British Media and the Rwandan Genocide  book cover
1st Edition

British Media and the Rwandan Genocide

ISBN 9780367735746
Published December 18, 2020 by Routledge
286 Pages

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Book Description

Throughout the 1990s, humanitarian interventionism sat at a crossroads, where ideas about rights and duties within and beyond borders collided with an international reality of civil conflict where the most basic human rights were violated in the most brutal manner. This growing awareness of humanitarian crises has been enabled by a more globalized media which increasingly shapes public perceptions of distant crises, public opinion, and political decision-making.

Clarke examines the extent to which the public discourse, and particular concepts, including those of an ethical and legal nature, influenced British newspaper coverage of the 1994 crisis in Rwanda, and, in turn, the extent to which that coverage influenced the British Parliament’s response to the crisis. Through his development and application of a broader methodological approach that combines both quantitative and qualitative analyses, the book offers a fuller understanding of the relationship between media coverage, parliamentary debate, and policy formulation, and the central role that the globalized media plays in this process.

Integrating ethics, law and empirical analysis of the media to obtain a more cohesive understanding of the chemistry of the media-public policy nexus, this work will be of interest to graduates and scholars in a range of areas, including Genocide Studies, the Responsibility to Protect, the Media & Politics and International Relations.

Table of Contents

Part I


1. Ideas, the media, and humanitarian intervention

Part II

2. The media’s coverage of Rwanda, 1994

3. Media coverage of Phase 1 (Pre-crisis) and Phase 2 (Genocide)

4. Media coverage of Phase 3 (Refugee Crisis) and Phase 4 (Post-crisis)

Part III

5. The parliamentary response to Rwanda

6. The media and Parliament

7. Conclusion

Appendix: Coding scheme for analysis

Select bibliography

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John Nathaniel Clarke has served with the United Nations in a variety of political, humanitarian and developmental roles. He completed a PhD at Cambridge University (Peterhouse) and held a Post-doctoral fellowship at Yale University.


" of the great things about Clarke’s book: he does open a long line of questions for possible future inquiry. Application of his methodology to news coverage of other humanitarian crises may also yield important results. Such findings could change how the media deals with stereotyping, pressuring governments, and perceptions of objectivity." - Samantha Stevens, Concordia University, in the Journal of Communication 2019

"...a complex and considered study, which adds much to our understanding of media responses to the Rwandan tragedy and should ultimately become an important read for those with an interest in a variety of related fields. ...scholars with an interest in a variety of fields—media and human rights, international relations, British politics—will find this book to be a worthwhile addition to their library." - David Patrick, The International Journal of Press/Politics.

"As Clarke emphasizes in his book, the liberal interventionist ideals of the decade he captures may not have endured; nonetheless, this work illustrates the value of methodological research to challenge the historical narratives they wove.  Such methodologies could be used to challenge other assumptions or examine falsehoods." 

Catherine Bond in African Affairs 2022.