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The Concept of Genocide Research Paper


Introduction

Mankind has been known for aiming for peaceful existence in the society.However, peace has not been fully achieved as mass killing, and rape and deaths goes unabated.

In recent past, daily media broadcasts were covered with terrible news of genocide going on in Bosnia-Herzegovina, genocide in Rwanda where more than one million people were killed by government forces as well as parliamentary extremists, the mass killings in Burundi, the Indonesian genocide, continuing killings in Southern Sudan, mass killings in Congo and not to mention the hateful epithets as well as actions that took place in Germany, the US and around the world .

Currently, there are genocide that is taking place in Darfur region and the Government of Southern Sudan. In the last decade, more than one five million people have perished as a result of genocidal related actions and policies[1]

The term genocide comes into sight in the early 1940s following the crimes that were committed by the Nazis. Raphael Lemkin derived the word genocide by blending Genos and cide which are words in Greek language to form genocide. Genos is a Greek word which means family whereas cide is a Greek word which means to kill. Lemkin created the term Genocide in his book ‘Axis Rule in Europe’ following the mass killings of innocent people that took place following the Second World War[2]

Although there is a “legal definition” of genocide, which was created by United Nations in 1940s, there are still many controversy about what should be considered as genocide and what should not be.

This controversy exists despite the fact that man has experienced genocide acts and war in particular for many years. According to the legal definition, the tem genocide refers to the act of separating the aboriginal children from their indigenous parents with an aim of breeding out the color.

Lemkin defined genocide to mean a coordinated plan of various actions directed towards destroying the key foundations of the life of national group. In his subsequent article, Raphael Lemkin reiterated and also expanded on his definition of the term genocide by suggesting that, it is an act of destroying or partly crippling a human group. A study which was done by

Ball (2011) suggests that genocide arises from war conditions, tribal conflicts and war colonization[3].

Comparative approach to the study of Genocide

The past decade was characterized by a general increase in interest in the study of genocide. Several studies about genocide now exist. Research papers concerning the discipline are found on major annual conferences such as the International Studies Association. The end of cold war in the mid 1990s was a key factor that enhanced the genocide studies. Secondly, the occurrence of genocidal behaviors in the mid 1990s and early 2000s also made scholars to develop an interest in genocide field.

The prominent genocidal behaviors included the Balkans civil wars, the Rwanda violence and the Darfur law.Finally, the international community became concerned about the massive killings around the world and attention to genocide became a major issue in global politics. For istance, the United Nations, Nongovernmental Organizations and the United States joined hand to form a coalition that was aimed at addressing genocide across the globe[4]

The comparative approach to the study of genocide is a method that is used by political scientists in identifying general causal patterns. The approach allows political scientists to examine genocide in various forms. The approach enables political scientists to examine a given case and thus come up with comparative generalizations about that case. This approach had been applied during the analysis of particular genocide cases in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia[5]

Also, political scientists can use the comparative approach in making within-country comparisons .The political scientists usually focuses on comparing regions or villages in a country. This approach is advantageous as it allows political scientists to hold macro-level and nation’s constant while at the same time, examining the variations across villages and individual[6]

Causes and types of genocide

The following are the major types and causes of genocide; the religion is a major potential factor of propagating genocide actions.Usually, divine mandates have the effect of sanctioning and rationalizing genocidal behaviors. Sacred texts can also be used in propagating genocide[7]

The desire to eliminate rivals has been the root behind many genocidal behaviors across the globe. Groups that are deemed to be inferior by others are discriminated and also utterly disenfranchised. For istance, the victims of Darfur region genocides are mostly the black Africans due to their ethnic affiliations.

The unwanted ethnic groups of all ages are usually killed with a view of eliminating them. The black Africans are usually attacked by the majority Fur, Zaghawa and Massalit.Black Africans are usually attacked in their villages and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.Currently, more than 500,000 deaths have been recorded in the Darfur region.Meanwhile, the Government of Sudan troops have perpetrated genocidal acts by raping, attacking and murdering with impunity the black African rebels[7]

Another factor that causes genocide is the desire to increase wealth. Extreme scarcity of natural resources and massive competition of such is the reason behind many genocidal behaviors across the globe.

