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Civil War in Rwanda

Discuss about the Failure of Peacekeeping Mission.

In the current global political scenario, one of the key issues being faced by the international community is the attack on humanity. This is due to the reason that, recent years are being stuffed with the incidents of terrorism, civil wars and wars, which eventually lead to the mass destruction and death of millions (Laqueur 2016). Thus, the current scenario is facing the huge crisis in the field of humanity. Moreover, this trend is rapidly increasing with more countries are being affected by terrorism and civil wars are being emerging in different regions. However, in this case, United Nations have a greater role to play in reducing the implications of these activities and preventing their future emergence (Hultman, Kathman and Shannon 2013). On the other hand, there are various cases where it is being seen that, in some countries the peacekeeping mission of United Nations failed terribly due to various reasons.

The two most notorious and infamous incidents of civil war, where the peacekeeping mission of United Nations failed are in Rwanda and Somalia. This essay will discuss about the incidents of mass destruction being happened in these countries and their implications. Moreover, it will also be discussed about the shortcomings of peacekeeping mission of United Nations in these two countries (Dwyer 2015). Accordingly a few recommendations will be discussed in this essay in order to assist the institution to prevent the origination of same incidents in future.

In 1994, civil war emerged in Rwanda between the ethnic groups of Tutsi and Hutu. The difference between the Tutsi and Hutu was being emerged since the independence of Rwanda. The difference between them is mainly on the religious lines. However, the issues between them are mainly remained in smaller terms. Only in 1994, this existing issue got enlarged in to being a civil war and mass destruction of the millions of people (Yanagizawa-Drott 2014). The genocide began when the government of Rwanda dominated by Hutu groups started ethnic cleansing by executing the people from Tutsi community. This is due to the reason that, the then president of Burundi was being killed and it was being concluded that, the Tutsi rebel group is responsible. It was being estimated that, nearly 500000 to 1000000 people are being killed in the civil war.

The genocide got worse when Rwandan Patriotic Front representing the victimized Tutsi group involved in the conflict. They were heavily armed and fought with the government coalition force (Mamdani 2014). This in turn caused displacement of approximately more than 2000000 Hutus. Thus, more than 70 percent of the total populations of Rwanda are directly and indirectly affected. In addition, the economy of the country crippled, which further lead to the origination of the issues such as poverty, income inequality and malnutrition (Schaal et al. 2012). Further investigation in this matter revealed that, various government heads, military heads and other political elites were involved in committing this genocide in view to acquire the control of the country. Moreover, France and some other countries are also being accused for supporting and equipping the government coalition army.

Failure of UN Peacekeeping Mission

The key motive of peacekeeping mission of United Nations is to create stability in the war torn regions and protecting the civilians from the militias. In addition, peacekeeping mission is also being carried out for countering the rebel or terrorist groups in different affected regions. In the case of Rwanda, the key objectives of the peacekeeping mission are the protection of the civilians, reducing the face-offs between the government coalition army and the rebel groups and to maintain the stability in the region (Brattberg 2012). However, contrary to the popular beliefs, the peacekeeping mission in Rwanda failed to provide any solutions to the issues. There are various reasons that are being identified later as the cause of failures of the peacekeeping mission. One of the key reasons is the contradictory behavior of the major allies in the world. This is due to the fact that, countries such as France and Belgium had not shown any interest in solving the civil war in Rwanda. On the other hand, France contributed and helped the government coalition forces to execute the rebels (Wallis 2014). Thus, a consensus has not being created among the major economies in the world. This affected the decision making policy to deal with the issue of Rwanda.

The second issue being identified is the lack of intervention of America in this issue. Being one of the leading superpower in the world, America is one of the prominent political pillars in determining the global policy especially in the policy of United Nations (Jacobson 2012). However, in the case of Rwanda, America had not shown the interest in intervening in their domestic matter, which further de-motivated the other world powers to not get involved in the case. This is due to the reason that, the case of Rwanda was emerged during their presidential election during the tenure of Bill Clinton. Moreover, due to the death of American Rangers in Rwanda, it becomes difficult for President Clinton to continue the keep the American peacekeepers due to the fear of having more casualties, which will provoke the American people to give their mandate against Clinton (Cunliffe 2012).

Due to the fact that, America is one of the major contributors in terms of providing manpower and equipments in the peacekeeping mission of the United Nation, lack of intervention of the America caused adverse impact on the initiation of the peacekeeping mission in Rwanda. The third reason is the ineffectiveness and lack of extensive media reporting in the nineties ( 2017). In the current scenario, media is much more powerful due to the use of latest communication technologies and transportation modes, which enables them to communicate the news more effectively and extensively around the world. However, in nineties, the media was not that effective and thus the news of the Rwandan genocide was not being effectively communicated around the world. This caused lack of awareness among the citizens of different world powers, which had not made any pressure to the government to take active role in mitigating the genocide.

