Solutions to Violent Conflict

Archive for the ‘Genocide’ Category

Understanding Mass Atrocities

In Genocide, Mass Atrocities on May 17, 2018 at 9:13 am

A Muslim grieving over his son’s grave in Vitez. (UN Photo/John Isaac)

Ernesto Verdeja

This year marks the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 by a world traumatized by the horrors of World War II. And yet, in spite of a long though uneven decline in armed conflict and political violence since then, governments and insurgents continue to terrorize and kill civilians, with massacres, forced deportations, torture and other atrocities committed across the globe. A continuing challenge for policymakers and human rights practitioners is to prevent, and where necessary, respond to mass atrocities. Aided by advances in scholarship, we now have a much better understanding of the primary causes and triggers of mass atrocities. Read the rest of this entry »

Identifying and Stopping Genocide

In Genocide on February 20, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Ernesto Verdeja

Genocide has long been seen as the “crime of crimes” in media and policy circles. Since international law requires its prevention, it is likely that genocide will continue to demand sustained attention.

We know a great deal about the general social and political conditions that lead to genocide, but still face challenges in identifying genocidal practices during periods of mass violence like civil war. The 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (UNCG) established a standard of proof appropriate for prosecutions of individuals. However, current legal standards used to identify genocide as it is happening hinder policymakers from identifying and stopping the complex dynamics that lead to organized mass killing.

The UNCG defines genocide as a variety of violent acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical [sic], racial or religious group, as such.” Intentional group destruction sets genocide apart from war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other mass atrocities, which are assessed according to perpetrator behavior, rather than intent. Intentional destruction – that is, the purposeful destruction of a group, rather than its violent repression – is notoriously difficult to ascertain. Read the rest of this entry »