The cartoon above is mocking the United Nations during the Rwandan Genocide. In 1994 Rwanda went through a horrifying genocide between the two groups – Hutu and Tutsi. This conflict ended in one of the bloodiest horrors that the world has experienced. Having watched Hotel Rwanda as part of my high school social studies class, I remember having to leave the room during the part when a road was lined with dead bodies and there was no other road to get back to town, so the main character was forced to drive over them as it would have taken them weeks to move all of them. This cartoon is portraying the lack of action from the United Nations during this conflict. The documentary we watched as a class Shake Hands with the Devil showed how there were pleas from UN officials to send aid to Rwanda, however there was no action to bring justice to the situation. It is very reminiscent of The Holocaust in that action was only taken when it was too late.
It was the UN’s responsibility to protect the people during this time of need, yet they sat by and did nothing while horrors were unfolding. According to Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written by the UN, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person”. (1948) In this account, the United Nations was not following their own principles by helping those who were being killed off in the thousands. The artist shows a sleeping UN official holding a gun sitting next to provisions while “Rwanda” burns in the background. It is not as if the UN official was making an attempt to help the people, but it clearly shows that they are not even stirred by a great fire breaking out. This shows not only ignorance on their part but also negligence to what was happening around them. The UN should have been sending in military personal to help the people as well as provisions and drafts to possibly make a two-state solution.
There are many more recent examples of this lack of action by the United Nations such as the genocides of Sudan and Darfur. Though there have been several genocides in the past 100 years closely studies by the population, we still see these events unfold with little to no action by governments in authority. The world population as a whole has taken used to shutting their eyes to such things as it was not directly affecting them, but now I believe that we are gaining a new light on the situation and seeing with our own eyes through these films that we cannot sit by when things are out of sight. We as global citizens have the responsibility to take action when someone’s human rights are being violated.
The United Nations. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 1948. Print.