Sample International Relations Presentation Critique Paper on Rwandan Genocide

The presentation provided is based on the Rwandan Genocide, that is, its causes, effects, and role of the international community in fueling the genocide. The Rwandan genocide involved the internecine killing of ethnic Tutsis by the Hutus, the majority ethnic community in Rwanda. The Rwandan Genocide sparked off on 6th April 1994 when Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundian colleague, President Cyprien Ntaryamira, were assassinated in Kigali, Rwanda (Power, 2001, p.92). The assassination of the two came at the backdrop of a politically-tense political environment in Rwanda characterized by heated power squabbles between the majority Hutus and the minority Tutsis. Upon confirmation of the death of President Juvenal Habyarimana, the Hutus soldiers and militias started the systematic decimation of the Tutsis living in Kigali before spreading terror throughout Rwanda. The three-month genocide that resulted in the death of more than one million Rwandans ended when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led by Paul Kagame seized control of Kigali on the 4th of July 1994 (Melvern, 2012).The unfolding of the Rwandan genocide exposed the ineffectiveness of international organizations.

The presentation of the Rwandan Genocide is based on the Marxist international relations and economic theory to explain the happenings of the ethnic cleansing that beleaguered Rwanda in 1994. Due to reliance on the Marxist approach, the presentation of the Rwandan Genocide is characterized by the role of imperialism in the internecine killings witnessed in Rwanda. The presentation focuses on the role of imperialist nations such as Belgium and France that financed and armed the Rwandan militants and failed to intervene when thousands lost their lives in the genocide. The Marxist theory also looks at the economic role played by capitalist international finance organizations such as the IMF in immiserating the Rwandans, and therefore, laying a good background for the genocide.

The Marxist international relations and economic theory relied on in the presentation does not bring out the role played by international organizations in the Rwandan genocide. Using a constructivist approach, I will critique the presentation’s holding on the Rwandan genocide. Constructivism in international relations holds that states are not the most important players in the field of international politics and relations but rather international institutions and other non-state bodies (Power, 2001, p.89). Also, the theory holds that lobbying and acts of persuasion by international institutions and bodies is the best method of achieving peace in cases of war, violence, and genocide (Power, 2001, p. 90). The presentation on Genocide in Rwanda does not provide an in-depth analysis of the role played by major international institutions such as the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in the Rwandan genocide. The presentation does not go into details to highlight the indecision that marked the UN’s involvement in Rwanda such as the withdrawal of peacekeeping forces from the nation when they were required most (Toussaint, 2004). The presentation further fails to highlight the glaring ineffectiveness of the OAU in ending the genocide in Rwanda. The presentation also neglects to highlight the massive lack of lobbying by the top executives of the UN in a bid to end the bloodshed in Rwanda. The Marxist-based presentation fails to adequately cover the failings of the international organization during the Rwandan genocide.

Analysis of IR perspective

Globalization has resulted in worldwide reduction in poverty and inequality levels by promoting international wealth generation. Martin Wolf, a neoliberal, contends that poverty and inequality on the world scale have fallen over the past decades for the first time in more than 150 years (Wolf & Wade, 2002, p.16). Wolf also argues that the fall inequality and poverty are largely attributable to the existence of greater global economic integration brought about by globalization (Wolf & Wade, 2002, p.17). Martin Wolf argues that through globalization the global challenges of poverty and inequality have been reduced and therefore globalization is essential in tackling both poverty and inequality which has dodged many developing nations of the world (Wolf & Wade, 2002, p.17). Post-Cold War global security studies and theories of international relations hold poverty and inequality as major threats to global peace and development. According to Ken Booth, the founder of the Emancipation theory of global security studies, economic challenges such as peace and inequality are the contemporary threats to peace that need to be tackled by the international community (Dollar & Kraay, 2002, p.125).  Poverty and inequality are forms of economic subjugation, and thus, are a challenge to emancipation which is the essence of peace (Dollar & Kraay, 2002, p. 125). Booth held dear his concept that there cannot be practical freedom without economic emancipation thus advocating for the eradication of poverty and inequality (Alper & Oktayer, 2019, p.11). Wolf’s argument that globalization is essential in the quest to eradicate inequality and poverty, as well as in the search for global peace and security.

Martin Wolf’s sentiments on the impact of globalization on poverty and inequality can be supported by empirical evidence from the Philippines, Singapore, China, and India. Through globalization, the Philippines, Singapore, India, and China have realized a massive reduction in poverty levels. China and India are two large Asian countries that were initially poor but have witnessed an unprecedented increase in wealth due to the effect of globalization (Milner, 2005, p.837). Through globalization and its effects such as international trade and investment, China, India, and Singapore have recorded a massive increase in their foreign trade and investments resulting in unprecedented wealth generation for the countries (Ravallion, 2018, p.623). The annual per capita growth for these countries accelerated steadily from one percent in the 1960s to an average of five percent in the 1990s (Wolf & Wade, 2002, p.19). The reduction in poverty levels caused by globalization has led to a reduction in inequality in countries such as Singapore and the Philippines that have better domestic education, taxes, and social policies (Wolf & Wade, 2002, p.19).  Reduction in inequality results from globalization and proper social policies that aim at a fair distribution of national resources. India and China lacked proper social policies and experienced increased levels of inequality. This marks a significant contrast in the cases for the Philippines and Singapore that had proper social policies, and thus, recorded a reduction in inequality levels. Data from the above Asian countries supports Wolf’s holdings and arguments.

