How To Stop Genocide Essay

When the Genocide Convention was passed by the United Nations in 1948, the world said, "Never again."

But the history of the twentieth century instead proved that "never again" became "again and again." The promise the United Nations made was broken, as again and again, genocides and other forms of mass murder killed 170 million people, more than all the international wars of the twentieth century combined.

Why? Why are there still genocides? Why are there genocidal massacres going on right now in southern Sudan by the Sudanese government against Dinka, Nuer, and Nuba; in eastern Burma by the Burmese government against the Karen; in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by both government and rebel forces against Tutsis, Banyamulenge, Hutus, Hema, and Lendu? Why has ethnic and religious hatred again reached the boiling point in Israel and Palestine; C�te d'Ivoire, and Burundi?

There are two reasons why genocide is still committed in the world:

  • The world has not developed the international institutions needed to predict and prevent it.
  • The world's leaders do not have the political will to stop it.

In order to prevent genocide, we must first understand it. We must study and compare genocides and develop a working theory about the genocidal process. There are many Centers for the Study of Genocide that are doing that vital work - in Australia, Brussels, Copenhagen, Jerusalem, Montreal, Memphis, Minneapolis, New Haven, Nottingham, and elsewhere.

But studying genocide is not enough. Our next task should be to create the international institutions and political will to prevent it. Four institutions are needed: centers for early warning, programs for conflict transformation, standing forces for rapid intervention, and international courts for effective punishment.

1. The U.N. Security Council and key governments need strong, independent Early Warning systems to predict where and when ethnic conflict and genocide are going to occur, and to present policy options on prevention and intervention. The Brahimi report made by the special commission on U.N. Peace-keeping makes just such a recommendation, and it should be implemented. Selected country desk officers and top officials of the U.N. system now hold monthly "Framework for Coordination" to discuss current crises, but inadequate staffing prevents long-range strategic planning. There is not a single person at the United Nations whose responsible for genocide early warning and prevention. Who do you call? Ghostbusters.

The International Campaign to End Genocide advocates creation of a Genocide Prevention Focal Point at the United Nations.

It would be most effective in New York in the Secretary General's Office of Policy Planning. The important thing is that it be adequately staffed with full-time genocide early warning specialists with direct access to top U.N. officials.

Meanwhile, NGO's and Genocide Studies Centers should establish our own independent Early Warning networks that can provide daily reports and regular policy options papers. The open secret of the new information age is that policy-makers would get better intelligence if they read the New York Times or London Times daily, the Economist weekly, and used the Internet, than if they counted on their embassies' classified cables. In fact, there are plenty of open source reporting services, including the U.N.'s. But none of them focus on the early warning signs of genocide. Too much information results in confusion and inaction.

I have worked on an open source, unclassified daily reporting service on atrocities and pre-genocidal warning signs for the State Department Office of War Crimes, the U.N., and a few other interested governments. We limited our summaries to twenty five stories per day. But even that was too many and access was only for its subscribers. Genocide Watch hopes to raise the money to create a similar service open to everyone, highly selective in content, disseminated through the list-serve that currently goes to policy makers through The Humanitarian Times. It will become a clearing house for reports from many human rights groups as well as open sources from around the world.

Early Warning models matter. They must be comprehensible to policy makers, and provide specific guidance. The U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs currently has a small contract with a London-based coalition to provide early warning services. The model used is multi-variate and statistical, rather than processual. It gives country scores to a large number of abstract factors ("level of democracy, trade openness, history of armed conflict, ethnic diversity") and then assesses the risk of genocide from their sum. The model is useful to the extent that it demonstrates the benefit of promotion of democracy and other general policies. But statistical models do not describe the intentional process by which political leaders push a society toward genocide. They therefore cannot be used to formulate specific counter-measures at each stage of the genocidal process. What can a policy maker at the U.N. or the State Department do about a history of armed conflict or ethnic diversity?

In 1998, in a paper I presented to the Yale Program on Genocide Studies, I proposed a structural theory of the genocidal process, describing the stages that all genocides I have studied have gone through. As a policy-maker with the U.S. State Department at the time, I was also naturally interested in what steps could be taken at each stage to stop the process. I made a number of practical suggestions about using the institutions the world had available at the end of the twentieth century. I will briefly summarize that paper here and attach a summary as an appendix to this paper. (See THE EIGHT STAGES OF GENOCIDE)

Underlying the social theory of my paper is an image of "ethno-centric man." It seems that because all people grow up and live in particular cultures, speaking particular languages, they identify some people as "us" and others as "them." This fundamental first stage in the process does not necessarily lead to genocide. Genocide only becomes possible with another common human tendency - considering only "our group" as human, and "de-humanizing" the others. We thus not only develop cultural centers. We also create cultural boundaries that shut other groups out, and may become the boundaries where solidarity ends and hatred begins.

We are seeing this phenomenon right now in Jerusalem, Washington, and Baghdad. Jerusalem is a symbolic center for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. It is heavily loaded with religious significance and its control has, through the centuries, become a definitional indicator of cultural identity and domination. It has been the scene of many genocides and ethnic cleansings, including the Biblical deportation of the Jews to Babylon, and later their Diaspora by the Romans, the mass murder of its Islamic inhabitants by Christian Crusaders, and the exclusion of Jews from the Old City and Temple Mount by Muslims. When Israel was created, this volatile combination of religious-centrism and boundary-maintaining exclusion resulted in a U.N. Resolution to "internationalize" the city. If the U.N. had had the strength to enforce the resolution, perhaps it would have been a good idea. But neither the Israelis nor the Arabs ever accepted it. So we have the current situation, which has moved up the scale of stages of the genocidal process to at least stage five - polarization - and possibly to stage six, identification of Arab militant leaders who are being gunned down by snipers with silencers, while Israeli soldiers are captured and lynched by Arab mobs. It is not genocide yet (stage seven), but it is very, very close. If Saddam Hussein, the Hezbollah, and al Queda had their way, genocide - a new Holocaust - would begin.

