by Peter Uvin
Kumarian Press, West Hartford, CT. 1998. 288 pp. (Paperback) ISBN: 1565490835, (Cloth) ISBN: 1565490843.
Peter Uvin shifts focus from the role played by the international community in responding to the Rwandan genocide of 1994 with humanitarian aid, to consideration of the role played, or not played, by the development aid community operative in Rwanda leading into the 1990s. Uvin details how international organizations, in addition to failing to catch warning signs of impending genocide and respond appropriately, also failed to weigh carefully the effects and potential to harm inherent in the development programs. The development community failed to acknowledge institutionalized racism and indirectly intensified inequalities and the social exclusion of peasants. The development community failed while believing its efforts were successful, pointing to traditional development indicators that made the country’s outlook seem so promising.
Given increasing efforts to monitor and measure the potential for genocide throughout the world, Uvin’s book is an important tool in stimulating discussion and debate about the role of the international community in preventing genocide and structural violence in all stages of development, well in advance of deterioration into violence. Aiding Violence points us to the need to rethink the development process, increase its accountability, and cleanse it of the elements that unwittingly exacerbate social problems instead of support for positive social change.