Inter-ethnic/State Relations: Arusha Accord - 4 August 1993

Protocol of Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and the Rwandese Patriotic Front on the Rule of Law (18 August 1992.)

Article 2

National unity implies that the Rwandese people, as constituent elements of the Rwandese nation, are one and indivisible. It also implies the necessity to fight all obstacles to national unity, notably, ethnicism, regionalism, integrism and intolerance which subordinate the national interest to ethnic, regional, religious and personal interest.

Article 3

National unity entails the rejection of all exclusions and any form of discrimination based notably, on ethnicity, region, sex and religion. It also entails that all citizens have equal opportunity of access to all the political, economic and other advantages, which access must be guaranteed by the State.

Article 8

The two parties resolutely reject and undertake to fight:

- political ideologies based on ethnicity, region, religion and intolerance which subordinate national interest to the ethnic, regional, religious or personal interest;

- any form of coup d'etat as being contrary to the democratic system as described above.

Protocol of Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and the Rwandese Patriotic Front on Miscellaneous Issues and Final Provisions (3 August 1993)

Article 16: Deletion of reference to Ethnic Group in Official Documents

The Broad-Based Transitional Government shall, from the date of its assumption of office, delete from all official documents to be issued any reference to ethnic origin. Documents in use or not yet used shall be replaced by those not bearing any reference to ethnic origin.

Implementation History

1993

No Implementation

As a way out of ethnic conflict in Rwanda, the Arusha accord sought to eliminate ethnic identity and promote inter-ethnic reconciliations. In this regard, the accord called for the deletion of references to ethnic grouping in official documents, as well as a rejection of political ideology based on ethnic identity. No developments occured this year. 

1994

Intermediate Implementation

After the genocide, the national unity government eliminated all ethnic references from official documents. According to a news report, Mr. Kagame, the leader of the victorious rebel movement, said that both the personal identification card and official documents would contain no references to ethnic origins.1

  • 1. "Rwanda's Leaders Vow to Build a Multiparty State for Both Hutu and Tutsi," The New York Times, September 7, 1994
1995

Intermediate Implementation

The mention of ethnicity was officially removed from identity cards when the new government began to issue cards in 1995.2

  • 2. “Rwanda: Procedure for obtaining or replacing a national identification card including a description of the card and information on the 'attestation d'identité' signed by a burgomaster,” Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, June 14, 2007.
1996

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year. 

1997

Intermediate Implementation

It was reported that the Rwandan government continued to eliminate references to ethnic origin from state documents and national identity cards.3

1998

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year. 

1999

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year. 

2000

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year. 

2001

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year. 

2002

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

Postscript: Other reforms related to promoting inter-ethnic relations also took place. In these instances, radical ethnic parties were not invited to join the National Unity Government. The new constitution, which came into force in June 2003, did not only eradicate the ethnic divisions but also rendered propaganda based on ethnic origin punishable by law. The constitution eliminates discrimination based on ethnic identity as well as formation of political organization or party based on ethnic orientation.4

At the same time, some government policies continued to promote ethnic identification. Both the special genocide courts and gacaca courts tried only genocide crimes, and the determination of which crimes were considered genocide was based almost exclusively on ethnic identity. Furthermore, many regime critics have charged that the regime actively discriminates in favor of Tutsi, particularly returned former Tutsi refugees who constitute the core of RPF support. Laws banning ethnic identification make it impossible for people to complain publicly about ethnic discrimination lest they be accused of “divisionism” or supporting “ethnic ideology.”