Eight stages of genocide

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In 1996 Gregory Stanton, the president of Genocide Watch, presented a briefing paper called "The 8 Stages of Genocide" at the United States Department of State.[1] In it he suggested that genocide develops in eight stages that are "predictable but not inexorable".[1][2]

Overview[edit]

The Stanton paper was presented at the State Department, shortly after the Rwanda genocide and much of the analysis is based on why that genocide occurred. The preventive measures suggested, given the original target audience, were those that the United States could implement directly or use their influence on other governments to have implemented.

Stage Characteristics Preventive measures
1.
Classification
People are divided into "them and us". "The main preventive measure at this early stage is to develop universalistic institutions that transcend... divisions."
2.
Symbolization
"When combined with hatred, symbols may be forced upon unwilling members of pariah groups..." "To combat symbolization, hate symbols can be legally forbidden as can hate speech".
3.
Dehumanization
"One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects, or diseases." "Local and international leaders should condemn the use of hate speech and make it culturally unacceptable. Leaders who incite genocide should be banned from international travel and have their foreign finances frozen."
4.
Organization
"Genocide is always organized... Special army units or militias are often trained and armed..." "The U.N. should impose arms embargoes on governments and citizens of countries involved in genocidal massacres, and create commissions to investigate violations"
5.
Polarization
"Hate groups broadcast polarizing propaganda..." "Prevention may mean security protection for moderate leaders or assistance to human rights groups...Coups d’état by extremists should be opposed by international sanctions."
6.
Preparation
"Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity..." "At this stage, a Genocide Emergency must be declared. ..."
7.
Extermination
"It is 'extermination' to the killers because they do not believe their victims to be fully human". "At this stage, only rapid and overwhelming armed intervention can stop genocide. Real safe areas or refugee escape corridors should be established with heavily armed international protection."
8.
Denial
"The perpetrators... deny that they committed any crimes..." "The response to denial is punishment by an international tribunal or national courts"

In April 2012, it was reported that Stanton would soon be officially adding two new stages, Discrimination and Persecution, to his original theory, which would make for a 10-stage theory of genocide.[3]

In a paper for the Social Science Research Council Dirk Moses criticises the Stanton approach concluding:

In view of this rather poor record of ending genocide, the question needs to be asked why the "genocide studies" paradigm cannot predict and prevent genocides with any accuracy and reliability. The paradigm of "genocide studies," as currently constituted in North America in particular, has both strengths and limitations. While the moral fervor and public activism is admirable and salutary, the paradigm appears blind to its own implication in imperial projects that are themselves as much part of the problem as they are part of the solution. The US government called Darfur a genocide to appease domestic lobbies, and because the statement cost it nothing. Darfur will end when it suits the great powers that have a stake in the region.

— Dirk Moses[4]

Other authors have focused on the structural conditions leading up to genocide and the psychological and social processes that create an evolution toward genocide. Helen Fein[5] showed that pre-existing anti-Semitism and systems that maintained anti-Semitic policies was related to the number of Jews killed in different European countries during the Holocaust. Ervin Staub showed that economic deterioration and political confusion and disorganization were starting points of increasing discrimination and violence in many instances of genocides and mass killing. They lead to scapegoating a group and ideologies that identified that group as an enemy. A history of devaluation of the group that becomes the victim, past violence against the group that becomes the perpetrator leading to psychological wounds, authoritarian cultures and political systems, and the passivity of internal and external (bystanders) all contribute to the probability that the violence develops into genocide.[6] Intense conflict between groups that is unresolved, becomes intractable and violent can also lead to genocide. The conditions that lead to genocide provide guidance to early prevention, such as humanizing a devalued group, creating ideologies that embrace all groups, and activating bystander responses. There is substantial research to indicate how this can be done, but information is only slowly transformed into action.[7]

M. Hassan Kakar wrote:

For genocide to happen, there must be certain preconditions. Foremost among them is a national culture that does not place a high value on human life. A totalitarian society, with its assumed superior ideology, is also a precondition for genocidal acts.[8] In addition, members of the dominant society must perceive their potential victims as less than fully human: as "pagans," "savages," "uncouth barbarians," "unbelievers," "effete degenerates," "ritual outlaws," "racial inferiors," "class antagonists," "counterrevolutionaries," and so on.[9] In themselves, these conditions are not enough for the perpetrators to commit genocide. To do that—that is, to commit genocide—the perpetrators need a strong, centralized authority and bureaucratic organization as well as pathological individuals and criminals. Also required is a campaign of vilification and dehumanization of the victims by the perpetrators, who are usually new states or new regimes attempting to impose conformity to a new ideology and its model of society.[8]

— M. Hassan Kakar[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Gregory Stanton. The 8 Stages of Genocide, Genocide Watch, 1996
  2. ^ The FBI has found somewhat similar stages for hate groups.
  3. ^ "GenPrev in the News". Auschwitz Institute Blog. 19 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Dirk Moses Why the Discipline of "Genocide Studies" Has Trouble Explaining How Genocides End?, Social Science Research Council, 22 December 2006
  5. ^ Fein, H. (1979). Accounting for genocide: Victims and survivors of the Holocaust. New York: Fre Press[page needed]
  6. ^ Staub, E (1989). The roots of evil: The origins of genocide and other group violence. New York: Cambridge University Press.[page needed]
  7. ^ Staub, E. (2011) Overcoming evil: Genocide, violent conflict and terrorism New York: Oxford University Press.[page needed]
  8. ^ a b M. Hassan Kakar Chapter 4. The Story of Genocide in Afghanistan Footnote 9. Citing Horowitz, quoted in Chalk and Jonassohn, Genocide, 14.
  9. ^ M. Hassan Kakar Chapter 4. The Story of Genocide in Afghanistan Footnote 10. Citing For details, see Carlton, War and Ideology.
  10. ^ M. Hassan Kakar, Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Response, 1979–1982, University of California Press, 1995.