An independent panel commissioned by the Organization of African Unity charged this weekend that the United States, France and Belgium, as well as the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, actively prevented peacekeepers from moving in to stop the mass killing of as many as 800,000 Rwandans in 1994. It concluded that the three governments should provide "a significant level of reparations" to the Central African country.
The 318-page report challenged President Clinton’s claim that the United States’s failure to act in Rwanda was due to ignorance of the extent of the atrocities unfolding there. And it accused Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who represented the United States in the U.N. Security Council at the time, of using "stalling tactics" to prevent a military rescue mission.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher responded to the report by saying that Clinton and Albright have already voiced contrition for U.S. inaction. He declined to comment on the call for reparations.
The seven-member panel called on U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to identify the countries that should pay reparations and to develop a plan to rebuild the country, one of the world’s poorest. It also recommended that Rwanda’s foreign debt, amassed by the former government that carried out the genocide, should be "canceled in full."
- Ambassador Stephen Lewis, a member of the OAU panel that did the report. He is the former Canadian Ambassador to the U.N. and a former Unicef official. He joins from Winnepeg, Canada.
- Ambassador Joseph Mutaboba, Rwanda’s Ambassador to the United Nations.
- Ambassador David Scheffer, the U.S. Ambassador at large for War Crimes. He joins from the State Department in Washington DC.