Travel Log 7: “Global Responsibility” Part 1 by Sam McGrath Cork, Ireland

The Rwandan Genocide cartoon that I decided to choose depicts how much the world stood and watched during its occurrence. In this specific cartoon the artist shows the floor of the United Nations on the 20th anniversary of the tragedy. To commemorate the event the speaker says they will do what they did during the event, nothing. The speaker is speaking to an almost empty audience, with only the cleaning lady in attendance.

In 1994 for the 100 days that the genocide of Tutsi by Hutus occurred, many international countries did nothing. They came in with hundreds of soldiers, got the natives of their country, and promptly left, offering no assistance in stopping the mass executions that were happening right beside them. As Romeo Dallaire said in the documentary “Shake Hands with the Devil” the soldiers literally had to move around the tons of bodies that were piling up on the streets while they retrieved their native citizens. Even after Dallaire went to the floor of the United Nations and pleaded with them to intervene with what was boiling over in Rwanda, a nation loosely brought together after a deadly civil war, there was no intervention by most international countries. As one of the correspondents said in the documentary Africa was Africa and didn’t matter. They didn’t have anything to sell or the ability to buy with the Western countries, so those countries decided not to help out in the mass killings that left bodies strewed about in the street.

The artist of this cartoon was trying to depict how the United Nations did nothing and also wanted people to remember the horrible tragedy that is more or less glazed over by most other countries because of the shame of not intervening. In article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it says, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”, and that is exactly what was happening in Rwanda in 1994. The United Nations purpose is to foster peace throughout the world and foster cooperation in solving big problems marring countries, including humanitarian problems. The United Nations didn’t fulfill this obligation for quite some time due to political problems and deciding if the fighting could be considered a genocide (once a genocide is announced in the world the United Nations is obligated to intervene in accordance with their charter). Two days before the debate on whether to intervene was to be had wounded US peacekeepers were attacked by a mob in Somalia. This caused the US and other countries to have doubts in sending people to Rwanda and further elongated the political controversy. Political controversy is still plaguing countries from helping in human rights violations. The European migrant crisis for example, where thousands of Syrian refugees are pouring into Europe, has many European countries not offering protection or shelter to refugees from their war torn countries. Like the UN during the Rwandan Genocide, the European Union are still debating over the definition of a refugee and are keeping people from attaining their human rights. Again it is evident how much politics seems to slow down the process of actually helping people and saving lives. Hopefully people can learn from the past crisis in Rwanda and see how much tragedy can become of not taking action, who knows how many lives could be bettered and saved.


One thought on “Travel Log 7: “Global Responsibility” Part 1 by Sam McGrath Cork, Ireland

  1. Sam,

    I thought this cartoon was such a different perspective especially through its sarcastic tone. It was so interesting to see the United Nation’s role in the Rwandan Genocide. We always think of the UN as an organization that brings peace and harmony and it is such a shame to see that they dropped the ball on this one. It is crazy how everyone did not comprehend the severity of this issue. Hopefully they have learned from this.



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