American Factor

Another important reason that is being identified on further investigation is the lack of communication among the key stakeholders and policymakers in United Nation. Investigation in the later stage reveled that, in January 11, 1994, a cable was being sent by then Lieutenant General of the peacekeeping mission in Rwanda about the possibility of the genocide ( 2017). However, the cable was received but not was being shared with the members in Security Council. This caused no discussion regarding the possibility of genocide in Rwanda, which eventually lead to having no plan or blueprint to mitigate the impact of the genocide.

All the above discussed reasons caused the lack of having effective decision by United Nation regarding the peacekeeping mission in Rwanda. Moreover, this also caused delay in taking decision even after the starting of the genocide. All of these aspects piled up to holistically hampering the effectiveness of the peacekeeping mission in Rwanda.

The civil war in Somalia was more extensive compared to the civil war in Rwanda. Moreover, Rwanda is now overcame the issue of civil war and started to grow their economy. On the other hand, Somalia is still being affected due to civil war and it is growing rapidly with time. Somali civil war first broke out between the various warlords to have the control of the country; however, it slowly became a war between the government and terrorist organizations ( 2017). With the involvement of the terrorist organizations in the war scenario, religious angle is being indulged, which is making the matter worse. The issue first emerged from the resistance to the military power in the country (Keen 2012). With having the common motive of overthrowing the military Junta government, various rebel groups were being equipped, trained armed. In 1991, they managed to overthrown the military government.

However, the issue became worse due to the reason that, all the rebel groups now turned among themselves to gain the control of the country. This caused emergence of the civil war in various parts of the country. Due to the reason that, these factions were received support from their respective constituencies, they became the unofficial warlord of different regions in Somalia. In the later stage, Al-Shabaab was being formed with having the objective of implementing radical Islamic regulations in the country (Marchal 2013). This caused emergence of the terrorism in the country and this is still now going on. All these factors made Somalia a failed state in the global scenario.

Lack of Communication

As in Rwanda, the peacekeeping mission of United Nation is Somalia also got failed due to the various reasons. One of the key reasons being identified is the delay in sending the peacekeeper in the affected regions in Somalia (Williams 2013). It is being reported that, when the fight between the militias of General Mohamed Farah Aidid and Ali Mahdi broke out, there were no steps being taken by the policy makers in United Nations. This caused the matter went out of control when the peacekeepers are being send to the affected area. Moreover, due to the inclination of the policy makers in United Nations towards General Aidid, United Nations had not sent the troops to the affected regions as promised (Alex de Waa, 2017). Thus, having only a nominal number of troops compared to the huge number of the rebels in Somalia, positive outcome were not achieved. It is also being reported that, majority of the peacekeepers were being kept in the barracks. Thus, the basic motive of sending the peacekeepers were diluted (Anderson 2014).

Another reason that is being identified is the policy of dumping of cheap American food items in Somalia. In the initial stage the influx of the food items had positive outcomes due to giving famine in the country. However, in the later stage, local farmers deprived from getting the fair price due to the imported American items (Alex de Waa, 2017). This made the local Somalis becoming adverse to the presence of the peacekeepers. This is one of the key reasons due to the fact that, peacekeepers need the local support to fight the insurgents and thus, reduction in the local support had adverse implication on their effectiveness. One of the most important reasons is the behavior of the peacekeepers towards the local communities (Peter 2015). In the initial stage of the peacekeeping mission in Somalia, local people supported them in expecting that they will be protected from the insurgents. However, in the later stage it is being reported that, the peacekeeping soldiers are also being accused for beating, harassing and killing the innocents (Alex de Waa, 2017). Thus, for the local people, there was no difference between the insurgents and the peacekeepers. They are being accused of attacking the hospitals and bombing the innocent gatherings.

In the case of mitigating the civil war in Somalia also, lack of effective chain of command caused issues among the peacekeepers from different countries. This is due to the fact that, peacekeepers of the United Nations are being derived from the army of different countries (Bellamy and Williams 2013). However, there is no single chain of command among them; rather they have to wait for their command from their respective authority. This caused negative impact on the effectiveness of fighting against the insurgents. Thus, the above discussed factors are the key reasons for the failure of the peacekeeping mission of United Nation in Somalia. It also leads to no effective resolution of the conflict, which is still going on and gradually increasing (Allen and Yuen 2014).

Civil War of Somalia

The above discussed reasons are the key factors for the failure of the peacekeeping mission of United Nation in both Rwanda and Somalia. Thus, it is of urgent requirement that these failures should not be repeated again in future. Accordingly, the following sections will discuss about the recommended steps that should be effectively implemented in order to prevent the future chance of emergence of these issues.

