In This Review

Remaking Rwanda: State Building and Human Rights after Mass Violence (Critical Human Rights)
Remaking Rwanda: State Building and Human Rights after Mass Violence (Critical Human Rights)
Edited by Scott Straus and Lars Waldorf
University of Wisconsin Press, 2011, 320 pp.

There is still a steady flow of books about the Rwandan genocide of 1994. But Rwanda’s present circumstances have been largely neglected. This edited volume is perhaps the first serious attempt to assess contemporary politics in Rwanda over the course of the last decade. The portrait that emerges is decidedly mixed. The country boasts what is perhaps the least corrupt civil service in Africa, a disciplined and sometimes visionary instrument of economic and social development. On the other hand, the book argues, the government of President Paul Kagame displays some dogmatically authoritarian tendencies, which might ultimately hamper economic and political development. The book’s best chapters show the extent to which the government has instrumentalized the memory of the genocide to stifle dissent and international criticism, sometimes with considerable cynicism. One theme that emerges from the book is that the regime’s judicial system for dealing with the crimes of the 1990s, although innovative and sometimes genuinely participatory, has been manipulated to intimidate Kagame’s political opponents, while the regime still refuses to address the considerable human rights violations its own agents committed during that era.