Explaining the 1994 genocide in Rwanda

Helen M. Hintjens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

164 Citations (Scopus)


Any adequate account of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda must acknowledge manipulation by external forces, domestic pressures and psychological factors. Even so, the nature of the Rwandan state must be seen as absolutely central. The genocide took place under the aegis of the state, and Rwandans were the main actors involved. Both precolonial legacies and colonial policies contributed to the formation of this state, whose increasingly autocratic and unpopular government was, by the early 1990s, facing serious threats to its hold on state power, for which genocide represented a last-ditch attempt at survival. Many of the mechanisms through which genocide was prepared, implemented and justified in Rwanda bore striking resemblances to those used during the twentieth century's other major genocide, the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-286
Number of pages46
JournalJournal of Modern African Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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