The real dilemma concerns what must be excised from international genocide and mass atrocities agendas in order to produce the kind of lessons learned that are palatable to powerful international actors. When truth telling aligns with the interests of power, it invariably softens its demands. If you bring together people from key international decision-making institutions to discuss a historical event that can only be deemed a colossal failure, the lessons will inevitably be focused on how the different actors did not coordinate their efforts behind a single, guiding ethos or policy. This is invariably true and it evenly distributes blame. It is also invariably true of many international failures, mistakes and faux-pas: it may even describe the “international community” rather than a problem within it.Continue Reading →
Up to 40,000 members of Iraqi minority groups are at severe risk from the advancing forces of the Islamic State (IS or ISIS/ISIL). The most urgent crisis, according to accounts from eyewitnesses, news and humanitarian organizations, is the plight of the Yazidis—a small group that follows an ancient monotheistic religion that includes elements of […]Continue Reading →
This piece was originally published by The New York Times on December 18, 2013.
When France decided to send soldiers to the Central African Republic on Nov. 26, it did the right thing for the wrong reason.
France, the United Nations and the African Union dispatched some 4,000 troops soon after the French foreign […]Continue Reading →
This essay is part two of a series on “The subjects of mass atrocities.” Part one can be found here.
Studying violence under the rubric of genocide offers one contribution above all others: attention to the ways that violence is targeted at and experienced as a group. The term was coined in […]Continue Reading →
Does it matter if the subject of mass atrocities is named as: an ethnic, national, racial or religious group; civilian; population; perpetrator, victim, bystander or rescuer; or something else? These are some of the “names” that are currently in use in the broad field that works on large-scale, systematic atrocities under a range of rubrics: […]Continue Reading →
Not everyone will agree with this presentation of the challenges facing the field or how the field of genocide and atrocity prevention should respond to its challenges. However, the strength of a field is not measured solely by its points of consensus, but also the vibrancy of its debates. This paper attempts to outline both areas of consensus in the field and the knowledge base that informs it, as well as areas of contention. To this end, it aims to be provocative in highlighting debates that are already underway in the field of genocide and atrocity prevention. The questions raised in this paper do not lend themselves to easy answers nor necessarily to consensus, and this may not be desirable. Instead, it is a hope that they contribute to the field’s capacity for self-criticism and reflection, while also challenging it to reach out to other fields to share insights and join forces.Continue Reading →
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