Stability In Ethnic Conflict Case Study

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The Role of Stability in Ethnic Conflicts: Rwanda vs Belgium Rwanda and Belgium are both states where two nations are forced to coexist, which causes conflict inside the borders of each country. In Rwanda, the conflict between the two groups exploded in 1994 and resulted in a mass genocide that has lingering tension twenty-two years later. In Belgium, the conflict is not violent but the divide caused two government shutdowns and a strong nationalist movement in the Flemish north. While the two conflicts are similar because they have a clear divide between ethnic groups, there are clear differences in the two situations. In Rwanda much of the discord is due to historical prejudice, whereas in Belgium a strong linguistic and cultural divide …show more content…
In Rwanda, relations between the Hutu majority ethnic group and the Tutsi minority group have been historically bad due to the Tutsis receiving favorable treatment from Western powers (“Rwanda: How the Genocide Happened” 1. Their conflict has more to do with perception of each other than physical difference as the two groups speak the same language, have the same culture, and look very similar. Despite these physical and cultural similarities, tension between the two escalated dramatically on April 6, 1994 when the Rwandan president of the time was shot and killed. Hutu leaders in government blamed Tutsi rebels for the attack and issued a “campaign of retribution” to punish the Tutsis (“Rwanda: How the Genocide Happened” 1). This was essentially an order for Hutus to slaughter any Tutsi that lasted until July when the rebel Tutsi group captured the government and stopped the violence (“Rwanda: How the Genocide Happened” 1). The results of this were catastrophic as an estimated 1 million people were killed, 150,000-200,000 were raped and another 1.5 million exiled the country (“Rwanda: A Brief History of the Country). This genocide is very different from the conflict in Belgium because of the violent consequences. In Belgium, while the lives of both ethnic groups are affected by the tension, there is little to no violence and no …show more content…
The genocide in Rwanda did not happen for financial reasons, but an overall state of poverty could have contributed to its severity. There was not a large income gap between the two which shows that economic inequality was not a major cause of the genocide. The overall poverty of the country did leave it more susceptible to violence as countries with a GDP per capita of under $250 are 74% more likely to enter a civil war than those with a GDP per capita of at least $1,250 (Williams 1). This is different than the economic landscape and Belgium, where the overall standard of living is relatively high, but there is a rather large gap between Flanders and Wallonia. The Dutch north tends to be more well off and seems to be capable of independence, but the south is much worse off and independence is dubious without Brussels, which is landlocked in Flanders (Belien 1). This leads to a strong nationalistic movement in Flanders as they feel Wallonia is holding the north back economically. This inequality is a root of the conflict in Belgium, which differs from Rwanda where both groups live in the same low standard of living. Overall, economic inequality is only an issue in Belgium, but statewide economic stability is a key reason why Rwanda fell into chaos and Belgium has not

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