United Nations Security Council Resolutions

United Nations involvement in the Rwandan Genocide is significant for its insignificance. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, (Unamir) which had been installed as a peacekeeping mission to oversee the Arusha Accords between the R.P.F. and the Rwandan Government in 1993, was successful—until people started killing each other. Within two weeks of the outbreak of the fighting, Unamir was reduced in size by 90% to 270 men, not nearly enough to secure even the capital, let alone the entire country. While the remaining token force acted heroically and protected thousands of refugees in stadia, hotels and hospitals around Kigali, it is indisputable that that they could have been exponentially more effective with more troops.

Also problematic was Unamir’s mandate. After all, it was put there to enforce a peace treaty, not to actually fight. Belgian soldiers defending Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana were ordered to hand over their weapons to attacking Rwandan troops due to uncertainties about the legality of fighting back; they were all subsequently murdered. This uncertainty continued throughout the Genocide, with peacekeepers often forced to stand by as people were killed due to the ambiguity of their mandate on whether they could use force to defend civilians.

All the while, the Security Council sat in New York and went about its business, issuing resolutions and condemning the violence in Rwanda, but shying away from any suggestion that perhaps the word “genocide” could be applied, as that would have obligated them to act. By the time they grudgingly admitted that the “G” word may have occurred, it was already well into June and the main wave of killing was finished. Two weeks later, they authorized a 5,000-man intervention force—but no member state wanted to sacrifice its soldiers only months after the last such effort resulted in eighteen American rangers being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu on film for the whole world to see. The force did come, eventually, but by then the R.P.F. had established control of the country and Unamir would exist simply as a peacekeeping force, not a peacemaking one.

But however inactive it was, the United Nations did play a part in Rwanda. This section contains all U.N. Security Council Resolutions pertaining to Rwanda, the Genocide, the peacekeeping forces present there and finally the International Criminal Tribunal set up afterward.

All documents in this section are works of the United Nations, therefore they are in the public domain.


  1. U.N. Security Council, Resolution 872 (1993) Adopted by the Security Council at its 3288th meeting, on 5 October 1993, 5 October 1993. S/RES/872 (1993). Online. U.N.H.C.R. Refworld, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3b00f16a8.html [accessed 29 March 2009]
  2. “Frontline: Ghosts of Rwanda: Timeline | PBS.” Public Broadcasting Service. 28 March 2009 http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/ghosts/etc/crontext.html
  3. Dallaire, Roméo. Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. New York City: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005.
  4. U.N. Security Council, Resolution 925 (1994) Adopted by the Security Council at its 3388th meeting, on 8 June 1994, 8 June 1994. S/RES/925 (1994). Online. U.N.H.C.R. Refworld, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3b00f160c.html [accessed 29 March 2009]
  5. U.N. Security Council, Resolution 929 (1994) Adopted by the Security Council at its 3392nd meeting, on 22 June 1994, 22 June 1994.S/RES/929 (1994). Online. U.N.H.C.R. Refworld, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3b00f15c50.html [accessed 29 March 2009]
  6. Gourevitch, Philip. We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda. New York: Picador, 1998.