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SLUG: 2-314508 U-N / Rwanda / Genocide (L O)









INTRO: U-N Secretary General Kofi Annan has expressed remorse for not doing more himself to prevent the Rwanda genocide of ten years ago. Mr. Annan was head of U-N peacekeeping operations at the time. From U-N headquarters, Peter Heinlein reports the secretary general's comments came at a memorial conference on Rwanda's ethnic slaughter.

TEXT: The genocide in Rwanda should never have happened, but it did. With those words, Secretary General Annan began his unusually frank admission that the world community, and the United Nations, failed a big test in 1994.

/// ANNAN ACT ///

If the United Nations, government officials, the international media and other observers had paid more attention to the gathering signs of disaster, and taken timely action, it might have been averted. Warnings were missed. I recall a 1993 report by a United Nations special rapporteur that spoke specifically of an impending catastrophe.

/// END ACT ///

Four years ago, the U-N Security Council passed a resolution admitting responsibility for failing to stop the Rwanda killings.

Mr. Annan said Friday he now looks back with the awareness that -- as director of U-N peacekeeping operations at the time -- he could have done more.


I believed at that time that I was doing my best. But I realized after the genocide that there was more that I could and should have done to sound the alarm and rally support. This painful memory, along with that of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has influenced much of my thinking, and many of my actions, as secretary-general.

/// END ACT ///

Canada, which has taken a lead role in examining the mistakes made in Rwanda, called Friday for urgent measures to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again. Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham, addressing the memorial gathering, spoke pointedly to Secretary General Annan. He urged a full discussion of the circumstances that could warrant any future military intervention on humanitarian grounds.

/// GRAHAM ACT ///

Some say this is a debate the international community is not ready to have; that disagreements over Iraq and other issues have damaged the diplomatic environment so as to make it impossible to discuss intervention of any sort, or for any reason. I believe, sir, that this is a debate we cannot afford to postpone. In the absence of clarity and consensus on the issue, we risk the same paralysis you describe in the case of Rwanda.

/// END ACT ///

Ethnic warfare broke out in Rwanda in April 1994 after a plane carrying the country's president was shot down. An estimated 800-thousand Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred, most of them by Hutu extremists.

Secretary General Annan Friday joined in a Rwandan government call for the world to observe a minute of silence at noon on April seventh. That day has been designated as the International Day of Reflection on Genocide in Rwanda.

Mr. Annan said he had written to all the world's heads of state and government asking them to honor the observance. (SIGNED)


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