International Relations - Genocide -Assessment Answer

December 18, 2018
Author : Sara Lanning

Solution Code: 1ADBE

Question: International Relations

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"What are the causes of genocide and how can we eliminate it as a practic

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The term “Genocide” is used in international relations to describe atrocities committed against a particular racial, ethnic, national or religious group with an intention to destroy the entire existence of the same. It got its relevance in World War II after the mass killing of the Jews by Hitler. The term was coined by a Polish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) of Jewish ethnicity referring to the crimes of Nazi regime. Genocide has been declared as an international crime by the United Nations in 1948. It is considered as a major threat against international conventions of human rights across the world.

As per CPPCG or Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted by UN General Assembly in 1948, Genocide is defined based on its certain inherent characteristics. According to Article II of the Convention (Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1996), the types of violence committed which define Genocide as an international crime are as follows:-

(i) Killing of the members of a particular ethnic, national or a racial group;

(b) Causing physical or mental harm of serious nature to the members of the group;

(c) Willful and planned activities aimed at causing total or partial physical destruction of a particular group;

(d) Undertaking specific measures to a prevent births within a certain group;

(e) Transferring children from one group to another by application of force.

Analysis of the Causes of Genocides

This convention came into force in 1951 and more than 130 countries all over the world have ratified it. But, in spite of internationally recognized conventions and prosecutions, genocide has been caused in many countries since World War II. Every incidence of genocide has its own set of reasons & causes. The background information also varies in the different cases of genocide and mass murders. Though there are some root causes which are common to most of such happenings.

As explained in (Kinloch and Mohan, 2005), colonialism and post colonial conflicts are some of key reasons associated with genocides. Most of the African & Asian countries had been under the direct control of European colonial powers till the second half of 20th century. Such colonial rules caused deep rooted dissatisfactions among the common people of those countries and subsequent conflicts with the invading powers took the form of genocides.

“State Repression” and the concept of “Totalitarian States” have been cited as important causes of genocides in (Hey, 1995). State Repressions have been termed responsible for gross human rights violations when the authoritative government exerts physical and psychological pressure on a certain group of people. It has also been observed that the modern states resort to oppressive tactics in conflict situations and such coercive measures leave deep rooted dissatisfactions in the minds of the target group. Explaining the role of totalitarian states, (Hey, 1995) has further argued that all the states experiencing genocides are totalitarian states or “states in crisis”. Thus, it is only a partial cause of the outbreak of such incidences. The states in crisis are characterized by the internal atrocities and violence as well as reduced cohesion among the racial, ethnic and religious groups. Decreasing confidence among the groups for the governing authorities is also an important characteristic of states in crisis where the people held the State responsible for their displeasures.

Strong ethnic enmity created by the colonial powers can also be held responsible for certain genocides. As indicated in (BBC, 2008), the Belgian colonial power started issuing identity cards to the various ethnic groups in Rwanda after their arrival in 1916. Tutsi and Hutu were two main ethnic groups of Rwanda. The Belgians considered Tutsis as superior to the Hutus as a result of which Tutsis enjoyed more privileges for more than two decades. Such ethnic divisions were responsible for several riots between the two ethnic groups. Finally the death of Rwandan President J. Habyarimana, who was a Hutu, acted as a prime cause of infamous Rwandan Genocide. But, if the background happenings throughout the years are properly analyzed, it appears that the previous conflicts and internal displeasures were actually responsible for the whole episode.

Political reasons and gaining long term political mileage can also be considered responsible of several instances of genocide. This phenomenon is explained in (Travis, 2013) where it is termed as “politicide”. The concerned government intent fully contributes towards such incidents and hence proper justice might not be attained in such cases without international interventions. Therefore, advanced warning to the authorities by international agencies has been prescribed as a key way to stop such happenings.

