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Annan, Boutros-Ghali and the Rwanda Genocide










November 1995: The Belgian daily De Morgen first publishes extracts from the now famous 'Dallaire fax' sent on 11 January 1994 to Kofi Annan, then Head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Commander of the UN troops in Rwanda, Romeo Dallaire, warns of planned massacres revealed by a top militia informer

March 1996: A five-volume Danish-led study on the Rwanda debacle concludes that the 'Dallaire fax' had been overlooked at the UN Headquarters in New York

16 November 1996: In the Danish daily Information, Gunnar Willum and Bjørn Willum document that the 'Dallaire fax' as well as other information on the planning of massacres were not overlooked, but in fact deliberately suppressed in order to avoid a clash with influential Security Council members. “We had to consider what the traffic can bear," a high-ranking DPKO says. Information also reveals how during February and March 1994, Belgian Foreign Minister Willy Claes several times asked Annan to intervene against Hutu extremists' stockpiling of weapons. Annan declines and instead tells the Belgium government to "make sure these elements be tackled"

19 November 1996: Information documents how then UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has lied about the role of his Secretariat in official statements and publications. Among others, Boutros-Ghali claims that he informed the Security Council about the 'Dallaire fax', but this is refuted by both a former high-ranking UN official and the Czech Ambassador to the UN, Karel Kovanda, who was President of the Security Council during January 1994

23 November 1996: The Daily Telegraph quotes Information

28 November 1996: Quoting Information, the Boston Globe runs a front-page story on Annan's role in Rwanda

28 November 1996: Following the Boston Globe story, Annan and Boutros-Ghali's roles in the Rwanda Genocide are subjects of attention at the daily press briefing at the UN Headquarters. Boutros-Ghali's Spokesperson, Sylvana Fóa, calls Bjørn Willum and Gunnar Willum "two very sleazy kids who passed themselves up as members of a research institute and then passed themselves up as journalists but turned out to be undergraduates." Editor-in-Chief of Information, Jacob Mollerup, demands an apology from Sylvana Fóa

29 November 1996: Following pressure from several Danish MPs, then Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helveg-Petersen reluctantly demands an explanation from Boutros-Ghali

11 December 1996: High-ranking UN officials obstruct the Danish investigation. Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helveg-Petersen backs out

13 December 1996: Following US opposition to a renewed term for Boutros-Ghali, Annan is elected as new Secretary-General of the UN

September 1997: The Washington Post runs a front-page story on the 'Dallaire fax'.

11 May 1998: The New Yorker magazine publishes 'The Genocide Fax', an essay by the author Philip Gourevitch that recapitulates the story. International media such as the CNN once again sharpens attention on the case. Annan rejects an investigation and says his role in the Rwanda Genocide is an 'old story'

July 1998: During a visit to Rwanda, Annan is snubbed as the Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu decides to stay away from a dinner held in Annan's honour. Annan refuses to apologize for his own role in the Genocide

10 December 1998: On the UN's 50th anniversary, Belgian Senator Alain Destexhe calls for an enquiry into the investigations

April 1999: Annan gives into pressure and appoints an independent inquiry team - headed by former Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson

Mid-1999: In his memoir, 'UNvanquished', Boutros-Ghali writes that Annan never told him about the 'Dallaire fax', and that he first learned about it in 1996

September 1999: 'Legitimizing Inaction Towards Genocide in Rwanda - A Matter of Misperception?' by Bjørn Willum is published in the International Peacekeeping journal

16 December 1999: The inquiry team publishes its report, which contains serious criticism of the way the UN Secretariat and Annan handled the Rwanda crisis. "On behalf of the UN, I acknowledge this failure and express my deep remorse," Annan says

12 October 2001: Citing among others Annan's emphasis on the UN's "obligations with regard to human rights", the Norwegian Nobel Committee decides that Annan and the UN organization should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

3 December 2001: Bjørn Willum and Therese Heltberg initiate a petition at to prevent UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan from being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

10 December 2001: In Oslo, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the UN organisation receive the centennial Nobel Peace Prize