  • One of the key recommended steps will be to initiate a singular approach of chain of command for the peacekeeping troops. This will help United Nations to manage the peacekeepers as a single unit. This will help them to lead and send the troops as unified force in the affected area. In addition, it will also help to reduce the delay in deploying the troops of different countries more effectively.
  • From the above discussed issues, it is being identified that, providing back up and supply chain for the deployed peacekeepers are not being managed effectively. In various cases, it is been seen that, proper equipment and facilities are not being delivered and provided to the deployed peacekeepers to the affected regions. In some other cases it is also being seen that, troops are not being deployed in proper amount, rather a part of the required troops is being deployed. This will made the deployed troops ineffective. Thus, the supply chain should be effectively maintained in order to meet the field requirement effectively and in less time.
  • The communication and decision making mechanism should be made effective among the policy makers in United Nations. This is due to the fact that, in the case of Rwanda and Somalia, it is being seen that, ineffective communication mechanism delayed the process of deploying troops in the affected region in less time. Thus, the decision making process should be enhanced in order to take the decision in less time in the case if an emergency.
  • Much of the effectiveness of the peacekeeping mission is being determined by the support of the local population. This is due to the fact that, local people will help the outside troops by providing the facilities and basic amenities to them and by providing strategic information about the insurgents. Moreover, it is difficult for the foreign troops to have the fair and clear idea about the local geographical scenario. This can also be overcome with the help of the locals. However, there are various accusations against the peacekeepers regarding the unethical practices with the local population. Thus, this should be avoided and prevented. The troops should be given proper and suitable training before deployment about the importance of following the ethical practices and the potential consequences in case of any breach.


Thus, from the above discussion it can be concluded that, there are several valid reasons for the failure of the peacekeeping missions of United Nations in Rwanda and Somalia. Major issues are being discussed in this essay. It is being identified that the major issues are the lack of effective communication among the policy makers in the United Nations. In addition, the lack of effective and singular approach of chain of command is another key issue being identified. Accordingly, various recommendations are being discussed in this essay. It is being expected that, effective implementation of the recommended steps being discussed in this essay will help to reduce the chance or probability of the failure of the peacekeeping mission in future.           


Alex de Waa, R. (2017). The U.N.'s Greatest Failure?. [online] tribunedigital-baltimoresun. Available at: [Accessed 25 Oct. 2017].

Allen, S.H. and Yuen, A.T., 2014. The politics of peacekeeping: UN Security Council oversight across peacekeeping missions. International Studies Quarterly, 58(3), pp.621-632.

Anderson, N., 2014. Peacekeepers fighting a counterinsurgency campaign: a net assessment of the African Union Mission in Somalia. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 37(11), pp.936-958.

Bellamy, A.J. and Williams, P.D. eds., 2013. Providing peacekeepers: the politics, challenges, and future of United Nations peacekeeping contributions. OUP Oxford.

Brattberg, E., 2012. Revisiting UN Peacekeeping in Rwanda and Sierra Leone. Peace Review, 24(2), pp.156-162.

Cunliffe, P., 2012. Still the spectre at the feast: Comparisons between peacekeeping and imperialism in peacekeeping studies today. International Peacekeeping, 19(4), pp.426-442.

Dwyer, M., 2015. Peacekeeping abroad, trouble making at home: Mutinies in West Africa. African Affairs, 114(455), pp.206-225. (2017). UN Failed Rwanda,. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Oct. 2017].

Hultman, L., Kathman, J. and Shannon, M., 2013. United Nations peacekeeping and civilian protection in civil war. American Journal of Political Science, 57(4), pp.875-891.

Jacobson, T.W., 2012. UN Peacekeeping: Few Successes, Many Failures, Inherent Flaws.

Keen, D., 2012. Greed and grievance in civil war. International Affairs, 88(4), pp.757-777.

Laqueur, W., 2016. A History of Terrorism: Expanded Edition. Transaction Publishers.

Mamdani, M., 2014. When victims become killers: Colonialism, nativism, and the genocide in Rwanda. Princeton University Press.

Marchal, R., 2013. Islamic political dynamics in the Somali civil war. Islam in Africa South of the Sahara: Essays in gender relations and political reform, 331.

Peter, M., 2015. Between doctrine and practice: The UN peacekeeping dilemma. Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations, 21(3), pp.351-370.

Schaal, S., Dusingizemungu, J.P., Jacob, N., Neuner, F. and Elbert, T., 2012. Associations between prolonged grief disorder, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and anxiety in Rwandan genocide survivors. Death Studies, 36(2), pp.97-117. (2017). UNITED NATIONS OPERATION IN SOMALIA I (UNOSOM I) - Background (Full text). [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Oct. 2017].

Wallis, A., 2014. Silent accomplice: the untold story of France's role in the Rwandan genocide. IB Tauris.

Williams, P., 2013. The African Union Mission in Somalia and Civilian Protection Challenges. Stability: International Journal of Security and Development, 2(2).

Yanagizawa-Drott, D., 2014. Propaganda and conflict: Evidence from the Rwandan genocide. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 129(4), pp.1947-1994.

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