Rwanda - EP 1

Duration: 17-May-1994 to 16-Aug-1995

As the level of violence escalated, refugee flows surged, and evidence of systematic ethnic killing and genocide became increasingly apparent, the UN re-engaged by increasing UNAMIR force levels to 5500 and imposing an arms embargo on all parties to the conflict in UNSCR 918, 17 May 1994. By mid-May the ICRC estimated that more than a half million people had been killed in Rwanda. In the absence of UN deployment, the Security Council authorized the deployment of French forces in southwest Rwanda, the "Operation Turquoise," on 22 June 1994, creating a "safe area" in territory controlled by the government. The killings of Tutsis continued, however, even in the safe area. Tutsi RPF forces captured Kigali and the Hutu government fled to Zaire, along with large numbers of refugees. The French concluded their mission and were replaced by Ethiopian UN troops. The RPF set up an interim government of national unity in Kigali. Although disease and more killings claimed additional lives in the refugee camps, the genocide was over by July. On 8 November 1994, UNSCR 955 established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).


Coerce all parties to the conflict to cease hostilities and agree to a ceasefire.


Constrain all parties to the conflict in their use of armed violence.


Signal support for the protection of civilians and the norm prohibiting genocide.


Arms imports embargo on all parties to the conflict.

No individual sanctions imposed.

Potential scope of impact


UN sanctions can have some non-discriminating impact on the general population, since they include arms embargoes, diplomatic sanctions, and/or restrictions on the conduct of particular activities or the export of specific commodities.

Sanctions Committee created, no sanctions monitoring mechanism in place. Enforcement authorities not specified.



Policy outcome

RPF won militarily and Hutu elements used refugee camps in Zaire to mobilize continued opposition to the interim government of national unity.

Sanctions contribution

Lack of deployment of UN peacekeeping force, and victory of one party of the conflict were most significant to the negative outcome.



Policy outcome

While the genocide ended in July 1994, the armed conflict continued.

Sanctions contribution

The arms embargo only went into effect three months before the RPF military victory.



Policy outcome

References to genocide were implied, not explicitly stated in UNSCR 918 and perpetrators are not mentioned.

Sanctions contribution

The withdrawal and slow deployment of UN peacekeeping forces also contributed to a weak signal.



Strengthening of political factions.



  • Imposes arms imports embargo to Rwanda and specifies UNAMIR and UNOMUR exemptions.


  • Establishes Sanctions Committee and specifies its mandate.



  • Authorizes temporary MS multinational operation in Rwanda (2 months).
  • Requests participating MS reporting.



  • Establishes International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) investigating Rwandan genocide and other humanitarian law violations (statutes in Annex).



  • Specifies that UNSCR 918 arms imports embargo applies also to persons in neighboring MS if their purpose is to use such arms within Rwanda.



  • Adds UNSCR 918 arms imports embargo exemption for a certain amount of explosives for humanitarian demining (upon Committee approval).