We can also see the "us versus them" thinking in "axis of evil" ideology. It is bad theology. One of the crucial lessons of sound theology is that the division between good and evil is not vertical, between "us and them." It is horizontal, with every human being having the capacity for both good and evil. The Nazi Holocaust was among the most evil genocides in history. But the Allies' firebombing of Dresden and nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were also war crimes - and as Leo Kuper and Eric Markusen have argued, also acts of genocide. We are all capable of evil and must be restrained by law [I would say, democratic freedom-Rummel] from committing it.

Early Warning is not enough. What if the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution to implement a peace agreement, and sent in peace-keepers, but then genocide began? That is what happened in Rwanda. There was plenty of early warning. The UNAMIR commander, General Rom�o Dallaire learned of the plans for the genocide three months before it began, had conclusive evidence of massive shipments of half a million machetes to arm the killers, and knew of the training camps for the Interahamwe genocidists. Yet when he cabled the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations requesting authorization to confiscate the machete caches, Kofi Annan's deputy Iqbal Riza refused, claiming it exceeded UNAMIR's mandate. Then when the genocide actually began in April, General Dallaire desperately asked for a Chapter Seven mandate and reinforcements to protect the thousands of Tutsis who had taken refuge in churches and stadiums. Led by the U.S., the Security Council instead voted to pull out all 2500 UNAMIR troops. General Dallaire has since said that even those troops could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

2. We must also build institutions to intervene non-violently before genocide begins. Every church, synagogue, mosque, and temple should teach peace-making, and inter-religious leaders' councils should be formed wherever there is religious division. In ethnically divided societies, radio and television and educational systems should be used to advocate tolerance and to humanize the other groups in the society, to show that they are like "us." Programs like Search for Common Ground and the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance program should be taken to every country with the potential for ethnic conflict or genocide.

3. The United Nations needs a standing, volunteer, professional rapid response force that does not depend on member governments' contributions of brigades from their own armies. Articles 43 through 48 of the U.N. Charter already provide for a permanent command structure, which has never been created, and a liberal interpretation of those articles would also permit creation of a standing army. The Standing High Readiness Brigade organized by the Danes, Canadians, Dutch and others is a step in the right direction, though it still depends on national contingents. A standing U.N. force will have to have the support of at least some of the major military powers, must be large enough to effectively intervene in situations like Rwanda, and should be composed of volunteers from around the world, the best of the best, who train together specifically for U.N. peace-keeping. Despite Bush administration opposition to such a U.N. force, when polled, two-thirds of the American people favor its creation. And over eighty percent favor American involvement in a force to stop genocide. It is an idea whose time will come.

4. The world needs and finally has an International Criminal Court. Impunity for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity must end. The ICC must be backed by the will of nations to arrest those it indicts. The ICC may not deter every genocidist, but it will put on warning every future tyrant who believes he can get away with mass murder. In 1999 and 2000, I served as the Coordinator of the Washington Working Group on the International Criminal Court. Despite the position of my own U.S. government, which is still advocating impunity for U.S. officials (a position that would have immunized every tyrant of the last century), the ICC will soon be able to try perpetrators of genocide.

These institutional changes will not be enough to end genocide in the twenty-first century. Eventually we must return to the problem of political will. It was not for want of U.N. peace-keepers in Rwanda that 800,000 people died. They died because of the complete lack of political will by the world's leaders to save them. Indeed, it was their political will to actually withdraw the U.N. peace-keepers and leave them to their murderers. Neither the U.S. nor any other member of the U.N. Security Council had the political will to risk one of their citizens to rescue 800,000 Tutsis from genocide.

There is something profoundly wrong about that. What is wrong is the very same problem of ethno-centrism that I spoke about earlier. We drew a national boundary, a circle that shut them out of our common humanity. In October 2000, the second debate of the candidates for President of the United States demonstrated that neither candidate has learned the lessons of Rwanda. The Washington Post excoriated them both the next day. (Full text of editorial in Appendix 2.) Governor Bush said we needed early warning, but were right not to send in U.S. troops because Africa is not in the sphere of America's national interests. Vice President Gore tried to excuse the Clinton administration's policy failure by saying we had no allies to go in with, as we did in Bosnia; ignoring the fact that 2500 U.N. peace-keepers were already on the ground. Evidently, he dismissed the use of the U.N. as a multi-lateral peace-keeper.

The time has come to reassert our common humanity. Any time someone says it's not in the "national interest" to stop a genocide, ask about the billions we'll spend for relief of refugees, the hundreds of thousands who will flee to our shores, and more importantly the shame we should feel as human beings to see mass murder before our eyes, but walk by on the other side. When you get a form at immigration or at a job application that asks you your race, what do you write? I simply write, "Human." Because that's the truth. We are all of the same race.

How can we create a consciousness of our common humanity? We must create a world-wide movement to end genocide, like the movement to abolish slavery in the nineteenth century. The International Campaign to End Genocide, organized at the Hague Appeal for Peace in May 1999, intends to mobilize the international political will to end genocide. (For a more complete description of the Campaign, see Appendix 3, below.)

The first job in preventing and stopping genocide is getting the facts in clear, indisputable form to policy makers. Some of that job is done by the news media. But conveying the information is not enough. It must be interpreted so that policy makers understand that genocidal massacres are systematic; that the portents of genocide are as compelling as warnings of a hurricane. Then options for action must be suggested to those who make policy, and they must be lobbied to take action.