The underlying intent of the perpetrators is also hold responsible in reference to the rebellion of the Hereroes against Germans in (Simon, 2007). The explicit intent involved on the part of German Lieutenant General von Trotha has been termed responsible for the unfortunate genocide of the African tribe. Similar is the case with strong dislike of Hitler for Jewish people. But, many critics believe that the idea of intent is irrelevant as the genocides are “willful” in their very nature. They also stress upon the abandoning of the intent provision from the matters of genocides as it makes the issue more complicated.

The psychological motivation of the perpetrators and cultural perspective are also considered responsible as important cause of Cambodian Genocide in (Dugdale, 1999). It was observed that the perpetrators of the violence blamed the victims and holds them responsible for the mass murder. The national psychology has been considered responsible for the collective blaming of the population for the genocide. The Khmer Rouge leaders acted according to their psychological motivation generated from the national psyche which was prevalent even before the infamous genocide. Further justifications came in the form of vaguely defined boundaries of Cambodia with Vietnam. Thus, motivational & deep cultural perceptions acted as important factors of the genocide.

Systematic & organized institutional planning can also be responsible as a prime cause of genocides. As explained in (Ronayne, 2004), the offensive campaign & mass killings against Kosovo Albanians in Genocide in Kosovo were fully planned by the Serbian Forces. It is also mentioned that a covert plan code named as Operation Horsehoe was crafted much before the actual incident by the Serbs. The institutional Serbian forces acted as perpetrators of the violent ethnic cleansing campaign which resulted in gross human rights violations against the Kosovo Albanians.


Analysis of Elimination of Genocide as a Practice

The internationally renowned intergovernmental institutions, individual governments, non-governmental organizations and acclaimed individuals have been trying for decades to find ways for the elimination of genocide as a practice. The main concern has been the complex nature of the atrocities committed against human population and involvement of the sovereign authorities & communities in such episodes. Moreover, the definition of genocide becomes a matter of huge concern while dealing with mass violence and their inherent characteristics. Though, such mass atrocities & genocides can be prevented by united effort of the global community.

Most of the institutions researching on the preventive measures of genocides have come to the conclusion that strong political will can help in eliminating the outbreak of such tragedies in the beginning stage (Preventing genocide - united to end genocide, 2016). For that, the government authorities & political leaders have huge responsibilities on their shoulders. Moreover, it is also stated that the perpetrators of mass violence cannot be successful without institutional support system. Such institutions can be corporations or governments. Therefore, international policy makers and regulators can also help in stopping such happenings.

Preventive Diplomacy can also be helpful for the prevention and outbreak of genocides. Though, it is a short term measure, it can yield quick positive results if implemented following best practices. It has been observed in (Hamburg, 2015) that it is essential to properly analyze the specific set of problems faced by a particular nation during the time of emergencies and formulate preventive measures accordingly. The book has also stressed on the need of adopting long term measures which help the concerned nations in a big way. International forces can guide the nation in rebuilding their socio economic and cultural structure so that peace prevails in a healthy environment.

Another important factor analyzed in (Hamburg, 2015) is the use of past incidents of genocide and mass murders in attaining the solutions of a present event. Proper investigation of the factors associated with past genocides can help in determining the lost opportunities in stopping the events. At the same time, the preventive measures to be adopted in post conflict situations can also be assessed on the basis of previous happenings.

The countries must go beyond publicly condemning the incidents. This responsibility is more in case of the neighboring countries of a state in crisis. For example, as mentioned in (Totten, 2008) during the invasion of East Timor in 1975 by the Indonesian military, there was a conflict of national aspirations of East Timor and Indonesia. East Timor was undergoing through the process of decolonization and Indonesia wanted to control the newly decolonized island territories of the neighborhood. Thus, people of East Timor experienced huge mass killings and atrocities from 1975 to 1991. But, in the beginning stage, some of the neighboring countries was not proactively tried to stop the invasion due to the pressure from US governments and economic interests. Therefore, it is highly required to prevent the happenings by the neighboring states and world powers in the primary stage itself.

