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Theory and Action in

Genocide Prevention

Christopher Tuckwood


18 iAM

S WITH MOST HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES, GENOCIDE HAS INSPIRED BOTH AN ACADEMIC FIELD OF STUDY AND A WORLDWIDE ACTIVIST MOVEMENT. The field of genocide studies is relatively young, but encompasses several disciplines that have produced volumes of valuable information.

Anti-genocide activism, however, has had little continuity from crisis to crisis until fairly recently. Despite their respective strengths and common goal, there is a serious disconnect between scholars and anti-genocide activists. It is as though within the body of people working against genocide, the brain and limbs fail to communicate with each other.

The twin result of the gap between scholars and activists is that much valuable theory

is never transformed into action, and that when action does occur it is often ineffective due to a lack of understanding of how genocide unfolds and should be countered. Additionally, both groups often ignore the potential agency of peoples targeted for genocide. A new way forward is needed that will let academic theory inspire and guide creative, direct action to prevent genocide.


While every case of genocide is unique, scholars have long understood that they also

share several common elements. This means that early warning signs can be identified and acted upon before lives are lost. Scholars such as Barbara Harff and Ted Gurr have even identified several preconditions that make genocide more likely within a given country before the perpetrators even start planning it. Gregory Stanton, founder and president of Genocide Watch, created a model called the “Eight Stages of Genocide,” which explains exactly how exterminations are prepared and unfold. With such knowledge available, it is nothing, if not surprising, that an early warning system is not already in place to predict genocides. Yet no government, international organization or civil society organization has moved to do this in any serious way. Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25