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June 6, 2003


A few words on Gregory Stanton's excellent analysis below. It stands at the center of work by scholars on genocide, and makes the essential point that we all should take to heart-early warning is not enough; we must create and foster the international institutions to predict and prevent it. And he does mention the role of democracy, but if I may offer my only criticism, tends to bury it among other factors. Work and data on this website, however, well show that democracy is at the center.

The way to solve the horror of mass murder by tyrants is to foster democratic freedom. The international institutions that we should promote are those uniting and organizing democracies as an international force toward this end (see commentary 6/17/03).

June 9, 2003


Building An International Campaign
to End Genocide
By Dr. Gregory H. Stanton
President, Genocide Watch

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; Côte 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 Roméo 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


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


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), Prévention Génocides (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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