Ten stages of genocide

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The ten stages of genocide, formerly the eight stages of genocide, is an academic tool and a policy model which was created by Gregory Stanton, the founding president of Genocide Watch, in order to explain how genocides occur. The stages of genocide are not linear, and as a result, several of them may occur simultaneously. Stanton's stages are a conceptual model with no real-world sampling for analyzing the events and processes that lead to genocides, and they are also a model for determining preventative measures.

In 1996, Stanton presented a briefing paper called "The 8 Stages of Genocide" to the United States Department of State.[1] In the paper, he suggested that genocides occur in eight stages that are "predictable but not inexorable".[a][1] He presented it shortly after the Rwandan genocide, and it analyzed the Holocaust, the Cambodian genocide, and other genocides. The suggested intervention measures were ones that the United States government and NATO could implement or influence other European nations to implement including military invasion.

Stanton first conceived and published the model in the 1987 Faulds Lecture at Warren Wilson College, also presented to the American Anthropological Association in 1987. In 2012, he added two additional stages, discrimination and persecution.[2]

Stanton's model is widely used in the teaching of comparative genocide studies in a variety of settings, ranging from university courses to museum education, settings which include the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.

Ten stages[edit]

# Stage Characteristics Preventative 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 Discrimination "Law or cultural power excludes groups from full civil rights: segregation or apartheid laws, denial of voting rights". "Pass and enforce laws prohibiting discrimination. Full citizenship and voting rights for all groups."
4 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."
5 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."
6 Polarization "Extremists drive the groups apart... Leaders are arrested and murdered... laws erode fundamental civil rights and liberties." "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."
7 Preparation "Mass killing is planned. Victims are identified and separated because of their ethnic or religious identity..." "At this stage, a Genocide Emergency must be declared. Full diplomatic pressure by regional organizations must be invoked, including preparation to intervene to prevent genocide."
8 Persecution "Expropriation, forced displacement, ghettos, concentration camps". "Direct assistance to victim groups, targeted sanctions against persecutors, mobilization of humanitarian assistance or intervention, protection of refugees."
9 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."
10 Denial "The perpetrators... deny that they committed any crimes..." "The response to denial is punishment by an international tribunal or national courts."


Other genocide scholars have focused on the cultural and political conditions that lead to genocides. Sociologist Helen Fein showed that pre-existing antisemitism was correlated with the percentage of Jews who were killed in European countries during the Holocaust.[3] Political scientists such as Dr. Barbara Harff have identified political characteristics of states that statistically correlate with risk of genocide: prior genocides with impunity, political upheaval, exclusionary ideology, autocracy, closed borders, and massive violations of human rights.[4]

Stanton's model places the risk factors in Harff's analysis into a processual structure. For instance:

  • Political instability is a characteristic of what Leo Kuper[5] called "divided societies" with deep rifts, as in classification.
  • Naming and identifying members of the group occurs through symbolization.
  • Groups targeted by the state are victims of discrimination.
  • An exclusionary ideology is central to dehumanization.
  • Autocratic regimes foster the organization of hate groups.
  • An ethnically polarized elite is characteristic of polarization.
  • Lack of openness to trade and other influences from outside a state's borders is characteristic of preparation.
  • Massive violations of human rights are examples of persecution.
  • Extermination of the group in whole or in part legally constitutes Genocide.
  • Impunity after previous genocides is evidence of denial.

Stanton has suggested that "ultimately, the best antidote to genocide is popular education and the development of social and cultural tolerance for diversity."[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The FBI has found that somewhat similar stages occur when hate groups are formed


  1. ^ a b "The 8 Stages of Genocide" (PDF). Genocide Watch. 1996.
  2. ^ a b Stanton, Gregory (2020). "The Ten Stages of Genocide". Genocide Watch. Archived from the original on 14 May 2020.
  3. ^ Fein, Helen (1979). Accounting for genocide: Victims and survivors of the Holocaust. New York: Free Press.
  4. ^ Harff, Barbara (2003). "No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust? Assessing Risks of Genocide and Political Mass Murder since 1955". The American Political Science Review. 97 (1): 57–73. doi:10.1017/S0003055403000522. JSTOR 3118221. S2CID 54804182.
  5. ^ Kuper, Leo (1981). Genocide (1982 ed.). New Haven: Yale. p. 58. ISBN 0-300-03120-3.

Further reading[edit]