A History of Genocide
Violence is a side effect of humanity. It is human nature to protect and defend home, family, tribe, and nation. Just as there is interpersonal violence such as domestic violence, and stranger violence there is also violence that occurs among nations such as war. There is also violence that is considered non-state violence such as terrorist attacks of violent actions that are perpetrated by transnational organized crime groups. In addition there is violence perpetrated by a government or military against citizens of its own country. This is known as intrastate violence. Intrastate violence often times leads to the crime of genocide. While the genocide that occurred during World War II is the most well documented and most understood act of genocide there have been other incidences of violence and this form of violence continues to occur into modern times.
This research report will focus on the nature of intrastate violence and genocide, discuss the nature of political, and military regimes that are most likely to commit intrastate violence and genocide and discuss potential tips as to what nations appear to be most at risk for future violence and/or genocide. The final section of this report will be a case study of modern genocide.
Intrastate violence is one aspect of larger violent activity known as organized violence “Organized violence is an umbrella term that includes state-based armed conflict, non-state armed conflict, and one-sided violence.” (Organized Violence, n.d.) Within organized violence there are four subgrouping of violence:
- A state-based armed conflict is a contested incompatibility over government and/or territory where the use of armed force between two parties, at least one of which is the government of a state, results in 25 or more battle deaths within a calendar year. There are four types of state-based armed conflict: extra state conflict; interstate conflict; intrastate conflict; and internationalized intrastate conflict
- A non-state armed conflict involves the use of armed force between two organized groups, neither of which is the government of a state, that results in 25 or more battle deaths in a calendar year.
- One-sided violence is the use of lethal force by the government of a state, or by a formally organized group, against civilians.
- A campaign of one-sided violence refers to the use of lethal force against civilians by the government of a state, or a formally organized group, that results in 25 or more reported and codable deaths in a given country in a calendar year. The deaths need not occur at the same time. (Organized Violence, n.d.)
The common theme among all of the types of violence outlined above is the fact that the violence is directed at a civilian population. This violence can either be perpetrated by a government against its own citizens, by a military against citizens of a nation or it can be violence perpetrated by an ethnic group toward another ethnic group. Also included in this explanation is non-state armed conflict. Within this category would be terrorist groups and/or organized crime groups that engage in hostile actions against one group perpetrated against another group. Non-state organized violence is currently taking place in Mexico where drug cartels are engaged in a drug war with the Mexican government. It is believed that thousands of victims have been killed as a result of this violence and steps that authorities take in attempt to end the violence results in more instead of less violence. This is important for U.S. law enforcement authorities because of the potential that this violence may spread across the border and lead to increased violence in the United States.
Before beginning a discussion of organized violence and genocide it is important to have a clear understanding of what regions of the world are most likely to engage in organized violence:
In the first three decades that followed the end of World War II, most of the world’s battle deaths were in East and Southeast Asia and Oceania. In the 1980s, the Middle East and North Africa was the most violent region; in the 1990s, sub-Saharan Africa. By the middle of the new millennium, Central and South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa had become the world’s deadliest regions. Most recently, the deadliest conflicts in the world are concentrated in these two regions, notably the wars in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. (Human Security Report 2012, 2012)
This research indicates that areas that are experiencing political instability will also experience organized violence. There are several potential reasons for this. Primarily being an existing political party will be attempting to maintain its dominance over potential rivals, there is also the potential that a political group not in power will seek to express dominance through violence in an attempt to gain political power. Finally organized violence may take place in politically unstable nations when ethnic groups attempt to assert dominance through violence while attempting to marginalize other ethnic or religious groups.
As with other forms of violence, there are just as many reasons to engage in organized violence as there are people willing to commit a violent act. That being said, it becomes important to identify what regions/nations are the most likely to engage in organized violence. These nations seem ones that show political instability. A nation with a strong government will have less political instability as opposed to nations that have a strong government with the ability to maintain peace and security within a nation.
