Sample International Relations Paper on Genocide in Rwanda

Part A: Critique of Presentation

The presentation is based on a case study of the Rwandan genocide that caused more than 800,000 lives in 1994. The Rwandan genocide involved internecine killing between the two major ethnic groups that make up Rwanda – the Hutus and Tutsis. During the genocide, the Hutus, being the majority, planned and implemented the systematic decimation of their Tutsis counterparts. Though the Rwandan genocide and civil war had been planned by the Hutu political elite, the actual start of the killings started on 6th April 1994 with the assassination of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana (Power, 2001, p. 92). An hour after the confirmation of the death of President Habyarimana, Hutu militia supported by their military and police counterparts unleashed terror on Tutsis living in Kigali (Melvern, 2012). Through proper planning and organization, the Hutu militia spread their terror gradually throughout Rwanda as they massacred unarmed Tutsis and their Hutu collaborators. The bloody genocide finally came to an end when the Rwanda Patriotic Front led by Colonel Paul Kagame seized Kigali on 4th July 1994 (Power, 2001, p. 96). The three-month conflict had resulted in the death of more than a million Rwandans with the international community blamed for their nonchalance as they watched Rwanda burn to the ground.

The presentation utilizes Marxist international relations and economic theory to critique and analyze the Rwandan genocide. The presentation is characterized by the role played by imperialism in the instigation and protraction of the Rwandan genocide. The presentation looks at how developed Western nations such as Belgium and France fueled the conflict as they provided not only finances but also arms that were used in the decimation of the Tutsis. The presentation admonishes both France and Belgium, who had strong relations with Rwanda, for failing to protect the innocent and unarmed Tutsis yet they had soldiers inside the nation. The Marxist economic theory utilized by the presentation, also takes to task the role played by international financial institutions in instigating and financing the Rwandan genocide. The case study blames the structural adjustment policies of the International Monetary Fund for creating a suitable environment for violence in the country and financing the Hutu led regime even when it was evident that Hutus were killing Tutsis en masse.

The Marxist international relations and economic theory utilized in the presentation highlights the role of imperialism in instigating and fueling the Rwandan genocide. However, the Marxist theory does not bring out the role and failure of international organizations and global politics in finding a quick and ample solution to the Rwandan conflict. Relying on constructivism as an international relations theory, I will critique the presentation’s findings and position on the Rwandan genocide. Constructivism in the field of international relations holds that nations are not the key power players in international politics, rather, it is the multitude of international organizations and institutions that shape the global order (Power, 2001, p. 89). The constructivist perspective also maintains that the principles of international lobbying and pacification are the best approach to solving disputes or large-scale violence that borders on genocide and war (Power, 2001, p. 90). According to constructivism, international organizations such as the United Nations and the African Union had a massive role to play in seeking a peaceful solution to the Rwandan conflict. The presentation on the Rwandan genocide does not highlight any role played by international organizations in ending the conflict and completely overlooks the fact that the United Nations sent a peacekeeping mission in Rwanda (Toussaint, 2004). The presentation also fails to highlight the indifference that characterized the United Nations handling of the Rwandan Genocide as it reduced the number of peacekeepers in the country at the height of the slaughter of Tutsis. By focusing on imperialism the presentation does not reveal the glaring ineffectiveness of the African Union in solving the Rwandan dispute even though Rwanda is an African nation. The Marxist approach does not provide intricate details of how international organizations charged with maintaining world peace failed to protect the unarmed Tutsis from internecine decimation.

Part B: Analysis of IR Perspective

The Neoliberal theory of international relations is a strong proponent of globalization and world interconnectedness. Neoliberal activists Dollar and Kray argue that globalization which started around 1980, has promoted economic equality and reduced poverty (Dollar & Kraay, 2002, p. 125). Globalization is a process concerned with the deepening and hastening of interconnectedness among all the regions and nations of the world (Dollar & Kraay, 2002, p. 129). Dollar and Kray hold that through globalization global security has improved as poverty has been reduced and economic equality improved (Dollar & Kraay, 2002, p. 125). Post-Cold War studies on security expanded the traditional view which held military conflict to be the main threat of international peace. Ken Booth, a global security expert and international relations scholar, came up with the emancipation school of thought in the 1980s to explain the Post-Cold War global security issues. The emancipation theory holds that freedom, both political and economic, is the basis of true international peace (Milner, 2005, p. 837). Economic inequality and poverty are economic challenges that threaten global peace and need to be tackled by all nations of the world. Poverty and inequality threaten peace as it results in creations of hostilities between the rich and the poor that can result in violence. Dollar and Krav (2002) argues that through globalization, global poverty and economic inequality levels have been reduced and are essential in ensuring global peace. Economic globalization and development are thus a factor in ensuring that global security is preserved through international trade and commerce.

