Journal Article - Defense and Security Analysis

Saving Lives with Speed: Using Rapidly Deployable Forces for Genocide Prevention

| January 2004

“Why did the world stand by and do nothing while the genocide in Rwanda unfolded?” This question has been repeatedly asked by journalists, policy-makers and scholars since the systematic massacre of 500,000–800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates by their Hutu countrymen in 1994. As a result of the global indifference to the Rwandan genocide and the mass killings in Bosnia, these analysts and policy practitioners have extensively discussed the strategic, ethical and legal aspects of the emerging norm of humanitarian intervention.2 Some have opposed this emerging norm on the grounds that it hinders state sovereignty, or that it exacerbates the dynamics of internal conflicts by not allowing civil wars to “burn themselves out”.3 Nevertheless, nearly all international commentators on humanitarian intervention would agree with the words of an international panel commissioned by the Canadian government: “In extreme cases, [intervention] is supportable when major harm to civilians is occurring or imminently apprehended, and the state in question is unable or unwilling to end the harm, or is itself the perpetrator.”

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For Academic Citation: Zenko, Micah. Saving Lives with Speed: Using Rapidly Deployable Forces for Genocide Prevention.” Defense and Security Analysis, vol. 20. (January 2004):