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Life After Genocide

Comparing Bosnia and Rwanda

A photograph of a young Rwandan child is displayed in a gallery of genocide victims at the Kigali Memorial Centre in Kigali, Rwanda, February 19, 2008. Jason Reed / Reuters

It was 20 years ago this month that Europe saw the worst crime on its soil since World War II. From July 11–13, 1995, the Bosnian Serb Army methodically executed approximately 8,000 Bosnian Muslims after conquering the UN-designated “safe area” of Srebrenica. The genocide in Bosnia was particularly shocking because it occurred less than one year after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, during which members of the Hutu majority killed approximately 800,000 people in a gruesome ethnic cleansing campaign against the Tutsi minority. Their civil wars and genocidal violence left both countries severely damaged and traumatized. The United States and its allies dispatched their best diplomats, military commanders, and development experts to Bosnia to devise and implement the Dayton Accords, whereas Rwanda was largely left alone to determine its political future. Twenty years later, Rwanda is frequently cited as a success story and Bosnia is widely viewed as teetering on the brink of renewed violence.

A Bosnian flag and a sign flutter in front of a burned government building in Tuzla, February 8, 2014. Protesters across Bosnia set fire to government buildings and fought with riot police on Friday as long-simmering anger over lack of jobs and political
A Bosnian flag and a sign flutter in front of a burned government building in Tuzla, February 8, 2014. Protesters across Bosnia set fire to government buildings and fought with riot police on Friday as long-simmering anger over lack of jobs and political inertia fueled a third day of civil unrest. Srdjan Zivulovic / Reuters
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