Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Modern Languages and Literatures

First Advisor

Charles Batson

Second Advisor

Brian Peterson




french, military, relationship, genocide, operation


The following senior thesis examines France’s political, economic, and military relationship with Rwanda from 1962-present. It analyzes the questionable success of the French humanitarian intervention, dubbed Operation Turquoise, during the Rwandan genocide. Moreover, it explores how the neocolonial relationship between the two countries, and the so-called Françafrique system, while demonstrating the ways in which this relationship juxtaposed certain French notions of libérte, égalité, and fraternité. This paper explains how, before Belgian colonialism, the Hutu-Tutsi division was characterized by considerable ethnic fluidity but also social class differences. Yet, due to the fact that the Tutsi enjoyed a position of privilege during the colonial era, after independence the Hutu responded by reigning in a dictatorial manner over the Tutsi. This lasted until the genocide, and resulted in a large refugee population in Uganda. This paper will explore how Rwanda and France did not begin their peculiar neocolonial relationship until the 1970s, when the two countries struck certain arms trade deals. This military support increased dramatically as the Rwandan Patriotic Front gained ground starting in 1990. As this thesis shows, the French military would even train government militias, who developed into extremist organizations such as the Interhamwe. Then, during Operation Turquoise, the military was successful is establishing a “Safe Zone,” for the protection of hundreds of thousands of refugees. But through a lack of cultural understanding, the French were also responsible for thousands of deaths. The primary resources for this research included Thierry Prugngaud’s first hand account of Operation Turquoise and NGO’s arms reports on Rwanda. Many secondary sources were used containing interviews of Rwandans who came across the French before and during the genocide. Specifically, journalist Andrew Wallis’s book contained interviews of both genocidaires and victims, used to fully comprehend the Rwandan’s point of view.