Explaining the Rwandan Genocide
Explanatory Variables for Genocide
Empirically, all but one of the genocides and politicides that began between 1955 and 1998 occurred during or immediately after political upheavals[...]
This quote by Barbara Harff shows the importance of conflict in explaining genocide. Shedid a comprehensive empirical study determining factors prevalent in countries where a genocideoccurred and rates how those affect the risk of genocide. According to Jones, she identifies five basic explanatory variables for genocide
,out of which at least four
apply to the case of Rwanda:
1. Presence of an Exclusionary Ideology
According to Harrf, countries with a governing elite adhering “to an exclusionary ideologyideology [are] two and a half time as likely”
to experience genocide than others. With the pre-valence of a Hutu Power ideology in Rwanda in the years leading to 1994, this was definitelygiven. Gourevitch identifies this elite as the akazu, which “tightened its grip of the state”
. He de-scribes its ideology as one identifying Tutsi (and moderate Hutu) as “internal enemies” and “RPF'accomplices'”
as early as 1990, thus providing the pretext for mass murder.
Barbara Harrf, “No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust? Assessing Risks of Genocide and Political MassMurder since 1955,”
American Political Science Review
, 97: 1 (February 2003): 62, as quoted in: Jones,
The variable left out is “presence or absence of genocidal precedents”, as Rwanda has had a history of violence between Hutus and Tutsis, but (arguably) not a previous genocide.
as quoted in: Jones,
We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families
(New York:Picador, 1998), 82.
Ibid., 83.Carsten Kaefert: Rwanda: The Political Science Perspective→Rwanda: The Political Science PerspectivePage 2/7