Our resident human rights expert (and Monday birthday boy!) Jim Z. will be handling Monday’s meeting. Some of his Amnesty International colleagues will be there, too. Actual experts!
My understanding, FWIW, is that arguably, more substantive attention has been paid to the problem of genocide in the 10 years since Rwanda than in the previous 90 years since the Armenian genocide. There has been an anti-genocide convention in international law for many decades, spurred by the Holocaust and WWII. But, since Rwanda in 1994, the international community has taken much more seriously its “responsibility to protect (R2P)” populations experiencing mass oppression. The International Criminal Court has been established and it and ad hoc courts have tried some perpetrators, including heads of state. Governments and non-governmental organizations monitor global hot spots that might turn into genocides. They make blockbuster movies about Rwanda and blood diamonds.
But, the practical and political limits to intervening to stop these crimes remain. What’s a genocide exactly and who decides? Who has a right and/or the responsibility to intervene? Where do human rights stand in relation to other powerful countries’ priorities? What if intervening to prevent genocide means backing one side over another in a civil war? How do we get out once we get it?
Jim will open us up by explaining a little bit about the U.N. genocide convention and related matters, focusing on Rwanda.
Discussion Questions –
- What are the basics of the Armenian and Rwandan genocides?
- What made them “genocides?” How is the term defined under international law? What does it include and exclude? How much ambiguity is there in the language of the covenant?
- What have we learned about preventing genocide in the last 10 or 100 years? What are the warning signs? Who’s monitoring?
- What can the international community actually do to prevent genocide? What have we learned from trying and not trying?
- When do and should other considerations keep us from acting?
- Wiki: What was the Armenian genocide? The Rwanda genocide? How is genocide defined?
- Per Jim: An interview with his colleague Alison des Forges on the Rwanda genocide.
- Who is at risk for genocide? People monitor this.
- [Late UPDATES:] South Sudan and the Central African Republic are careening towards potential genocides as we meet.]
- A critique of using genocide as the casus beli for intervening: It’s too vague a criteria and too high a threshold.
- Obama’s U.N. ambassador, a genocide expert, has tried to elevate the status of the responsibility to protect (R2P) in U.S. foreign policy.
- But, she may not be having much success.
NEXT WEEK: How to raise Americans’ wage levels? A pre- state of the Union meeting.