Two Decades Later: Understanding the French Response to the Rwandan Genocide

Modern & Contemporary France

Author/s (editor/s):

Eglantine Staunton

Publication year:

2016

Publication type:

Journal article

Find this publication at:
Taylor & Francis

Eglantine Staunton, ‘Two Decades Later: Understanding the French Response to the Rwandan Genocide’, Modern & Contemporary France, 24(3) 2016: 299-315.

Two decades later, the Rwandan genocide has been broadly analysed and, to a certain extent, so has the French response to the genocide. Nevertheless, even though the literature covers extensively how the French executive responded to the genocide, it remains confusing when it comes to explaining why it responded in such a controversial way, since two—somewhat contradictory—accounts have been put forward. In order to address this lack of clarity, the article analyses these main accounts and concludes that they both present key weaknesses that prevent us from fully understanding France’s controversial response. Building on Prunier’s testimony, this article suggests a third explanation by arguing that the ‘Fashoda syndrome’ had a strong influence on President Mitterrand and should be taken into account more consistently, not only when studying the French response in Rwanda, but also Mitterrand’s foreign policy in Africa more generally.

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