Kigali wants ICTR genocide archives

Saturday April 28 2012

Rwanda is determined to have all the genocide archives at the Arusha based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda transferred to Kigali contrary to a UN resolution.

The UN Security Council Resolution 1966 in 2010 concluded the archives not only belong to the UN, but they will also remain in Arusha.

To achieve this, Rwanda intends to exert influence through the rotational two-year non-permanent member slot at the Security Council, which is reserved for the East and Southern Africa region, and whose elections are due this September.

Rwanda has vigorously campaigned for the slot and seems poised to win it after securing the key support of South Africa, the outgoing holder of the seat, as well as the African Union, several African countries and some from European and Asian countries too, according to information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Rwanda, more than many African countries, has managed to assert itself on the international stage and has succeeded in having its way, observers note. As such, they don’t put it beyond Rwanda’s capabilities, with a seat at the decision table, to gain possession of the archives. Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame speaking at the 18th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide at Amahoro National Stadium, said “I wish to point out that the history of a people belongs primarily to them and although many of our people perished in the genocide, it is still our history,” Kagame said. “The aftermath of the genocide, whether it is evidence given in court, judgments delivered by those courts, or a new country that emerged after it, all these are ours, even if this is to be shared with the rest of the world, especially our own continent,” he added.

Whereas the UN acknowledged that the archives are significant to victims, witnesses and their families and, more widely, the entire population, in deciding to keep them in Arusha, the UN noted that the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, which it established after the ICTR, would need to use them in fulfilling its mandate to finish the remaining tasks of the court.


The mechanism will commence work on July 1, 2012 and operate concurrently with the ICTR, which will concentrate its efforts on appeals. The UN’s decision was also based on the fact that Rwanda did not have a sufficient location that would meet the various requirements for security, preservation and accessibility of the archives.

According to the 2009 Secretary General’s report on which the 1966 Resolution was based, the projected storage needs for paper records for ICTR by 2010 was 2,336 shelf metres. The total amount of digital storage requirements was estimated at 1,020 terabytes, and they would require specific server rooms. The cost of staffing was estimated at approximately $1.7 million for the management of the archives.