Horizontal inequality i.e. a situation where resources and power are distributed in unequal manner between various groups in the society has the effect of causing violent conflicts. For instance, much power and resources might be vested to only one race or religion and so, the other races or religions will act as they feels that they are being discriminated against.

The race or religion that possesses these resources may also engage in violent conflicts as a result of fears to lose them to others.Also, the scarcity of natural resources causes conflict in that, as they gets scarcer, people tends to compete for them and the elite people in the society tends to exercise their powers in retaining them at the expense of citizens.

The citizens in turn protests against the massive loot of state resources by the elites and this makes public order hard to be maintained and hence genocide arises. Genocide behaviors that erupted in the Democratic Republic of Congo under the leadership of Mobutu Sese Seko best illustrates how the desire to gain more wealth can cause killings to innocent citizens. There were various foreign players who were interested in Democratic Republic of Congo’s mineral resources.

Natural resources were illegally exploited by the foreigners and this was seen by local citizens as a violation of DRC’s sovereignty. This interests played a great deal in complicating the peace situation and in turn, conflict arose which saw more than 40 million Congolese people affected. This fighting occurred between the period 1998 and 2004 and more than 4 million people died. Millions sought safe haven in neighboring countries like Uganda and Kenya and others became IDPs[8]

Another factor that causes genocide is the ideological differences. Human beings have distinct personalities that adds richness to their lives.Usually,people seeks out others who possess different personalities from theirs because they admire their unique positive qualities.

However,people fails to understand the fact that these personal attributes are the main reasons that causes conflicts among them. People tend to become intolerant by attributing hostile motives towards others who have different personalities. In other words, people believe that others behave in a different manner as a result of the unfriendly motives that they have towards them. This makes people to develop fear that their interests will be blocked by others and as a result, genocidal actions and behaviors occur.

In many workplaces across the globe, the personality differences are the main reasons that causes conflicts among individuals.Thus, ideology as a factor for explaining genocidal behaviors is not based on the victims’ activities but the perception that the perpetrator has with regards to the victim. Ideology leads to identifying and dehumanizing people.However, not all ideologies leads to dehumanization and identification of a group.

The case of Guatemala was as a result of ideology that identified some group as state enemies. In Costa Rica, the ideology was opposite as it played an important role of promoting unity amongst various groups in the society. Attention should therefore be directed towards identifying the type of ideology that is operated by decision makers in a country that is characterized by gross violations of human rights.

Ideology as a method of perpetrating human rights violations serves to collectively identify a group. This method does not operate effectively on its own as there are other mechanisms that the perpetrators require. Individual leaders and institutions play a greater role as far as identifying a group is concerned. The role of institutions is to instruct individuals to regard others as a threat in society and the individual leaders have the role of instructing and issuing out orders to engage in genocidal behaviors[2]

Aftermath and consequences of genocide

Genocide has the effect of affecting people psychologically. Most casualties of genocide are usually helpless women and children. Genocide therefore causes post traumatic stress on communities. Indeed, it destroys the entire community structure. Issues such as violations of human rights, mass killings, and rape are fruits of genocidal behaviors. Many women are usually raped repeatedly and the survivors are left with reality of loss[10]

They all forms part and parcel of people’s psychological thinking. Genocide has the effect of cross-generating trauma and this is indeed a threat as future genocide can occur.

Genocide usually causes strain on the available social amenities. Service providers usually experience difficulties in meeting the needs of genocide victims across the globe

Ways of preventing genocide

Preventing genocide is usually a complex political activity which requires people to adopt a contingent approach. The truth of the matter is that a situation cannot be regarded as genocide until it explodes or degenerates. People do not know as to whether or not an ethnic warfare or a conflict will give rise to a genocide .Therefore, there are paradoxes and complexities with regards to preventing genocide.