Policy makers act when they feel public pressure to act. If the international campaign is to be effective it must build an international mass movement that will exert the political and cultural pressure on world leaders necessary to create political will.

I remember when segregation was still the law in the southern United States and when apartheid ruled South Africa. When I was a civil rights worker in Mississippi in 1966, the Ku Klux Klan followed us and shot into the house where our group stayed, and two of my friends were wounded. It is still the most dangerous place I have ever worked, including Cambodia and Rwanda. But in both the U.S. and South Africa, mass movements created the political will to change the laws and are gradually changing the cultures.

Mass movements must mobilize the moral and religious leaders, the celebrities and stars, the churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples. We must make indifference to genocide culturally unacceptable and politically impossible. We must educate and advocate, demonstrate and legislate.

Just as the nineteenth century was the century of the movement to abolish slavery, let us make the twenty-first the century when we abolish genocide. Genocide, like slavery, is caused by human will. Human will - including our will - can end it.

(c)2003 Gregory H. Stanton

[For Appendix 1, see THE EIGHT STAGES OF GENOCIDE]

APPENDIX 2
The Lesson of Rwanda

The Washington Post
Friday , October 13, 2000 ; Page A38

Over the course of 13 weeks in 1994, at least a half-million people were massacred in Rwanda's genocide. It was a drawn-out, low-tech butchery, much of it perpetrated with knives and machetes, and the killers often interrupted their work to rape and torture their victims. A small outside force--perhaps as few as 5,000 soldiers--could have stopped the slaughter in its early stages. Thefailure of the United States and other powers to act is one of the most shocking episodes of the past decade. But when Rwanda came up during Wednesday's presidential debate, neither candidate seemed to have grasped even its most basic lessons.

Gov. George W. Bush got the first chance to reflect upon Rwanda. He declared that the Clinton administration was right not to send U.S. troops to stop the killing,and that in the future there should be early warning systems in places where genocide might happen. An aspiring president ought to know that,

in the case of Rwanda, there was no lack of early warning. Beginning in January 1994, three months before the genocide started, the Canadian general in charge of the U.N. contingent in Rwanda sent five cables to U.N. headquarters in New York warning that a bloodbath was brewing and begging for reinforcements.

In February Belgium pressed the same case at the United Nations too. All the major powers, including the United States, were well aware of these warnings. They ignored them.

Next, Vice President Al Gore commented. He said, rightly, that "in retrospect we were too late getting in there. We would have saved more lives if we had acted earlier." But Mr. Gore also sought to imply that the administration had not failed completely to act: "We did actually send troops into Rwanda to help with the humanitarian relief measures." But U.S. troops did not arrive in Rwanda until July, after the killing was finished. Mr. Gore also said the United States was right not to have "put our troops in to try to separate the parties." But that was not what a Rwanda intervention need have entailed. In much of the country, the genocide did not involve two armed bands fighting pitched battles. It involved thugs killing unarmed civilians.

Mr. Gore went on to say, "In the Balkans, we had allies, NATO, ready, willing and able to go and carry a big part of the burden. In Africa, we did not." This is not true either. In Rwanda, the United States could have built on help from the United Nations, which had a force of 2,800--before it was cut back in April, partly at American urging. In May, after the massacre had begun, the United Nations assembled an African force to go to Rwanda, and asked the United States to supply 50 armored vehicles. But the United States failed to deliver these for weeks, arguing over who would provide spare parts and maintenance.

The few U.N. troops who remained in Rwanda saved about 30,000 lives simply by stationing small groups of soldiers outside a stadium, a hotel and a few other places where Tutsis were taking shelter. It did not take much to turn back the machete-wielding youth. It would not have taken much, U.N. commanders believed, to have saved many thousands more.

It is bad enough that Mr. Gore, who claimed to espouse a foreign policy based on values, half-defends a failure for which even President Clinton has apologized. It is worse that Mr. Bush does not even see a policy failure in the way America allowed the genocide to unfold. The Texas governor said his foreign policy would be based on national interest alone; he further suggested that events in sub-Saharan Africa seemed to him remote from U.S. interests. But it is not in the national interest for America to lose its ability to lead; and that is what will happen if this nation's leaders see no urgency in preventing a preventable genocide.

(c) 2000 The Washington Post

APPENDIX 3
THE INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO END GENOCIDE

1.5 million Armenians. 3 million Ukrainians. 6 million Jews. 250,000 Gypsies. 6 million Slavs. 25 million Russians. 25 million Chinese. 1 million Ibos. 1.5 million Bengalis. 200,000 Guatemalans. 1.7 million Cambodians. 500,000 Indonesians. 200,000 East Timorese. 250,000 Burundians. 500,000 Ugandans. 2 million Sudanese. 800,000 Rwandans. 2 million North Koreans. 10,000 Kosovars. Genocides and other mass murders killed more people in the twentieth century than all the wars combined.

"Never again" has turned into "Again and again." Again and again, the response to genocide has been too little and too late.

During the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust, the world's response was denial. In 1994, while 800,000 Tutsis died in Rwanda, State Department lawyers debated whether it was "genocide", and the U.N. Security Council withdrew U.N. peacekeeping troops who could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

Genocide is the world's worst intentional human rights problem. But it is different from other problems and requires different solutions. Because genocide is almost always carried out by a country's own military and police forces, the usual national forces of law and order cannot stop it. International intervention is usually required. But because the world lacks an international rapid response force, and because the United Nations has so far been either paralyzed or unwilling to act, genocide has gone unchecked.

The International Campaign to End Genocide is an international coalition dedicated to creating the international institutions and the political will to end genocide forever.

The International Campaign to End Genocide has four goals:

1.The provision of public information on the nature of genocide and creation of the political will to prevent and end it.

