Foreign policy/international relations/african history/genocide Essay



“Belgian UN troops, school children, NGO workers and over 2,500 Tutsi citizens and their sympathizers took refuge against a raging genocide while the Hutu militia, clad with machetes, clamored outside the school gates.” (Caton, 2005)

            Shooting Dogs is a superb film, directed by Michael Caton-Jones. It was released on United Kingdom in 2005. However, Shooting Dogs was also released in the United States although under a different name, Beyond the Gates. John Hurt and Hugh Dancy both starred on the film. Shooting Dogs was taken from a real-life story of one of British Broadcasting Corporation news producer, David Belton. It is in this regard that Belton was also one of the writers and producers of Shooting Dogs.

David Belton has had his share of what genocide is like as he was present during the time of Rwandan genocide. Shooting Dogs was set on the school of Ecole Technique Officielle or ETO. ETO was located in Kigali Rwanda and thus it was used by refugees who wished to escape the genocide during those times. . The films main characters are John Hurt and Hugh Dancy, the former played the role of a Christian priest whereas the latter played the role of a teacher. The teacher and the priest alike are Westerners who were trapped in the middle of the genocide.

A great deal of comparison always arose between Shooting Dogs and Hotel Rwanda. However, Shooting Dogs is a lot better than Hotel Rwanda in that it the latter’s setting was on South Africa thus using South African actors and actresses. Shooting Dogs on the other hand was shoot exactly on the same spots the genocide took place. Aside from that, the film also made use of those people who witnessed and take part on the genocide for minor roles.

After fived days spent the UN militia retreated from the Ecole Technique Officielle accompanied by some Whites. After just an hour or so those who Rwandans who were left behind were almost annihilated.


            Almost eight hundred thousand people were slaughtered during the Rwandan genocides. The said killing of adult and young children alike was very terrible and was etched on the memory of those who survived the incident. The annihilation of those innocent people occurred in the length of more than three months, from April to July 1994. The hundred day incident is a source of different stories needed to be told. The most unforgettable would be the event that took place on Ecole Technique Officielle. This particular incident alone could show us how the international community did nothing to save those innocent people from being slaughter.

            It is primarily the reason why Shooting Dogs came into being. The Rwandans, losing all hope of survival decided to take refuge on Ecole Technique Officielle since all their homes are no longer safe to live on. At the hope that they would be saved and they could find shelter on the said school since it is being run by Christian priests and since it was in used of United Nations militia as an army base, they chanced their lives in order to reach what they thought of to be a sanctuary.  Shooting Dogs showed clearly how numerous Tutsi men died on their attempt to reach ETO while some who reached the gates of the said school were almost overtaken by The Hutu militia. It is a sad thing that five days after the Tutsi reached what they believed to be a place of sanctuary, the UN army was asked to evacuate the school with strict orders to take only the whites with them. It is in this regard that about 2, 500 Tutsis were killed during the massacre and those who survived strived hard to tell their stories.



            The Rwandan genocide happened in the year of 1994. The said event exterminated approximately 800, 000 Tutsis and some of those who sympathizes with them. The Interahamwe along with the Impuzagambi (both of them are part of Hutu private army) took a major part in the genocide. The killing of the Tutsis lasted for a hundred days starting from April 6 up to the middle of July in 1994. Those who died in the massacre were estimated to range from 800, 000 – 1, 000, 000.

            It is a known fact that the international community, particularly the UN did not even bother to help the Tutsis from being massacred. One should take note of the fact that the media took great pains in recording and in showing the public the events that were taking place during that time, however, even though the happenings during that time were known internationally, major countries such as United States, Belgium and the like did not even bother to help stop the said massacre. Canada on the other hand was maintaining United Nations troops in Rwanda during those times for their missions of keeping the peace on the land. The peacekeeping force goes under the name of United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda or UNAMIR. However the UNAMIR were not able to stop the genocide for their calls and pleas for help on their superiors went unheard. The United Nations Security Council did not only turn a blind eye from the incident, they also refused to send reinforcements for the UNAMIR aside from the fact that they did not allowed the UNAMIR to intervene. The United Nations Council also ordered the UNAMIR to evacuate the place thus abandoning those people who were looking up to them for help. Only the French government sees it fit to intervene or to take part on the said commotion. However, instead of stopping the genocide they only supported and backed up the massacre of the Tutsis by helping them to fend off those who wish to stop the genocide. The genocide was only put to an end when Rwandan Patriotic Front succeeded in defeating the Hutu regime. With Paul Kagame on their lead, the rebels were able to scare away those who took part on the said genocide.