The Neoliberal theory used by Wolf in discussing the positive impact of globalization on poverty and inequality presents several shortcomings. Using the Marxist international relations and economic theory, I will critique Wolf’s arguments on the relation between globalization, poverty, and inequality. Wolf’s sweeping argument on the impact of globalization on poverty and inequality does not reflect on the imperialist nature of foreign trade relations. International trade, which forms the core of globalization, is marked by unbalanced foreign trade between developing nations and developed imperialist nations (Dollar & Kraay, 2002, p.131). International trade is based on the concept that developing countries cheaply export unfinished goods to the industrialized metropolis in America and Europe, and later, import highly-priced finished products from the capitalist nations (Wolf & Wade, 2002, p.21). This unbalanced basis of trade results in an increased level of inequality between the developed and developing nations. Wolf does not highlight the fact that though there is a marked reduction in the rate of poverty and an increase in wealth generation among developing nations, the rate of wealth generation is much slower than in developed nations. The capitalist model of globalization is skewed to ensure that maximum profit is attained by the industrialized imperialist at the behests of the Third World Countries. High rates of poverty and inequality reduction can only be achieved where developing nations are allowed to fully exploit their national resources without foreign and imperialistic interference and the proceeds utilized in accordance with a socially-defined economic model (Milner, 2005, p.845). Lastly, the neoliberal theory used by Wolf does not analyze the economic reality in most African countries which have been economically subjugated by imperial nations under the guise of globalization.

The Marxist perspective of international relations and economic theory provides the best insight on globalization on the economies of Third World countries. The Marxism theory provides a deeper analysis of globalization and how foreign trade is skewed against developing nations. Moreover, the Marxist perspective also analyses poverty and inequality between the developing nations and the capitalist metropolis of Europe and America. The Neoliberal theory utilized by Wolf in his arguments only provides a domestic analysis of the inequality levels between the rich and poor within a given nation. The domestic analysis of inequality cannot be relied upon to make detailed global conclusions on poverty and inequality. The Marxist theory analyses the impact of globalization better as it exposes the economic exploitation of Third World countries better than neoliberalism.

Semantic Waves and their Application

The concept of semantic waves is essential in the learning process as it enhances cumulative learning and academic success. A semantic wave is a concept that facilitates deep learning by involving the conceptualization, analysis, and comprehension of cumulative knowledge (Maton, 2013, p.10). The semantic wave approach of learning involves moving from an abstract theory to specific examples of the theory in practice. This enables individuals to gain a deeper understanding of the subject or knowledge being learned. Educational experts hold that the knowledge-building concept of semantic wave learning is essential in dealing with knowledge blindness in educational research and contemporary learning (Maton, 2013, p.12). The Semantic wave theory utilizes a top-down approach to learning as a student is introduced to an abstract theory and then provided with specific real-world or empirical examples that explain the abstract theory in detail. The top-down model of the semantic wave learning approach transforms knowledge from decontextualized, condensed meanings into context-dependent, simplified meanings thus enabling cumulative comprehension of concepts (Maton, 2013, p.19). The approach is important in the social sciences field of law and international relations that are based on numerous theories of interpretations. For example, the concept of the semantic wave fits in this assignment as I have to relate and critique abstract theories using analytical data and real-world examples.

In my writing, I have implemented the concept of sematic writing by embracing the top-down model of semantic wave learning. I introduced the paragraph using an abstract theory, which I explain before proceeding to provide real-world examples of the theory in practice. In concluding sentences, I reconnect the provided examples to the theory so as to complete the semantic wave. For example, I have utilized the semantic wave model in the critique of Wolf’s arguments about globalization and its impact on poverty and inequality. I introduced the paragraph by analyzing Wolf’s neoliberal sentiments on the impact of globalization on poverty and inequality. Later, I introduced the critiquing theory, Marxist international relations and economic theory, which I used to challenge Wolf’s arguments. I then provided real-world examples of the Marxist theory such as the unbalanced foreign trade that exists between developing and industrialized capitalist nations. In the concluding sentence, I connected the Marxist theory to the example I provided to show the shortcomings of Wolf’s arguments on globalization, poverty, and inequality.




Alper, B. and Oktayer, A., 2019. Globalization and Poverty: A Panel Evidence from Worldwide Countries. Economic Growth Public Finance & Game Theory, p.11.

Dollar, D. and Kraay, A., 2002. Spreading the wealth. Foreign Aff.81, pp.120-132.

Maton, K., 2013. Making semantic waves: A key to cumulative knowledge-building. Linguistics and education24(1), pp.8-22.

Melvern, L., 2012. Rwanda: At last we know the truth. The Guardian10.

Milner, H.V., 2005. Globalization, development, and international institutions: Normative and positive perspectives. Perspectives on Politics3(4), pp.833-854.

Power, S., 2001. Bystanders to genocide. Atlantic Monthly288(2), pp.84-108.

Ravallion, M., 2018. Inequality and globalization: A review essay. Journal of Economic Literature56(2), pp.620-42.

Toussaint, E., 2004. Rwanda 10 Years on: Uncovering the Financiers of the Genocide. Red Pepper.

Wolf, M. & Wade, R., 2002. Are global poverty and inequality getting worse? Prospect Magazine72, pp.16-21.