David Paul Rawson was born September 10, 1941 in Addison, MI. He attended Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, MI and has a Ph.D. from American University in Boston, MA. He married Sandra Miller, with whom he had two children. Rawson served in the U. S. Foregin Service since 1971 as a diplomat. He worked as an assistant to a Zaire desk officer in the Department of State for Rwanda and Burundi (1971-2), then as a political officer in Kigali, Rwanda (1973-5) and Bamako, Mali (1975-8). He was in the chief political section in Dakar, Senegal (1978), then became the Special Assistant for Trade and Development in the Pearson Fellowship Program put on by the Trumbull County Commissioners in Warren, Ohio. Rawson was appointed Deputy chief of Mission for Antananarivo, Madagascar (1983-1985) and for Mogadishu, Somalia (1986-1988). He then became a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs at Princeton University and Director of the Office of West African Affairs for the Department State (1989-1990). He was a Senior Fellow at the Center for Study of Foreign Affairs (1991-1992), before he became an advisor for the Council on Foreign Diplomacy's Executive Exchange Program of Mobil South, Inc. (1993). Rawson became Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Rwanda (Nov. 22, 1993 [arrived Jan. 8, 1994] - Jan. 6, 1996) and Mali (Dec. 19, 1995 [arrived Mar. 1, 1996] - July 26, 1999), and Dept. Chief of Mission in Mogadishu, Somalia (1986-88). Rawson arrived on Kigali Hill in Rwanda as an ambassador to help ensure the establishment of a government and a national assembly as part of the Arusha peace process. Now retired, Rawson is a member of the African Studies Association, Mande Studies Association, Lenawee County Farm Bureau, and American Foreign Service Association.
The Rwandan conflict between two ethnic groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis, dates back most definitively to the colonization of Rwanda, when the one ethnic group (the Tutsis) was selected to rule the country as local leaders under Belgian control. Under Belgian-mandated ID cards, ethnicity became an official identifier, and easy to identify. Hutus eventually rose up against Tutsi power, and drove a huge number of them out of the country, thus taking control of the government. Tutsi refugees underwent hardships and prejudices that drove them to attempt to return to their home country, but Rwandans who remained within Rwandan borders considered them foreigners and did not welcome them. Under the leadership of one man, a group of Tutsi refugees decided to forcibly return home. This created opposing factions, violence escalated, and the opposing factions attempted ethnic cleansing. Believing the matter would settle itself, the UN sent peace delegations, but the fighting continued to escalate, into genocide. At one point it looked as though there would be an agreement, but the Rwandan president's plane was shot down by an unknown party, and all semblance of peace was lost. The body count rose over one million, regardless of age or gender. The UN sent in small peacekeeping forces, but they were not enough. It was only under threat of full-scale UN military action that the genocide was somewhat curttailed, and peace talks again brought to the table in a way that might hold, but the UN struggled to amass the number of troops necessary to quell the chaos that was too much even for the OAU.