2.The creation of an effective early-warning system to alert the world and especially the U.N. Security Council, NATO and other regional alliances to potential ethnic conflict and genocide.

3.The establishment of a powerful United Nations rapid response force in accordance with Articles 43-47 of the U.N. Charter, as well as regional rapid response forces, and international police ready to be sent to areas where genocide threatens or has begun.

4.Effective arrest, trial, and punishment of those who commit genocide, including the early and effective functioning of the International Criminal Court, the use of national courts with universal jurisdiction, and the creation of special international tribunals to prosecute perpetrators of genocide.

This Campaign is an international, de-centralized, global effort of many organizations. In addition to its work for institutional reform of the United Nations, it is a coalition that brings pressure upon governments that can act on early warnings of genocide through the U.N. Security Council. The Campaign has its own NGO early warning system and its own websites: www.genocidewatch.org, www.preventgenocide.org. Bypassing the secrecy of government intelligence services, the Campaign has created an early warning network to provide confidential communication links that allow relief and health workers, whistle-blowers, and ordinary citizens to create an alternative intelligence network that will warn of ethnic conflict before it turns into genocide.

The International Campaign to End Genocide covers genocide as it is defined in the Genocide Convention: "the intentional destruction, in whole or in part, of a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such." It also covers political mass murder, ethnic cleansing, and other genocide-like crimes against humanity. It will not get bogged down in legal debates during mass killing.

Building the political will for action is the major task. Among the defense mechanisms used to justify non-action is denial of the facts. So the first job in preventing and stopping genocide is getting the facts in clear, indisputable form to policy makers. Most of that job is done by CNN and the news media. But conveying the information is not enough. It must be interpreted so that policy makers understand that genocidal massacres are systematic, or that the portents of genocide are as compelling as warnings of a hurricane. Then options for action must be suggested to those who make policy, and they must be lobbied to take action.

The International Campaign to End Genocide works to create political will through:

  • Consciousness raising -- maintaining close contact with key policy makers in governments of U.N. Security Council members, providing them with information about genocidal situations.
  • Coalition formation --working in coalitions to respond to specific genocidal situations and involving members in campaigns to educate the public and political leaders about solutions.
  • Policy advocacy -- preparing options papers for action to prevent genocide in specific situations, and presenting them to policy makers.
The International Campaign to End Genocide concentrates on predicting, preventing, stopping, and punishing genocide and other forms of mass murder. It brings an analytical understanding of the genocidal process to specific situations. It does not simply study genocide or hold conferences, but attempts to prevent genocide, and build institutions that can end genocide forever.

The International Campaign's headquarters location near Washington, D.C. permits it to influence U.S. foreign policy, a key to forceful humanitarian intervention when genocide threatens. But it also has key organizational members in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Israel, and other countries. It is an international effort that will work with governments of U.N. Security Council members to create the political will for United Nations, rather than unilateral intervention.

Members of the International Campaign include Genocide Watch, The Leo Kuper Foundation (UK), Physicians for Human Rights (UK), Prevent Genocide International (USA), International Alert, The Genocide Studies Program of Yale University, the Cambodian Genocide Project, Inc., The Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide (Israel), The Committee for Effective International Criminal Law (Germany), the Aegis Trust (UK), the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global Mission, Survivors' Rights International (USA), Pr�vention G�nocides (Belgium), CALDH (Guatemala), INFORCE (UK), and The Remembering Rwanda Trust (Canada), INDICT (UK), Never Again (UK, Canada, US, Rwanda), TRIAL (Switzerland), and the Plowshares Institute (US, South Africa). Membership is free and welcomed from all groups and individuals that subscribe to the Campaign's goals.

The International Campaign's coordinator is Genocide Watch, Post Office Box 809, Washington, D.C. 20044. Telephone: 703-448-0222. FAX: 703-448-6665. e-mail: info@genocidewatch.org website: www.genocidewatch.org


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“The world agrees that genocide is unacceptable and yet genocide and mass killings continue. We have a duty to find the answer before the vow of ‘never again’ is once again betrayed.”[1]

At the end of the Cold War, scholars, politicians and historians alike were cautiously optimistic of the emergence of a ‘new world order’; where the stalemate of the Cold War was over, and the United Nations could reinvigorate and fully uphold its commitment of promoting international peace and security.[2] However, despite the calls for ‘never again’ after the Holocaust, the 1990s saw a litany of vicious civil wars[3] including two genocides in two different continents, whereby the United Nations was powerless to respond and stop the killing, despite troops already being on the ground.[4] Nevertheless, it does not have to be this way; “nothing about this pathetic process of international failure is inevitable”.[5] This was witnessed through a number of pioneering movements which sought to put genocide prevention on the international agenda as a priority post-Rwanda and Srebrenica.[6]

This essay will examine the key advancements the international community[7] has made in the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities, and what challenges these efforts face. Furthermore, this essay will examine the evolving norm[8] of humanitarian intervention, arguing that the lack of political will in the international community hinders the efficacy of this norm. In particular, this essay will argue that there have been significant advancements made in the international community since the failures in Rwanda and Srebrenica;[9] however there is a tendency to focus on intervention and response, rather than prevention.[10] This essay will focus on three key advancements made; two within the international community more broadly, and one initiative undertaken by the United States: the Responsibility to Protect (hereafter R2P) principle; the ‘protection of civilians’ agenda; and the Mass Atrocity Response Operations (MARO) project, respectively. First, this essay will examine the dialogue within the international community post-1994, with particular reference to genocide-prevention, and then examine the three key developments in the international community in relation to the notion of an ‘evolving norm’ of humanitarian intervention.[11] The lack of political will in the international community to prevent and respond to genocide is the main challenge facing effective prevention efforts. It is this lack of will that further hinders the evolution of a norm of humanitarian intervention which will be the key focus of this essay.