The events that took place on Africa were a trial on America’s seriousness in terms of implementing the foreign policies they set about. However, the last twenty five years showed the failure of the United States to implement those policies on countries such as Africa. Since the foreign policies they upholds were in constant flux the execution of their policies especially in terms of human rights were often not met as could be seen on the case at Rwanda. Basically since the US government does not see Rwanda as beneficial to them in economic terms and the like they also failed to address the tensions and the problems that arose on Rwanda during those times.

The thing which hindered the United States from ending the massacre or the genocide in Rwanda is the fact that they do not have enough political resolve to help. The United States has certain policies which talks a great deal about human rights, freedom and the like and they were expressed in the year of 1990. However, those expressions regarding freedoms and human rights were not employed on a coherent basis and it is basically the reason why they failed in helping those Tutsi from getting massacred. Also although US expressed their concerns regarding the rights of each human it is still enough for they failed to apply their policies in an efficient way along with the fact that US is not really clear on what they are going to do in order to promote or to ensure the protection of human rights.


The fact that the United States did nothing to stop the Rwandan massacre showed a great deal about the malfunction of the United States foreign policy. Basically Rwanda is not really considered as an asset of the United States and thus they view happenings in Rwanda as insignificant.  The United States sees Rwanda as a country which do not abound in natural resources thus they do not serve US purposes specifically since the United States do not have any business venture on Rwanda or whatsoever. During the Cold War the United States is mostly concerned on their promoting economic growth. However, during those times the United States consider Rwanda as an allied country and thus the US was resolve to keep Rwanda their ally by helping them in little ways. Rwanda is abundant in terms of ethnical anxieties and the United States seemed to believe that those kinds of problems may be cured in terms of economic growth. The international community was actually happy with the way Juvenal Habriyamana handles Rwanda government in a secure way. It is in this regard that the international community did not pay enough concern on the way the Tutsis (which comprises the minority of the group) were marginalized. The end of Cold war opened the United States venture on campaigning for democracy, human rights, and promotion of civil societies. The United States also supported the training of the staffs of National Assembly.

However the end of the Cold War was also the time wherein abuses on Tutsis by the Rwandan government were on its peak. The United States perceived that the said discriminations and abuses on the Tutsis could be rooted on the Civil War which occurred in the 1990s. The US government believed that they could solve the problem by means of peace policies which bring forth the Arusha Peace Accords of 1993. However the Rwandan government disregarded US attempts of promotion of human rights and democracy and they went on abusing the Tutsis and killing them off like animals. The fact that the United States did nothing to segregate and denounce Habyarimana only heartened the Rwandan government to went on with their bouts of killing. The genocide did not really came into being without any premonitions or warnings whatsoever since the month of January provided enough evidences and warnings as to what was about to happen. The fact that the United States and the international community particularly the United Nations did nothing to enlarge the UNAMIR in order to protect the Tutsi minority is enough evidence of the US and the foreign policies failure to act in accordance to their duty. One of the primary reasons of the US government for not taking part or for not stopping the genocide is the fact that they do not want another of their peacekeeping missions to came into failure thus resulting the sacrifice of almost 800, 000 people.


            The failures in the United States policy contributed a great deal to the implementation of the Rwandan genocide. United States may excuse their selves by pointing out that there are countries such as Belgium and France did nothing to stop the genocide, however the bulk of the responsibility still lie on US hands since they basically leads the international community as a whole.

            During and after the Cold War the US government did not saw it fit to prioritize the implementation of human rights in Rwanda. It is true that the US government wishes to improve the economy of Rwanda and thus they supported the Rwandan government in terms of foreign aid packages. After the abuses and massacres of the Tutsi minority were confirmed the United States lessened the aid packages that they give the Rwandan government for humanitarian support. The US government even warned the Rwandan government that they would still lessen the aids that they give them although their reasons for doing so were not because of the massacres and the discriminations. Instead, the US government said that they were lessening the support they are giving the Rwandan government due to their poor implementation of economic development as well as for their mounting expenses on war. The abuse of human rights came in the last reason for the lessened aid packages. The fact that other reasons were cited for the reduction of help the US government gives the Rwandan government made the latter believe that the abuses on the human rights of the Tutsi was not really on the United States priority.

