Date of Award

Fall 12-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


International Studies

First Advisor

Andrea Molle

Second Advisor

Lynn Horton

Third Advisor

Victoria Carty


Following the genocide in 1994, Rwanda has been touted as a major, international development success, gaining praise and attention from the international community who place the prosperity of the nation in the hands of Paul Kagame, the leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front and the country’s current president. Indeed, under the leadership of Kagame the country was able to get through the horrors of mass killings and nationwide destruction and it is true that the country has made a serious turn around in the past 25 years. However, while the country is acclaimed to be a model for developed democracy in the Global South, my research, amongst a plethora of other scholars, has found that the nation is far from, rather portraying a gilded appeal of democracy while a more authoritarian leadership rules over the country. At the initial start of this research, the goal was to analyze how Kagame’s authoritarianism had so much success developing a nation with little to no democratic freedoms in place, but as the research continued it was discovered that the “development” of the nation is more of a ruse and the nation’s economic and political advancement is dependent solely on maintaining an iron grip on people’s view of the country, information and freedom of speech and thought. Internationally, the nation is heavily funded and dependent on foreign aid, which is funneled to a select oligarchy in the country. Political diversity is, overall, nonexistent and leadership has been accused of manipulating economic statistics to continue the ruse of development. In this work, I aim

to show how the lack of democratic freedoms and the brutal enforcement of authoritarian measures has led to little economic gain in the country, false political inclusivity and diversity, and left the country with essentially the same ethnically controlled system as was before the genocide in 1994. While in the short term, little development has occurred, I argue that in the long term, due to the current operation of the country under Kagame and his iron fisted leadership, sustainable development cannot occur.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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