Several empirical examples can be used to support Dollar and Krav’s argument on the impact of globalization on economic inequality and poverty. Empirical evidence of the economic performance of the Philippines, China, and India, since the introduction of globalization in the 1980s, can be utilized to show how interconnectedness has resulted in reduced poverty and economic inequalities globally. Before the 1980s the Philippines, China, and India were nations that were characterized by high poverty levels and economic inequality between the rich and the poor. The average annual per capita growth of China, India, and the Philippines was a meager one percent in the 1960s (Wolf & Wade, 2002, p. 19). Through economic globalization which resulted in increased foreign trade and investments by China, India, and the Philippines, the nations averaged an annual per capita growth of five percent in the early 1990s (Wolf & Wade, 2002, p. 19). The massive increase in the per capita growth of these nations can be traced to massive wealth generation in the countries due to investments of the profits generated from international trade. Unlike reduction in poverty levels, there is no uniformity in the reduction of economic inequalities of the three nations due to the divergent economic and social policies enacted by the countries (Wolf & Wade, 2002, p. 20). The Philippines that had proper social policies than China and India witnessed reduced inequality levels together with Singapore compared to any other nation in Asia (Wolf & Wade, 2002, p. 20). Though not backed by proper social policies both India and China recorded huge reductions in economic inequalities thanks to globalization.

Global studies scholars, Dollar and Kraay, underpin their arguments on the neoliberal international relations and economics theory. The neoliberal theory utilized by Dollar and Kraay does a great job in highlighting how globalization raised the economy of developing nations while tackling economic threats to global peace such as poverty. The theory has significant shortcomings that I will critique using the Marxist international relations and economics theory. The Marxist theory of international relations holds that globalization is an ideological construction of the West to economically exploit developing nations through unbalanced international commerce (Wolf & Wade, 2002, p. 19). Dollar and Kraay in their arguments on economic globalization do not look at the inequality and exploitation that characterize foreign trade. The Marxist theory holds that international trade, fostered by economic globalization, is based on the exploitation of developing nations by the developed countries (Milner, 2005, p. 840). Marxist argue that the basis of international trade lies in the cheap exportation of unfinished goods to the capitalist metropolis and the subsequent importation of highly-priced finished goods by the developing nations (Milner, 2005, p. 840). Dollar and Kraay’s arguments also do not analyze the unbalanced nature of international trade which is skewed to ensure that developed nations benefit more than developing nations in every commerce transaction. The prices of international trade products such as coffee and iron are set by developed nations that ensure that their prices remain relatively low for their maximum benefit (Milner, 2005, p. 841). Dollar and Kraay also fail to address the imperialistic nature of international financial institutions which are the creations of economic globalization. Imperialistic policies enacted by the International Monetary Fund such as those imposing structural adjustments among African nations is only aimed at making developing nations economically dependent on Europe and America (Milner, 2005, p. 851). Though economic globalization has resulted in a reduction in global poverty and inequality levels it has also promoted imperialism and exploitation of developing nations.

Part C: Semantic Wave

The semantic wave concept is a relatively new notion in the learning process. Semantic waves are aimed at enhancing wholesome learning as they facilitate deep learning by involving the conceptualization, analysis, and comprehension of cumulative knowledge (Maton, 2013, p. 10). Using a wave-like process, the semantic wave concept enables learners to effectively move from abstract theory to empirical evidence of the theory in practice. This enables learners to have a deeper understanding of the theory both in its abstract nature and in its practical form. Modern educational experts hold that the semantic wave process of learning is the appropriate solution to knowledge blindness which affects numerous students today (Maton, 2013, p. 14). The top-down approach of the semantic wave process simplifies abstract concepts by transferring knowledge from a decontextualized form into a context-dependent meaning that is simple and easily relatable to real-world events (Maton, 2013, p. 15). The use of real-world examples further simplifies abstract knowledge for students enabling them to identify theoretical principles in practical activities and processes (Maton, 2013, p. 15). The simplifying nature of the semantics wave model enables students to have an in-depth cumulative understanding of challenging abstract concepts. The semantic wave concept is largely utilized in the social sciences field that has numerous abstract theories and can be easily related to practical empirical evidence. The semantic wave model utilizes the top-down approach to simplify concepts, and tackle knowledge blindness and promote comprehensive and cumulative learning.

This assignment, being of a social sciences nature, I have utilized the semantic wave model in my answers above. Using the top-down model of the semantic wave model, I introduce my paragraphs by relevant abstract theory. I then explain the abstract theory before continuing to provide a relevant empirical example to support the theory. In my conclusion, I complete the semantic wave model by reconnecting the empirical evidence to the theory in question. For example in Part B of the assignment, concerned with the analysis of an international relations perspective, I introduced my critique by providing details of Dollar and Kraay’s neoliberal theory. I elaborated on the theory by providing empirical evidence based on the economic performance of China, India, and the Philippines. Then, I introduced my critiquing Marxist theory and provided real-world examples of its use in international trade. Lastly, I concluded by connecting the Marxist theory to the examples utilized to indicate the shortcomings of Dollar and Kraay’s theory of neoliberalism.



Dollar, D. & Kraay, A., 2002. Spreading the wealth. Foreign Aff.81, pp.120-132.

Maton, K., 2013. Making semantic waves: A key to cumulative knowledge-building. Linguistics and education24(1), pp.8-22.

Melvern, L., 2012. Rwanda: At last we know the truth. The Guardian10.

Milner, H.V., 2005. Globalization, development, and international institutions: Normative and positive perspectives. Perspectives on Politics3(4), pp.833-854.

Power, S., 2001. Bystanders to genocide. Atlantic Monthly288(2), pp.84-108.

Toussaint, E., 2004. Rwanda 10 Years on: Uncovering the Financiers of the Genocide. Red Pepper.

Wolf, M. and Wade, R., 2002. Are global poverty and inequality getting worse?. Prospect Magazine72, pp.16-21.