            In they year of 1994, the US government as well as the international community still continued to regard the Rwandan government in the same manner. They still regarded the said government as genuine and even after all the incidents that were reported to them prior to the human right violations they still went on to treat the said government as a temporary part of the United Nations’ Security Council. True enough that the US government rejected the requests of the delegates of the genocidal system to be issued with visas in order to reach Washington. However, it did very little in helping Rwandan minority since it was done in a very quiet manner aside from the fact that it was done 6 weeks after the genocide started thus having very little importance to the point that it did nothing to alleviate the sufferings of the Tutsis during those times. The weight that the United States put upon the Rwandan government is not heavy or visible enough to prevent the slaughter of 800, 000 – 1, 000, 000. Basically the United States did not really do anything which could contribute a great deal to stop the killings and the abuses on human rights on Rwandan. In fact the United States did not even see to it that the United Nations peacekeepers remain in Rwanda in order to stop the genocide. The US government basically did not give enough economic and diplomatic force on the Rwandan government all throughout the genocidal administration. In fact the French even gave aid to the Rwandan regime in order to ensure the genocide. Thus, in the end neither the United States of America nor the international community act in accordance to their responsibility brought to them by the fact that they adhere to the Geneva Convention, to stop the genocide and to punish those who committed the said crime. Should truth be told the White House and the US government even prevents the use of the term genocide in discussing the incidents that occurred during those times on Rwanda.

The government of the United States is largely motivated by the public’s opinion thus the Rwanda incident only showed that majority of the public did not really care as to what would happen to the minority of Rwanda during those times since they did nothing to ensure that their government would stop the killing in spite of the fact that the media did their best to ensure that the happenings on Rwanda would be known by the public. In this regard the US government along with the foreign policy failed to carry out their advertisement of human rights. The Rwanda basically is no asset to the United States and it is primarily the reason why they did not even bother to take the necessary actions needed to prevent the genocide.


            One of the things which we could learn from the Rwandan genocide was the importance of seeing first and foremost the consequences which could result from foreign policy’s actions or their inactions. Once that was already determined it would then be easy for them to determine better ways in implementing the set of policies they made. Just as what happened in Rwanda, we can clearly see that warnings were not enough to prevent the genocide from taking place. Somalia along with the pace on which the genocide took place both played an important factor which override the political will of those involved in implementing foreign policies which hindered them from taking the necessary steps needed to ensure that the genocide would not take place. The era during those times also contributed a lot to the genocide for during those times there was an air that seems to say that the said genocide would be overlooked. The fact that the US government failed to interrogate Habyarimana as to the abuses of human rights on the Tutsi minority during one of his visits on Washington also played a major role on the failure of United States in implementing their policies. The United States did not even bother to question Habyarimana on his reasons for killings on Burundi and this also supplemented Habyarimana’s plans on genocides making the latter feel safer that he would not be persecuted even if the said genocide took place.  The fact that one of the reasons why the United States basically did nothing to ensure that the genocide in Rwanda would not take place led people to question United States integrity on implementing their policies. Thus in this regard we could see a need for improving the execution of foreign policies as stated by Liang-Fenton.

Among the lessons which could be learned from the movie a well as on Rwandan history are the fact that private and public negotiation alike needs to be employed in cycle by the United States in order to apply the necessary pressure needed in order to stop abuses from certain forms of regiments. Private as well as public concerns must also be expressed coherently. Those who violated certain human rights must also be hold responsible and thus must pay for the crimes they committed. Supporting democracy programs are not enough to stop killings of minority. Thus proper implication of punishments or penalty must be hold in accordance to those who would not abide by the law. Overall if only the US government as well as the international community wanted to stop the genocide I am sure that they could really do something about it, what they lacked in the end was not power, rather they lacked the initiative to carry out what needed to be carried out.


TITLE: Shooting Dogs/Behind the gates

DIRECTOR: Michael Caton-Jones


GENRE: Drama

 PRODUCER: David Belton

                          Pippa Cross

                          Jens Meurer

CAST: John Hurt

             Hugh Dancy

             Claire Hope Ashitey

             Dominique Horwitz

AUTHOR: Debra Liang-Fenton

YEAR: 2001

TITLE: U.S Human Rights policy towards Africa

ORGANIZATION: United States Institute of Peace

BRIEF DESCRIPTION: A number of studies and researches were conducted in Africa in order to further analyze foreign policies. Other areas of concern of the studies involve, genocides, human rights, all throughout the Earth. In order to achieve these they studied various regions in Africa, and Rwanda is one of them. They scrutinized the effectiveness of policy implementations in terms of their campaigns on human rights. The lessons we could derive from the things that happened in the past on some regions in Africa, particularly Rwanda, are needed in order to find better ways in terms of execution of the United States policies on human rights and the like. (Liang-Fenton, 2001)


Caton-Jones, Michael. “Shooting Dogs/Behind the Gates “, 2005.

Liang-Fenton, Debra. “U.S. Human Rights Policy toward Africa.” 2001.