The need of a professional rapid task force administered by the United Nations is paramount in successfully dealing with the incidents of mass killings. The force should be strong enough to successfully intervene in such situations (Stanton, 2003). Moreover, this force should not be dependent on the direct assistance of the member governments. Moreover, a powerful International Criminal Court dedicated for the prosecution of the perpetrators of genocides is also helpful in dealing with the post genocide proceedings. This court should be established by the collective will of the nations and should be strong enough to pause a serious warning to the future perpetrators of violence through exemplary punishments.

The governments, UN agencies as well as national & international organizations should try to address the problem of discrimination against a certain race, religious or national group in a particular geography. Similarly, constructive dialogue process can also provide huge assistance towards trust building measures in conflict situations. The opposing parties in a conflict can explore the common interests and values which can be beneficial for the greater welfare of both the parties (Preventing genocide: Threats and responsibilities, 2004). The main objective of a dialogue process is to understand the concerns of all the participating groups and stopping the possibilities of future conflicts. Therefore, it is an essential measure for the prevention of genocides.


Analysis of the Genocide of Hazara People in Afghanistan

The genocide of Hazara community can be regarded as a serious mass atrocity of systematic nature. Hazara people are basically from Shia community and hail from Hazaristan in Afghanistan. Their population is dispersed among Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan by approximately 7 million, 2 million and 1.5 million respectively. They claim that they are descendents of Mongol troops and left behind in modern day Afghanistan in 13th Century after an unsuccessful invasion.

Abdur Rahman Khan was the Emir of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901 and it is a widely known fact that mass violence was committed under his rule against the revolting Hazara people. Some sections of Hazara tribe supported Sher Ali Khan (1825-1879) against Emir Abdur Rahman Khan and as a response to this; a large number of revolting Hazara people faced mass execution as well as enslavement. They were sold in Afghan markets like other commodities. As a result of this politically motivated & systematic genocide, large sections of Hazara people dispersed to Balochistan and North Eastern Iran.

As mentioned in (Gier, 2016), even in modern history, the Hazara people are facing discrimination in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan. They were barred from the rights enjoyed by other ethnic & religious and minorities through Afghan Constitution. Before the emergence of Taliban as a central force in Afghanistan, more than a thousand Hazara people were killed as per the instructions of President Burhanuddin Rabbani. On the other hand, after the meteoric rise of Taliban, Hazara tribe was included in the alliance formed by the US to counter them. Though they helped the US in killing around 2,000 Taliban prisoners, the Taliban retaliated by killing around 5000-6000 precious Hazara lives in Mazar-I Sharif.

After Taliban gained control over Afghanistan, Hazara tribe faced a second genocide in modern history after Emir Abdur Rahman, who was responsible for killing more than 60% of Hazara population of his time. Though the massacre of Mazar- I Sharif was indiscriminate & devastating in nature, other incidents of mass killings also happened under the Taliban Rule. Two of such events are the incident of Robatak Pass in May, 2000 and that of Yakaolang in January 2001 (Clements, 2003). All these unfortunate events are condemned by the UN and international organizations such as Amnesty International.

Hazara people have also been facing mass atrocities in Pakistan since decades. Many religious organizations of Sunni section and government of Pakistan have exploited the ethnic group to great extent. The persecution of Hazara people in Quetta (the provincial capital of Balochistan) is responsible for taking around 1,500 lives and wounding thousands of others. In an entirely similar fashion, hundreds of Hazara deaths have been reported in Karachi of Pakistan. As properly explained in (Azhar, 2013), the remaining Hazara people have felt “pessimistic” about living in Pakistan. It has been also observed that the government of Pakistan is not capable of protecting their rights from rival forces.

In this way, Hazara tribe has faced serious violations of human rights from different forces throughout 19th and 20th Century. Many critics and scholars of international relations feel that strong international political will and serious diplomatic efforts of leading world powers can only save Hazara people from their unfortunate conditions of existence in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan.

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