In the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, there was increased dialogue on the prevention of genocide in the international community, with a shifting focus between genocide prevention and intervention.[12] Despite the calls for ‘never again’ after the Holocaust, there has been a fluctuation in interest by the international community surrounding the prevention of genocide, and this has never been more evident than in post-1994 dialogue.[13] The need to prevent genocide and punish the perpetrators has been a key focus of international law since the creation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide in 1948,[14] which defined genocide as a crime under international law.[15] However, despite the Convention outlawing genocide, there has been a lack of political will to both prevent and persecute the perpetrators of genocide.[16] Furthermore, the international penal tribunal that the Convention envisaged in Article VI was not established until 1 July 2002 by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which founded the International Criminal Court.[17] By the 1990s, there was significant international pressure to pursue individual accountability for mass atrocity crimes; this led to the creation of two ad hoc tribunals in 1993 and 1994 to try war criminals in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, and Rwanda, (ICTY, ICTR) respectively.[18] While international criminal law does not implicate state responsibility for the crime,[19] it is another source of protection for victims and places a responsibility on states to hold perpetrators accountable. Despite criticisms, the Tribunals have been relatively successful; however the Tribunals show both the willingness of the international community to prosecute war criminals, yet also highlights the focus on punishment, rather than prevention of genocide.[20] This demonstrates the lack of political will in the international community in promoting the prevention of genocide, however, despite this, there have been significant advancements made, both at an international level and by initiatives taken by individual states that have had multi-faceted approaches to both the prevention of, and response to intermittent genocides. Perhaps the most landmark of the achievements on the part of the international community is the Responsibility to Protect principle.

The Responsibility to Protect principle[21] is a set of moral guidelines for all states that posits sovereignty as a responsibility, rather than a privilege.[22] Perhaps a key lesson from Srebrenica and Rwanda is that we need a compulsory legal framework for action – “a framework that would trigger not just a political or moral responsibility to act, but a legal one that carries legal consequences.”[23]  In light of the failures to protect civilians against mass atrocity crimes, including genocide, in Rwanda, the Canadian government established the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) in September 2000, who released their landmark report, The Responsibility to Protect, in December 2001.[24] The Report, which created the foundations for sovereignty as responsibility, asserted that the international community has a responsibility to prevent mass atrocities, through a variety of measures. This included the use of political, social and economic tools to respond to crises, with military intervention as a last resort, and placed an emphasis upon the need for post-conflict reconstruction, particularly through security and justice to the victim population/s. The Report advocates a structural prevention framework in order to understand the root causes of mass atrocity crimes, and encourages member states to adopt a similar framework. The Report was the introduction of R2P into international dialogue; however the Outcome Document of the 2005 World Summit was the most comprehensive inclusion of R2P in the international community thus far. Paragraphs 138 and 139 provided the scope of R2P, which outlined the crimes included under R2P (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing) and where the responsibilities lie for the prevention of, and response to these crimes. The Outcome Document outlines the three ‘pillars’ of R2P:

  1. A State has a responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing (under the umbrella of ‘mass atrocities’).

  2. If the State is unable to protect its population on its own, the international community has a responsibility to assist the state by building its capacity. This can mean building early-warning capabilities, mediating conflicts between political parties, strengthening the security sector, mobilizing standby forces, and many other actions.

  3. If a State is manifestly failing to protect its citizens from mass atrocities and peaceful measures are not working, the international community has the responsibility to intervene at first diplomatically, then more coercively, and as a last resort, with military force. [25]

Secretary-General Ban has made a commitment to ‘operationalise’[26] the R2P and translate the principle from ‘words to deeds’.[27]  He indicated that his support for what he describes as the ‘concept’ of the R2P is ‘deep and enduring’ but recognised that it is not yet a policy or reality. Despite this, the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect, Edward Luck, argues that the R2P “represents the application of human security perspectives to a specific area of public policy that has long vexed publics and policymakers alike.”[28] In his 2009 report Secretary General Ban underscored that the provisions of paragraphs 138 and 139 of the Summit Outcome are “firmly anchored in well-established principles of international law. Under conventional and customary international law, States have obligations to prevent and punish genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.”[29] Furthermore, R2P has become more than just a concept; the fact that it was unanimously included in the Outcome Document of 2005 legitimises the claim of R2P as a norm, and its ambitions to become enshrined in international law.[30] Despite the condition of the use of force as a last resort, the critics of R2P have argued that it promotes humanitarian intervention, and, since the intervention in Libya in 2011, regime change.[31] Furthermore, there is a tendency to focus on ‘pillar three’ of R2P; this raises the argument surrounding whether there is an ‘evolving norm’ of humanitarian intervention, and begs the question of how to intervene, rather than just when.

Particularly in the post-Cold War era, civilians are increasingly becoming the key target in armed conflicts, as evidenced through the various instances of mass atrocities in the 1990s and 2000s, from Liberia to Kosovo to Iraq. This targeting of civilians has led to a renewed interest in the protection of civilians in armed conflict, and increasingly in instances of mass atrocities such as genocide. This has caused scholars and policymakers alike to support the creation of the Protection of Civilians agenda (PoC). The agenda is based within the universal principles of international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law. The agenda is aimed at all actors, from international organisations, states and individuals, with the aim of advancing the legal and physical protection of civilians in the context of armed conflict. Whilst this is not specifically a form of genocide prevention, it highlights the need for an increased focus on the protection of civilians, whom are generally the targeted population in instances of mass atrocity crimes.

Of particular interest is the Security Council’s focus on civilian protection, which was triggered in 1998 when then Secretary-General Kofi Annan identified the protection of civilians as a ‘humanitarian imperative’.[32] The PoC agenda plays an important role in the broader genocide prevention effort, as it illustrates the willingness of the international community to adhere to international humanitarian law and norms surrounding civilian protection.[33] Furthermore, the PoC agenda illustrates the focus of the international community on intervention, rather than prevention, and a willingness of the interveners to ensure their conduct is in line with international humanitarian law.[34]

Conceptually, the principles of R2P and the PoC agenda are intrinsically linked, but operationally distinct. Essentially, R2P is:

“a political framework for preventing mass atrocities and protecting civilians in the most egregious cases of abuse…the whole [protection of civilians] agenda is wider than R2P because it applies to armed conflict in general”.[35]

In terms of the protection of civilians agenda being employed as a preventive tool, the key challenge is to “identify which [civilian protection] strategies of policies contribute to prevention escalation to genocide and mass atrocities, or constitute an effective response to their commission.”[36] In terms of the operational aspects of these two agendas, R2P has recently manifested in an initiative undertaken by the United States; the MARO Project.

At the start of 2007, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard and the US Army’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institution formed a partnership aimed at making a substantial contribution to a world without genocide. The Mass Atrocity Response Operations Handbook, or MARO, was the result of this partnership. The goals of the project were salient and simple: to bypass the discussion surrounding ‘whether’ to intervene, to the ‘how’ to intervene, in instances of mass atrocities.

An annotated planning framework (APF) was established, with the flexibility to be used as a template that can be altered to fit the needs of a specific region. The APF has a focus on prevention, intervention and post-conflict reconstruction, and seeks to aid the United Nations with the goal of developing a capacity to prevent mass atrocities, rather than just reacting when they occur. Furthermore, the way the APF is conceptualised, it can be adopted by the African Union to create mass atrocity prevention capabilities designed by Africans, for Africans. The APF, combined with the two scenarios the Project completed to test the structures of the framework and illustrate the course of action development, and the Project helps answer the questions: ‘what do we want to do?’ and ‘how are we going to do it?’

The planning framework of MARO is directed not just at the United States Armed Forces, but also policy-makers, ambassadors, UN officials, representatives from non-governmental organisations and other members of civil society. It is intended to provide a guideline of ‘watch-decide-act’, which can help decision-makers from any organisation or state evaluate information and share assessments of potential mass atrocities, and use a common lexicon and analytical framework to make coordinated decisions regarding the actions necessary to prevent or respond to mass atrocities. This inter-agency communication and cooperation is historically difficult; however, a complex mission such as intervention cannot succeed without it. MARO seeks to ‘bridge this gap’ between governments, the UN and members of civil society, through facilitating the dialogue, sharing information and coordinating a response. As Michael Pryce (formerly the Project Director for MARO) argues, “reaction, rather than coordination is typically the result when an intervention is improvised following a hasty decision to intervene in a mass atrocity in progress”.[37]

The MARO Project employs Gregory Stanton’s ‘Eight Stages of Genocide’ as a guideline for a state’s descent towards mass atrocities.[38] Whilst these stages do not always occur in a set order, they are a good starting point for placing “known events within a reasonably predictable framework”.[39] The Project focuses on both prevention and intervention, however it is noted that political will is essential and must be driven by moral imperative to be successful, whether it be preventive diplomacy or a military intervention. Furthermore, it draws upon the necessity of political will to achieve the objectives laid out in the Handbook; without the necessary will, the development of a military force specifically trained, equipped and organised to conduct such a mission cannot be seen as a credible threat in terms of military intervention. If the necessary political will is established, a military response that is armed and ready to deploy could become the ‘teeth’ for effective preventive diplomacy.

The intention of the Project is to emphasise the inherently related nature of moral imperatives, political will and capabilities in terms of its balance within the context of preventive diplomacy. As has been evidenced in previous failures by the international community to respond timely to mass atrocities, assertive prevention becomes the common link between a range of actors, becoming the overarching policy that focuses on the broadest possible front to exert diplomatic pressure. If this preventive diplomacy fails, MARO advocates for military intervention as the last resort, if the political will and capabilities are met.

Finally, the Project focuses on what to do once the killing has stopped. Without a comprehensive plan compiled prior to the end of the conflict, the risk of post-intervention, post-atrocity problems undermining the entire efforts expands exponentially. The MARO Project seeks to address these problems in a timely manner, rather than in a post-atrocity, post intervention environment that “leaves little time for reflective thinking and detailed planning”.[40]

The MARO Project represents a significant milestone in atrocity-prevention efforts, and for the Responsibility to Protect principle. It adopts a three-pillared approach with similar goals of R2P, with a focus not only on response, but also prevention and post-conflict reconstruction/rebuilding. The Handbook produced is the first of its kind; military doctrine for atrocity-prevention, particularly under the guises of R2P did not formerly exist. This effort should be applauded by the international community and other nation states should seek to adopt their own form of guidelines for atrocity prevention, response and reconstruction. The outcome of the MARO Project has led to renewed debates surrounding this ‘evolving norm’ of humanitarian intervention, perceived or otherwise.

When examining to what extent there is an evolving norm of humanitarian intervention, it is necessary to view it within the broader normative context in the international system. In this sense, it becomes clear that shifts in the normative aspect of humanitarian intervention are only one “manifestation of the changes in a larger set of humanitarian norms that have become more visible and more powerful in the past fifty or one hundred years”.[41] States conform to international norms in order to legitimise themselves to the international community. This leads to a tension between accepting norms that are ‘against their perceived national interest’ and maintaining legitimacy at the international level.[42] States that seek to maintain legitimacy within the international sphere may be pushed to act in ways which self-interest would determine otherwise; this demonstrates the influence of power on the state. Whilst this power may not be materially coercive, it influences the ways in which the international system is constructed, understood, and through the deployment of it, may change the state itself. These factors combined lead state actors who would otherwise reject certain norms to a conundrum between doing what they want based on self-interest and what they must to maintain legitimacy.[43]  This is particularly important when examining humanitarian intervention; the role of political will is crucial in the mandating of an intervention, especially one that involves the use of military force. Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General has explicitly recognised a ‘developing international norm in favour of intervention to protect civilians from wholesale slaughter’, for which he argued that there was nothing in the UN Charter that ‘precludes a recognition that there are rights beyond borders’. Furthermore, he called for the Security Council to collectively assert itself ‘where the cause is just and the means available’.[44] This further demonstrates the willingness of certain actors in the international system to forcibly intervene in instances of genocide, using intervention as a focus for genocide-prevention efforts. Annan’s plea to the Security Council further echoes the issue of dwindling political will, despite a willingness to prevent mass atrocities.

In terms of upholding a duty to protect, including a duty to intervene, the absence of appropriate measures to penalise those who fail in their duty, “political agendas and dysfunctional self-interest will prevail”.[45] This demonstrates the lack of political will within the international community to uphold a duty, or responsibility, to protect vulnerable peoples from genocide. As has been noted, genocide-prevention efforts since 1994 have tended to fluctuate between narratives of prevention and intervention, with a specific focus on the latter. In light of the failures to stop genocide in Rwanda and Srebrenica, the international community has made significant advancements in the prevention of genocide. These advancements, however, do not carry enough political weight to deter perpetrators from committing genocide. This lack of political will leads to a failure to protect vulnerable populations from genocide. The past decade has shown that there is an evolving norm of humanitarian intervention, however carries the same implication as the overall genocide-prevention efforts.

Bibliography

Akhavan, P., ‘Enforcement of the Genocide Convention: A Challenge to Civilization’, Harvard Human Rights Journal (1995)

Albright, Madelaine K. & William S. Cohen, “Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for U.S. Policymakers”, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2008

Annan, Kofi. Address to the United Nations General Assembly, New York, 20 Sept. 1999, reproduced in United Nations, ‘Secretary-General presents his annual report to General Assembly’, Press release SG/SM/7136, GA/95920, 20 Sept. 1999

Arbour, Louise, ‘Preventing Mass Atrocities’, transcript from lecture at the Council on Foreign Relations, 12 June 2007, Available at http://cfr.org/publication/13580/preventing_mass_atrocities_rush_transcript_federal_news_service.html?breadcrumb=%2Fmedia%2Ftranscripts, accessed 1 October, 2011

Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Protection of Civilians and the Responsibility to Protect: Perspectives and Precedents in the Asia-Pacific, Program on the Protection of Civilians, Working Paper No. 2, 2010

Badescu, Cristina G. and Thomas G. Weiss, ‘Misrepresenting R2P and Advancing Norms: An Alternative Spiral?’, International Studies Perspectives 11(4), 2010

Bellamy, Alex J., Responsibility to Protect: The Global Effort to End Mass Atrocities, Cambridge: Polity, 2009

Bush, George H. W., Address to the Nation on the Invasion of Iraq (January 16, 1991)

Campbell, Kenneth J., Genocide and the Global Village, New York: Palgrave, 2001

Charny, Israel W., ‘Genocide Intervention and Prevention’. Social Education 55(2), 1991

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Chesterman, Simon, Just War or Just Peace: Humanitarian Intervention and International Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001

Darcy, James, ‘‘Human Rights and Humanitarian Action: A Review of the Issues,’’ background paper prepared for Human Rights and Humanitarian Action—Humanitarian Policy Group Background Paper (UNICEF Workshop, Geneva, 1–17 April 2004)

Dunne, Tim, The Diplomacy of Responsibility, (forthcoming 2012)

Evans, Gareth and Mohamed Sahnoun, The Responsibility To Protect: Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 2001

Evans, G., The Responsibility to Protect: End Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All, Washington D.C.: Brookings Institute, 2008

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Gurr, Ted Robert, Peoples Versus States: Minorities at Risk in the New Century, Washington: United States Institute of Peace, 2000

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[1] Madelaine K. Albright & William S. Cohen, “Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for U.S. Policymakers”, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2008

[2] George H. W. Bush, Address to the Nation on the Invasion of Iraq (January 16, 1991); Bill Clinton, “A New Covenant for American Security” (speech at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., December 12 1991); Tony Smith, America’s Mission: The United States and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy in the Twentieth Century, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009)

[3] Ted Robert Gurr, Peoples Versus States: Minorities at Risk in the New Century, (Washington: United States Institute of Peace, 2000)

[4] Linda Melvern, A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide, (London: Zed Books, 2000)

[5] Kenneth J. Campbell, Genocide and the Global Village, (New York: Palgrave, 2001) p. 109

[6] Peter Uvin, ‘Difficult choices in the new post-conflict agenda: the international community in Rwanda after the genocide’, Third World Quarterly, 2001, 22:2, pp.178aa

[7] When the term ‘international community’ is used, it will be referring explicitly to the United Nations

[8] A norm in international relations can be described as “collective expectations for the proper behaviour of actors with a given identity” Katzenstein 1996. ‘Introduction: Alternative Perspectives on National Security’, in The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics. P.Katzenstein, ed. New York: Columbia University Press.  pp. 5

[9] Christian P. Scherrer, Preventing Genocide. (Berlin: Venlo, 2001)

[10] Israel W. Charny 1991. ‘Genocide Intervention and Prevention’. Social Education 55(2): 124.

[11] Brian D. Lepard, Rethinking Humanitarian Intervention (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002), p 375.

[12] J.L. Holzgrefe, ‘‘The Context for Humanitarian Intervention,’’ in Humanitarian Intervention: Ethical, Legal and Political Dilemmas, ed. J.L. Holzgrefe and Robert O. Keohane, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). p.15

[13] David Scheffer, ‘‘Lessons from the Rwandan Genocide,’’ Georgetown Journal of International Affairs (2004)

[14] UN General Assembly, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 9 December 1948, U.N.T.S. 78

[15] Article 2 of the Convention defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group; Article 3 posits that genocide, conspiracy to genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide and complicity in genocide are all crimes punishable under the Convention.  UN General Assembly, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 9 December 1948, U.N.T.S. 78

[16] P. Akhavan, ‘Enforcement of the Genocide Convention: A Challenge to Civilization’, 8 Harvard Human Rights Journal (1995), p.252

[17] Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 17 July, 1998, 2187 U.N.T.S. 90 [entered into force on 1 July 2002]

[18] Paola Gaeta, The UN Genocide Convention: A Commentary, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) p.12

[19] International criminal law seeks to hold individuals accountable for the crimes committed, rather than the state.

[20] Judgment, Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)), 26 February 2007, ICJ Reports (2007) §165; 166-79

[21] It is necessary to note that whilst most refer to R2P as a doctrine or concept, this essay will use ‘principle’ as it better reflects the unanimous endorsement of R2P by world leaders at the World Summit.

[22] An examination of the approaches of the International Criminal Court (in terms of the Rome Statute) and the Responsibility to Protect (as outlined in the World Summit Outcome Document) show a similarity in that both focus explicitly on the primary responsibility of the state to punish perpetrators or protect its people and giving the international community an active (rather than merely supportive) role in these matters only if the relevant state is ‘unable or unwilling’ (in the case of the ICC, Article 17) or there is a ‘manifest failure’ (regarding the Responsibility to Protect, paragraph 139 of the World Summit Outcome Document)

[23] Louise Arbour, ‘Preventing Mass Atrocities’, transcript from lecture at the Council on Foreign Relations, 12 June 2007, p.12. Available at http://cfr.org/publication/13580/preventing_mass_atrocities_rush_transcript_federal_news_service.html?breadcrumb=%2Fmedia%2Ftranscripts, accessed 1 October, 2011

[24] Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, The Responsibility to Protect (Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 2001)

[25] United Nations General Assembly, ‘2005 Summit Outcome’, A/60/L.1, 20 September 2005, paras 138-9

[26] Report of the Secretary-General, ‘Implementing  the Responsibility to Protect’, A/63/677, 12 January 2009

[27] Ban Ki Moon, Address to the Parliament of Rwanda, speech in Kigali, Rwanda, 29 January 2008

[28] Edward C. Luck, ‘The United Nations and the Responsibility to Protect’, Stanley Foundation Policy

Analysis Brief, August 2008, p.5

[29] Ban Ki-Moon, Implementing the Responsibility to Protect, A/63/677, 12 January 2009, para. 3.

[30] For more detail on how the World Summit consensus moved the debate forward and what it left

behind, see: Alex J. Bellamy, Responsibility to Protect: The Global Effort to End Mass Atrocities,

(Cambridge: Polity, 2009), 66-97; Gareth Evans, The Responsibility to Protect: End Mass Atrocity

Crimes Once and for All, (Washington D.C. : Brookings Institute, 2008)

[31] For a critique of the claims that R2P represents regime change, seeTim Dunne, The Diplomacy of Responsibility, (forthcoming 2012)

[32] S/1998/318, 13 April 1998

[33] Hugo Slim, Killing Civilians: Method, Madness and Morality in War, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008) p.282

[34] Simon Chesterman, Just War or Just Peace: Humanitarian Intervention and International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001); James Darcy, ‘‘Human Rights and Humanitarian Action: A Review of the Issues,’’ background paper prepared for Human Rights and Humanitarian Action—Humanitarian Policy Group Background Paper (UNICEF Workshop, Geneva, 1–17 April 2004

[35] Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Protection of Civilians and the Responsibility to Protect: Perspectives and Precedents in the Asia-Pacific, Program on the Protection of Civilians, Working Paper No. 2, p.8

[37] Michael C. Pryce (2009): ‘Mass Atrocity Response Operations: an annotated planning framework’, African Security Review, 18:4, p. 83

[38] Gregory Stanton, Genocide Watch, International campaign to end genocide, The Eight Stages of Genocide,

http://www.genocidewatch.org/aboutgenocide/8stagesofgenocide.html

[39] Pryce, Mass Atrocity Response Operations, p.84

[41] Martha Finnemore, ‘Constructing Norms of Humanitarian Intervention’ in (eds) Peter J. Katzenstein The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996) p. 158

[42] Kim Nackers, ‘Normative Contestation of the Responsibility to Protect’, paper presented at Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect Seminar Series, Semester Two 2010, 3rd June 2010

[43] Cristina G. Badescu and Thomas G. Weiss, ‘Misrepresenting R2P and Advancing Norms: An Alternative Spiral?’, International Studies Perspectives 11(4), 2010

[44] Kofi Annan, Address to the United Nations General Assembly, New York, 20 Sept. 1999, reproduced in United Nations, ‘Secretary-General presents his annual report to General Assembly’, Press release SG/SM/7136, GA/95920, 20 Sept. 1999

[45] Elizabeth More, ‘‘International Humanitarian Law and Interventions — Rwanda, 1994.’’ Genocide Studies and Prevention 2:2 (August 2007) p.163


Written by: Ashleigh Croucher
Written at: University of Queensland
Written for: Dr Patrick Jory
Date written: October 2011

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