The religious communities should aim at bringing an end to genocides that have already been done in the past by taking concrete and positive steps such as engaging in healing and reconciliation and using sanctuary powers such as prayers e.t.c. in furthering healing. Healing and reconciliation is important as it ensures that both the victims and the perpetrators of genocide actions are brought together[9]

The international community should have the will to end genocide. The executive branch of foreign government should not persist in turning away for the sole reason that genocide is not happening in their own countries.

Instead, the international community should join hands with countries where genocide is the order of the day and take actions of stopping the same. Lobbyists all over the world should elite opinions of stopping genocide. They should protest against genocidal behaviors that occur in distant countries (Totten and Parsons 2008).

Early warning systems should be developed in order to prevent genocide from occurring. The United Nations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) should act to provide early warning systems (Totten and Parsons 2008).

The media should carry out its role effectively .Different media sources should not provide people with conflicting reports regarding the same situation. By providing conflicting reports, the media confuses people. For istance, the Rwanda genocide of 1994 was marked by various conflicting reports from the media. Some reports had indicated that violence had escalated in the country whereas other media reported there was calm in the capital Kigali. However, there were mass killings that were taking place and the absence of such details led to genocide in Rwanda

Finally, it is important for the world to bear in mind that genocides that were experienced in Rwanda, Armenia, Congo, Darfur, Cambodia and others in other parts of the world actually happened and can happen again without any early warning. It is therefore necessary to have a clear understanding of the factors that leads to genocides so as to take preventive measures[6]

Reference List

A Shabas, William. Commentary on Paul Boghossian, “the concept of genocide”. Vol.12, No.1 & 2. (T&F Informa UK Ltd: London, 2010), 91-99.

Abed, Mohammed. Clarifying the Concept of Genocide (London: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2006.

Ball, Howard.Genocide.A reference handbook (ABC-CLIO: New York.2011), 276.

Gerlach, Christian. Extremely Violent Societies: Mass Violence in the Twentieth Century World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 8.

Jacobs, Leonard.Genesis of the concept of Genocide According to Its Author from the Original Sources.Vol.3.No.2 (Springer: Berlin, 2002), 98-103.

Lang, Berel.Response to Paul Boghossian, “the concept of genocide“(T&F Informa UK Ltd: London, 2010), 2010), 69-80.

Makino, Uwe. Final solutions, crimes against mankind: on the genesis and criticism of the concept of genocide (Keith Windschuttle: Paddington, 2003), 1-12.

Migdal, Joel et.al.State power and social forces: domination and transformation in the Third World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 126.

Strozier, Charles and Flynn, Micheal.Genocide, war, and human survival (Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996), 142.

Totten, Samuel and Parsons, William.Century of genocide: critical essays and eyewitness accounts (New York: Taylor & Francis, 2008), 45-78.

Footnotes

  1. William, A Shabas. Commentary on Paul Boghossian, “the concept of genocide”. Vol.12,
  2. Mohammed, Abed. Clarifying the Concept of Genocide (London: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2006.
  3. Howard, Ball. Genocide: A reference handbook (ABC-CLIO: New York.2011), 276.
  4. Christian, Gerlach. Extremely Violent Societies: Mass Violence in the Twentieth Century World (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 2010), 8.
  5. Leonard, Jacobs. Genesis of the concept of Genocide According to Its Author from the Original Sources.Vol.3.No.2(Springer: Berlin, 2002), 98-103.
  6. Berel, Lang. Response to Paul Boghossian, “the concept of genocide“(T&F Informa UK Ltd: London, 2010), 2010), 69-80.
  7. Uwe Makino. Final solutions, crimes against mankind: on the genesis and criticism of the concept of genocide(Keith Windschuttle: Paddington, 2003), 1-12.
  8. Joel, Migdal, et.al. State power and social forces: domination and transformation in the Third World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 126.
  9. Charles, Strozier and Micheal, Flynn. Genocide, war, and human survival (Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996), 142.
  10. Samuel, Totten and William, Parsons. Century of genocide: critical essays and eyewitness accounts (New York: Taylor & Francis, 2008), 45-78.
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