Currently viewing the category: "Ending Mass Atrocities"

Whether one engages with the goal of regime change for reasons of civilian protection or anti-authoritarianism, or a goal of maintaining the state in the name of respect for sovereignty and anti-terrorism, or some other form of rationalization, the effect is the same. The regime in Syria is despicable; ISIS is despicable–but there is a difference between removing the state and conceding ground to nihilist insurgents. The choice is not between friends and enemies, but the choice to de-escalate violence and shift opposition to a political (rather than military) plane, or to increase violence. And whatever the goal, it is important to ask at what point does continuing to feed the dynamic of violence become the worst option?

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Hollow Existence

On February 14, 2015 By

What a tangled web did Eritrea weave when the top leaders took us for granted and led us to a conflict that could have been avoided! They squeezed us empty, and then they tried to fill us with small-minded hogwash. Memories of my friends who perished in the war remind me of the sacred hope to which I give refuge in my exiled heart. Tears will not fall on their graves … but I hope tears of joy will be shed in their memory, during the great embrace with their ghosts when we, the living, celebrate the rebirth of our country.

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The work of prevention cannot be adequately conceived as simply pushing a conceptual framework upstream, as it were. Even the basic vocabularies to describe on-going violence may be ill-suited for contexts where violence has not occurred. Worse yet, these vocabularies may obscure the very relationships and social structures that are best suited to protection. Some of the most compelling work on atrocities prevention today begins precisely at this impasse by challenging the assumptions of what factors are relevant to the work of prevention, adding new concepts to the analytical framework, and diversifying the cases that inform the work of atrocity prevention.

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In the late 1800s, Russian playwright Anton Chekhov famously introduced a principle that would later come to be known as “Chekhov’s gun”: “if in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.”[i] Chekhov thereby succinctly illustrated the principle […]

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If it weren’t for the cruel stakes of the violence, U.S. policy in Iraq would form the perfect parody of the idea that militarized response to threats against civilians is a viable policy, let alone that this tactic could be mistaken for a strategy. After all, given the patterns of assaults against civilians in Iraq, the intervention should have come in 2006 – 2007, or even earlier, in March – April 2003, because these are the periods during which the spikes of violence against civilians reached their peak. Of course, the great irony is that no one, least of all anti-atrocity advocates, could have called for U.S. military intervention then. If anyone had wanted to suggest this policy – and no one did — there was one fatal logical flaw: the intervention had already occurred. The only time you can call for intervention is after the U.S. had left; but it would be folly to pretend that just because this little catch in the intervention logic had been resolved that the policy itself would have improved.

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Our partners at Justice Africa have recently published a report of the In-Country Consultations 2013-2014. Below is the executive summary and foreword, by Chair of the Interim Board of the AUHRM, Andreas Ensheté. The full text of the report, as well as individual country consultation reports can be found on Justice Africa’s website. […]

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