Africa Today Seminar: Let's Be Friends: The US, Post-Genocide Rwanda and Victor's Justice in Arusha


Video duration: 
1 h 27 min.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) announced its final verdict in December 2012. This seminar examines whether the ICTR was doomed from the start to be a court of ‘victor’s justice’ and re-examines the politics of the ICTR’s creation. Interviews with (former) US and UN ambassadors and hundreds of declassified diplomatic telegrams (‘cables’) and intelligence reports by the US Department of State have shed new light on this process. The analysis concentrates on the strategy of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) vis-à-vis the international community and the responses of the UN and the US. In a previous publication, I claim that US leadership is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for successful international prosecutions. Building on this research, it will be argued here that understanding the evolution of the relationship between Washington and Kigali – from early and almost accidental support of the RPF to virtually unconditional backing – can help explain RPF impunity. It is not suggested that Washington planned to shield Kagame from international prosecution or that the US was the only Security Council member to embrace him. However, once Washington entered into partnership with the ‘new’ Rwanda, it was committed to moving forward – and this implied burying the past and often also ignoring the present. The result was victor’s justice in Arusha and a seemingly endless war in neighboring Congo.

Date, time and location

16 May 2013
15.30 - 17.00
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 1A22 (first floor)