In terms of numbers “The last Human Security Report noted that the number of state-based armed conflicts rose by 25 percent between 2004 and 2008. While this was a significant increase, and clearly a source of concern, we cautioned against interpreting this five-year increase as a long-term trend towards an increased incidence of warfare around the world.” (Human Security Report 2012, 2012) This increase in organized violence is indicating that more regions across the globe are becoming unstable to the point that legitimate government is unable to end violence and maintain peace and security in a nation. This increased violence also poses a problem for the international community because there are fears that instability in one nation can spread instability to another nation, for example there is concern that an unstable Afghanistan may spread instability to Pakistan and India. Instability in Syria and Egypt has the potential to spread instability to the rest of the Middle Eastern/Central Asian region. Given these potential outcomes it becomes important for the international security community to identify regions were organized violence is occurring or is likely to occur and end/prevent the violence from taking place. It also becomes necessary for the international security community to investigate claims of organized violence/genocide so that perpetrators are brought to justice.
Not only is organized violence still occurring the death tolls related to this violence is also on the increase “In the mid-2000s, death tolls due to conflicts in Central and South Asia and in the Middle East and North Africa increased relative to all other regions. As the battle-death toll in Iraq decreased in 2007, however, Central and South Asia has clearly become the world’s deadliest region.” (Human Security Report 2012, 2012) At this point intrastate conflicts come in the form of internalized intrastate conflicts “Many of the deadliest conflicts of the past two decades have involved external military forces fighting in civil wars. These internationalized intrastate conflicts are, on average, twice as deadly as intrastate conflicts where there is no military intervention.” (Human Security Report 2012, 2012) These occur when the military of a nation become involved in ending violence such as civil war.
Internationalized intrastate conflicts are a type of civil conflict in which the military forces of one or more external governments fight in support of one of the warring parties. This includes so-called humanitarian interventions if external military forces officially take sides and support a party to the conflict with troops. However, the definition does not include most peacekeeping missions, which are usually deployed to support negotiated settlements and sometimes to help protect the peace against spoilers but not to further the goals of a combat. (Human Security Report 2012, 2012)
When the military of a nation becomes involved in civil unrest it is more likely that the violence will escalate not decrease due to the fact that an oppressed group that began the violence will feel that they are being more oppressed by a regime and will be unwilling to attempt to negotiate a peaceful solution. These sorts of conflicts are likely to see more of a death toll due to the fact that a nation’s military will be better equipped than insurgent groups fighting for recognition. It is important that the international community takes steps to prevent military forces from becoming involved in intrastate conflict.
The African Example:
In addition to the nations already mentioned in this research report. Africa serves as an interesting case study in regard to organized violence and genocide. “African countries experienced initial rapid economic growth after independence and then underwent a period of general decline and decay, as living standards dropped and poverty levels increased. Although average annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates remained slightly positive (see Figure 1), they fell far short of the 6–7 per cent generally required to reduce poverty in a rapidly increasing population. The GDP growth rates fell to historical low levels during the late 1970s, only recovering two decades later. (Cilliers, & Schünemann, 2013) Africa is experiencing political instability after gaining independence of its colonial masters. This is due to the fact that many of these nations had little to no understanding as to how to operate a fully functioning government. This instability of government has led to wide spread civil unrest which has led to civil war and spreading of disease. The first few decades of the 21st century have seen national borders becoming less and less meaning full as individuals attempt to immigrate (legally or illegally) to escape war and disease. This had led to a drain on the natural resources of these nations that are being forced to deal with a large influx of immigrants seeking a better life or at least an escape from violence. Instead of ending violence high levels of immigration are causing more violence to occur instead of less.
Interestingly research is indicating that economic growth may in fact increase violence in Africa as opposed to reducing violence “Rapid economic growth and improvements in most human development indices are expected to continue and go hand in hand with further declining levels of armed conflict in Africa.” (Cilliers, & Schünemann, 2013) Economic development is normally viewed as a positive step toward continued development, however, as explained above increasing numbers of individuals are moving from suburban to rural areas to escape violence and to find employment is leading to increase violence as there is increasing strain on the resources of nations.
