., according to 2004 State Department Memo

Article by Archive Fellow Rebecca Hamilton contrasts Darfur memo with 1994 finding that application of the term to Rwanda would force U.S. "to actually 'do something.'"

Click here to open/close list of Darfur publications
August 17, 2011
Article by Archive Fellow Rebecca Hamilton contrasts Darfur memo with 1994 finding that application of the term to Rwanda would force U.S. "to actually 'do something.'"

February 1, 2011
A new book analyzes disconnects between the Save Darfur movement, U.S. policy, the United Nations, and events on the ground in Sudan. Documents provide blistering assessments of policy failure and humanitarian disaster.

 


PHOTOS

(click on photo to enlarge)

ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEWS

June 29, 2015
Muhamed Durakovic
Srebrenica native, genocide survivor, and advocate Muhamed Durakovic describes his 37-day trek through Bosnian Serb Army-controlled territory to Tuzla in July 1995.

April 10, 2015
John Shattuck
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor John Shattuck discusses his fact-finding mission to Srebrenica in July 1995.

November 22, 2013
Prudence Bushnell
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Prudence Bushnell discusses the failure of ceasefire policies in Rwanda.

October 29, 2013
Joyce Leader
The U.S. Embassy in Rwanda’s former Deputy Chief of Mission Joyce Leader discusses the impact of democratization and peace in Rwanda.

April 30, 2013
Major Brent Beardsley
The former aide to UNAMIR Force Commander General Dallaire, Brent Beardsley, describes the frustration and lack of support for UNAMIR forces in New York.

UNREDACTED BLOG POSTS

22 Years Later, US Still Classifying "Bombshell" Plan to Pull Peacekeepers Out Before Rwanda Genocide
Sarah Reichenbach, April 26, 2016

Bosnian Serb Leader Karadžić Convicted of Genocide; National Security Archive Document Collection Maps Atrocities
Sarah Reichenbach, March 24, 2016

Declassified Documents on Darfur Genocide Reveal Situation Nearly Identical to Current Atrocities
Sarah Reichenbach, March 7, 2016

Conversations with a Genocidaire
Sarah Reichenbach, February 4, 2015

Daily Situation Reports Show Peacekeepers in Rwanda Ill-Equipped and Unprepared to Carry Out Mission in January 1994
Leah Dunn, February 10, 2014

The Rwandan Genocide: Documents Day-by-Day
Emily Willard, January 17, 2014

The Rwanda "Genocide Fax" Deconstructed
Emily Willard, January 9, 2014

TEAM MEMBERS


Tom Blanton
Executive Director
National Security Archive

Cameron Hudson
Director
Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Michael Dobbs
Senior Advisor
Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Sarah Reichenbach
Project Coordinator and Research Associate
Genocide Documentation Project
National Security Archive

Kristin Scalzo
Research Assistant
Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Emily Willard
Project Coordinator Emerita

 


CONTACT

National Security Archive
Suite 701, Gelman Library of The George Washington University
2130 H Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20037
Phone: 202/994-7000
Fax: 202/994-7005
nsarchiv@gwu.edu


Learn more about researching the National Security Archive’s full collection of declassified documents

National Security Archive
Suite 701, Gelman Library
The George Washington University
2130 H Street, NW
Washington, D.C., 20037
Phone: 202/994-7000
Fax: 202/994/7005
nsarchiv@gwu.edu

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