My research explores the evolution of Rwanda's foreign policy from its use of the 'genocide guilt card' in orienting itself in the aftermath of the Genocide to its adoption of western discourses and practices around security and humanitarian intervention and pursuit of regional hegemony.
Following the 1994 Genocide, the liberating forces that formed the country's new government, led by Paul Kagame, focused its efforts on state security and on preventing a future genocide. As part of this policy, it sought out and fought against genocide perpetrators across the border in Zaire and later the Democratic Republic of Congo. Questionable acts undertaken in the course of this were justified by parts of the international community on the basis of its admission of guilt at not having intervened to stop the Rwandan Genocide in 1994; and the Rwandan government itself utilised the genocide guilt card to maximise its negotiations for aid from the West.
However, since the end of the Second Congo in 2003, Rwanda's foreign policy has oriented itself more towards state development than security. It accumulates political and economic power through its peacekeeping missions, interventions to secure regional stability, economic and governmental development. Based on its visible commitments to state development and regional peace initiatives, Rwanda has strengthened its strategic relationships with the Western powers with particular focus towards the United States.
It has moved away from its earlier reliance on the genocide guilt card, having accepted their responsibilities and failures in stopping the genocide, Rwanda's international donors became less susceptible to feelings of guilt, and challenged Rwanda to prove that it was prepared to orient itself to a brighter future, as a means of securing financial and political aid, and is fomenting a position of regional power and hegemony through its proven and ongoing track record as an agile negotiator and peace-keeper.