Since from the early decades of the 20th century, the world has witnessed several cases of mass violence from the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, Cambodia and the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Also, following the collapse of the Former Republic of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, over 8000 innocent civilians, including women, children and the elderly were massacred in a UN safe compound in Srebrenica. What are the causes of mass violence against unarmed civilians? In what way does racism, prejudice, intolerance and the politicization of identity/difference provide enabling context for xenophobia, mass violence, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity? Why has the international community failed to uphold its pledge after the Holocaust that genocide will “Never Again” be tolerated? What should be done to avert future occurrence of genocide and other form of crimes against humanity?
Using historical and comparative approaches to the study of mass atrocities, this course examines regional cases of genocide in the 20th and 21st centuries with a view to sharpen student’s understanding of the factors that drive crimes against humanity. The primary objective of the course, therefore, is to deepen student’s analytical skills and understanding of the historical, social, economic, structural and political forces that lead to genocide in different regions of the world. Using the Holocaust as a point of departure, the course examines the ideology of genocide, the role of leadership, authorization, the onset of war, power relations and the politicization of identities as key elements in the perpetration of genocidal violence. We shall also examine the recent doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) and its policy implications.
Students who successfully complete this course will be able to: