The University of Georgia and Delta Air Lines present the 2012 Delta Prize for Global Understanding to Senator Roméo Dallaire, of Canada, for his efforts to promote human rights and prevent genocide.
In the fall of 1993, Senator Dallaire was commissioned as Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda and charged with implementing the Arusha Accords.
The Arusha Accords, a peace agreement, had been signed on August 4 to end a three-year civil war in Rwanda between the extremist Hutu government and the minority Tutsis.
In January of 1994, General Dallaire sent a fax to the director of U.N. operations in New York. In it, General Dallaire warned that, according to an informant, Hutu extremists were receiving a load of weapons and ammunition that would be used to kill Belgian peacekeepers and to exterminate massive numbers of Tutsis.
General Dallaire requested permission from the United Nations to seize those weapons. His request was denied.
The genocide began three months later, on April 6, after the assassination of Rwanda’s Hutu president. Enraged Hutu extremists began to massacre Tutsis and Hutu moderates.
General Dallaire immediately begged the United Nations for more troops and ammunition, and for the authority to use them against the rampaging Hutus.
He argued that with 5,000 additional well-equipped soldiers he would be able to halt the genocide. His request was denied.
Because he was not given the authority or manpower to stop the genocide, the genocide would last three months and result in some 800,000 deaths.
However, by defending specific areas where he knew Tutsis to be hiding, General Dallaire did save the lives of tens of thousands of people.
His heroic actions and his advocacy of international responsibility to prevent genocide won General Dallaire the admiration of the world.
Since then, Senator Dallaire has founded The Child Soldiers Initiative, to eradicate the use of child soldiers in Africa and elsewhere in the world.
He is an outspoken advocate for human rights, for genocide prevention initiatives, and for nuclear non-proliferation.
Senator Dallaire actively promotes the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine, a new international security and human rights norm to address the international community’s failure to prevent and stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
In 2003, General Dallaire wrote Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. He states in the book’s concluding paragraph:
As soldiers we have been used to moving mountains to protect our own sovereignty or risks to our way of life. In the future we must be prepared to move beyond national self-interest to spend our resources and spill our blood for humanity…. [T]his new century must become the Century of Humanity, when we as human beings rise above race, creed, colour, religion and national self-interest and put the good of humanity above the good of our own tribe.
For his leadership in putting the good of humanity above the good of any individual group of people, the University of Georgia and Delta Air Lines award the 2012 Delta Prize for Global Understanding to Senator Roméo Dallaire.