Human Rights and International Law (24): 20 Years Ago, Dallaire Sent His “Genocide Fax”

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human rights and international law / law

20 years ago, Romeo Dallaire sent his famous “genocide fax” to the HQ of the UN, warning of impending atrocities in Rwanda. More specifically, he tells about a Hutu informant revealing the existence of arms caches, a plot to assassinate Belgian UN peacekeepers and Rwandan members of parliament, and the existence of lists of Tutsis to be killed (my highlights):

genocide fax

This happened after the UN received the fax:

Dallaire informs New York of his intention to raid the caches, but foreshadowing later developments, Annan and DPKO official Iqbal Riza refuse the request, citing UNAMIR’s limited mandate.  Instead, they order Dallaire to apprise the president of Rwanda of the informant’s allegations, despite the fact that the arms caches and assassination plan are the work of those close to the president.  On April 7, the day after the shoot down of the President’s plane, members of the Presidential Guard carry out this plan, torturing, killing, and mutilating 10 Belgian soldiers in the UN contingent protecting the Prime Minister, who was also their target.  As foreseen by the plan’s authors, Belgium quickly withdrew their contingent from UNAMIR, breaking the backbone of the force.  Within two weeks, the UN Security Council voted to reduce UNAMIR to a token presence, removing the last impediment to the slaughter. (source)

More about Rwanda – then and now – is here. More posts on this series are here.


  1. I watched a documentary in my class today on the Rwandan genocide without realizing the importance of the date… Couldn’t watch most of it due to the horrific images…

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