The recent report of a U.N. panel concluded that the United Nations and the United States are to blame for the failure to react to the genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 or more people in 1994 [news story, Dec. 17].

As the major world power, the United States had a two-fold responsibility. First, before the genocide, the U.S. government received warning of the planned extermination of all the Tutsis in Rwanda and of the possibility that as many as 1,000 people could be killed every 20 minutes. What action was taken to prevent these events? Second, after the massacres started, the United States refused to acknowledge that the mass murder in Rwanda constituted a genocide or to include such a determination in U.N. resolutions.

Morally and legally, the international community has an obligation to react against genocide. Independent inquiries have been completed in Belgium and France and within the U.N. on their respective roles. It is now up to Congress to open an investigation on the U.S. role. Both the victims and the American public deserve to know the facts.



The writer is a member of the Belgian Senate.