The ignorant bystander?

Britain and the Rwandan genocide of 1994

By Dean White

The ignorant bystander?


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-0747-3
  • Pages: 192
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £26.00
  • Published Date: February 2017
  • BIC Category: Politics, International relations, POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Genocide & War Crimes, Society & social sciences / International relations, Humanities / Genocide & ethnic cleansing


The ignorant bystander: Britain and the Rwandan genocide uses a case study of Britain's response to the genocide to explore what factors motivate humanitarian intervention in overseas crises. The Rwandan genocide was one of the bloodiest events in the late twentieth century and the international community's response has stimulated a great deal of interest and debate ever since. In this study, Dean White provides the most thorough review of Britain's response to the crisis written to date. The research draws on previously unseen documents and interviews with ministers and senior diplomats, and examines issues such as how the decision to intervene was made by the British Government, how media coverage led to a significant misunderstanding of the crisis, and how Britain shaped debate at the UN Security Council. The book concludes by comparing the response to Rwanda, to Britain's response to the recent crises in Syria and Libya.


1. History of the crisis
2. The ignorant bystander?
3. The indifferent bystander?
4. The bystander who did too little, too late?
5. The responsible bystander?
Selected bibliography


Dean White is an independent scholar and 2013 winner of the British International History Group thesis prize

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