The types of violence in Africa are also unique:
Civil or internal wars remain the dominant form of conflict in Africa. However, the number of wars has halved since the 1990s and the nature of the conflicts has changed significantly with the lines between criminal and political violence becoming increasingly blurred. As the World Development Report 2011 states, ‘the remaining forms of conflict and violence do not fit neatly either into “war” or “peace”, or into “criminal violence” or “political violence”‘. The 2011 Global Burden of Armed Violence, therefore, challenges compartmentalized approaches to armed violence. It provides a global overview of different forms of violence, tries to understand how violence manifests in various contexts and how forms of violence interact with one another. Scott Straus provides the following crisp summary on the changing nature of conflict: ‘Today’s wars are typically fought on the peripheries of states, and insurgents tend to be militarily weak and factionalized (Cilliers, & Schünemann, 2013)
This is a unique period in history where the actions of legitimate government, transnational organized crime groups and terrorist groups are beginning to merge making it difficult to sort out who is responsible for intrastate conflicts. Identification is important due to the fact that without a clear understanding of those responsible for the violence it becomes difficult to form an international response to violence. This aspect is also interesting in the fact that it is becoming difficult to separate out the desires of different types of groups it may be that different types of organizations that engage in violence are starting to bridge an ideological gap allowing for greater interaction between groups therefore making enforcement of national and international law more difficult.
Additionally as population growth continues competition for scarce natural resources will increase. It is likely that violence in developing nations will continue to increase so as to maintain their access to natural resources including electricity, water, food, medical care. For Example:
The Global Trends 2030 report goes on to state that, by 2030, the world will require 35 per cent more food, 40 per cent more water and 50 per cent more energy to cater for a global population of around 8, 3 billion people (approximately 1, 2 billion more than the present population).36 By that point, the process of global warming will already have had a measurable and durable impact on livelihoods across many communities, most affecting those with the least ability to adapt. Extreme heat, especially if accompanied by drought, may reduce or destroy agricultural yields. This is particularly relevant in Africa, with its rapid population growth and violent local clashes over grazing land, water, and minerals and other scarce commodities and resources. Therefore, the longer-term prognosis (beyond 2030) of human-induced climate change is uncertain (Cilliers, & Schünemann, 2013)
Future international security concerns will not only focus on physical security concerns such as interpersonal violence and/or terrorist activity but will also be faced with a future of intrastate conflicts in an attempt to maintain food supplies and access to natural resources. If any of the above information proves to be correct future wars and/or violence will take place due to lack of access to natural resources.
Related to intrastate violence is genocide. The term genocide is relatively new, “The term "genocide" did not exist before 1944. It is a very specific term, referring to violent crimes committed against groups with the intent to destroy the existence of the group. Human rights, as laid out in the US Bill of Rights or the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, concern the rights of individuals.” (What is Genocide?, n.d.) However, crimes that can now be considered acts of genocide have been occurring throughout history. Just as formation of government and social stratification seems to be a side effect of forming communities, taking violent action against marginalized segments of society also seem to be a natural side effect of advanced civilizations. This is indicated by the fact that the crime of genocide continues to this day.
Genocide is defined as:
[G]genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. (What is Genocide?, n.d.)
Modern incidents of genocide have occurred or are occurring in Serbia, Chechnya, Sudan and most currently Syria. In all of these cases the dominant ruling party was attempting to irradiate opposing religious groups and/or minority groups. In the case of Syria the ruling government has used WMDs against rebel forces that are attempting to depose the Assad regime.
At this point a link is being provided to an organization that monitors genocide. http://www.genocidewatch.org/genocide/8stagesofgenocide.html
Cilliers, J., & Schünemann, J. (2013). The future of intrastate conflict in Africa: more violence or greater peace ?. Tshwane (Pretoria), South Africa: Institute for Security Studies.
Human Security Report 2012 (pp. 146-230). (2012). Trends in Human Insecurity. Vancover, Canada : Human Security Rights Project.
Organized Violence. (n.d.). Statistics. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://www.hsrgroup.org/our-work/security-stats/Organized-Violence.aspx
What is Genocide?. (n.d.). What is Genocide?. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007043