It would be all too easy for the rest of the world to forget the unfinished work in Central Africa. Most countries outside of Africa have trouble identifying crucial strategic or economic interests there. And the Northern public all too easily forgets about the genocide in Rwanda or the upheaval in Congo, formerly Zaire.Skip to next paragraph
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But other countries do have a stake in this region. Its recovery from war, misgovernment, and tragedy - particularly in massive, potentially prosperous Congo - could spur economic progress throughout sub-Saharan Africa. That, in turn, would create benefits in trade and lowered tensions.
But that brighter day is delayed by the difficulty of quelling the ethnic hatreds. To close that ugly chapter, the administration of justice is crucial. The UN Tribunal for Rwanda finally has three trials underway. Many more await. And in this tribunal, unlike that dealing with Bosnia's war crimes, major figures behind the mass killing (of Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus) will be in the dock.
Related to the tribunal's work is the UN effort to investigate the suspected genocidal murder of Hutu refugees who fled across Zaire during the recent fighting there. Congo's government, led by Laurent Kabila, has not been cooperative.
Mr. Kabila may fear that the finger of blame will point at his Rwandan Tutsi allies who helped clear out the old regime in Zaire. But Hutu deaths must be investigated with the same vigor as Tutsi massacres.
The overriding need is to make it clear that mass killings won't be tolerated by the world community.
And benefits from the world community - such as development aid - will be withheld from those who balk at that standard.