"Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept, there can be no end save victory."
Genocide is World History
Unfortunately genocide is not just American history, it’s world history. But to attempt to find the roots of genocide and its trail in other countries would be inappropriate for me since I’ve only lived in the United States. I haven’t witnessed first hand what life is really like anywhere else for a long enough period of time to make judgments on how things came to exist. I don’t want to paint a picture to the story based on the limited information I have.
What I do know is that up until 1948 the concept of universal human rights did not exist. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) came in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust as an attempt to prevent the atrocities from occurring again. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Roosevelt, was a primary force to creating and drafting the UDHR document. There were 18 members of the United Nations from various backgrounds all over the world that decided we should have a common standard for all of humanity, regardless of our differences. 48 nations voted in favor of the UDHR.
There have been debates on whether the UDHR is fair to humanity. It’s been criticized for having Western philosophies in a world that is too diverse to be limited to the notion of universal human rights. Some have claimed it undermines our differences and values. That it doesn’t respect our individuality as nations and our cultures. These debates and criticisms are fundamental to our unity for world peace. We should always consider views other than our own.
But in order to unify there has to be a simple standard that we adhere to. Being human is what makes us all the same regardless of our differences and values. The UDHR declares that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, that we are all entitled to the rights and freedoms in the declaration. Although there were instances of genocide prior to the establishment of the UDHR and several other nations became member states of United Nations later on, this is the moral standard I’ll use as we take a look at the effects of genocide in other countries across the world.
"Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Genocide affects people and nations in many ways, most importantly being that it’s a violation of human rights. It’s a threat to one’s welfare and livelihood. It has immediate effects as well as long lasting effects. With many of the genocides across the world, it’s led to war and millions being displaced, false imprisonment with inhumane conditions, death from malnutrition or other heath issues, disease, lack of medical care, loss of education, families being separated, loss of culture, psychological factors such as trauma, identity issues, etc. No two genocides are exactly the same and the results vary from one to the next.
Before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was established, the traditional view was that the way a sovereign state treats its citizens was their business only. Inhumane atrocities such as genocide were also hard to believe but once pictures from the Holocaust started to come around it was clear that there was a need to develop a standard of human rights. In 1946 the United Nations formed the Human Rights Commission with 18 delegates from their respective member states. Most of delegates were strangers to each other. It took over two years for them to write and finalize the UDHR because they had many differing views and misunderstandings, which is reflective of humanity. As they drafted each area of rights they learned to compromise and come to a general consensus despite their differences, cultural barriers, and personal animosities. The point of the UDHR was not to be legally binding, but to be a common standard of achievement for all nations to adhere to. It was to bring forth the view that the rights of an individual are above the rights of the state. It was to promote moral behavior because laws aren’t enough to achieve those results.
After the UDHR was established the United Nations Human Rights Commission created an international human rights law based on it. They made two documents, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESR). These became the international law in 1976. Along with the UDHR, the two covenants became known as the International Bill of Human Rights. After the UDHR came about groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch started to advocate those rights and monitor the world. They’ve helped draw attention to and report instances of genocide in many countries.
Some see the UDHR to be meaningless without the law or system of the courts, police, and military backing them up. As of today there are 193 member states of the United Nations. They have adopted the UDHR as well as the laws that protect them. Despite this, discrimination and a violation of human rights persists. It’s estimated that 90% of people around the world only know 3 out of 30 of their universal human rights. As mentioned in article 7 of the UDHR, we are all equal before the law and we are all entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. We’re all entitled to protection against any discrimination in violation of the Declaration.
On one end laws give structure to society. They are rules put in place to protect our rights and to keep us safe. They help maintain order and to serve justice. Everyone is supposed to follow the law and no one is supposed to be above it. But sometimes there are laws in place that are legally “right” but morally wrong, which can make things difficult. Laws can become confusing when there is one law on top of another. There are also laws that protect the state from having to intervene and protect the individual, such as the Genocide Convention. It can be hard to prove the intent to destroy in genocide. Another issue that comes up with genocide is the definition of “in part”, how many people does it take to be considered in part.
This is where the UDHR comes in handy, because these are our rights before the law. They don’t specifically protect one from genocide, but they protect one from many of the violation of human rights that occur as a result of genocide. They are our individual rights that are above the rights of the state. Our universal rights as listed in the UDHR are only meaningless if we don’t know them or understand them. It is our duty to learn our rights, claim them, and demand them. They are our rights no matter who we are or where we are.
We may have different views on what constitutes as genocide, the intent to destroy, or how many people it takes to be considered genocide. We may also have misunderstandings since genocide can be very complex. But hopefully by reviewing the effects of genocide in the past century or so we can come to a general consensus that at the very least they are a form of discrimination in violation of one’s individual rights.
Glendon, Maryann. A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Random House, 2002.
Effects of Genocide
There is no common root to all the genocides across the world; each country has their own historical background that has led to genocide. Some of the genocides attacked national, ethnical, racial or religious groups while others targeted political or social groups. Some of them overlapped across the different areas of groups. The Genocide Convention doesn’t include political or social groups in their definition, but they are still groups of people that have been destroyed by another group of people.
In every single genocide across the world from the past century or so people have lost their loved ones and families were torn apart. There were children taken from their parents and forced to live with other families, murder, death from starvation or disease, abductions, or false imprisonment. Torture, rape, and sexual or physical abuse were also common themes throughout many of the genocides. There were issues of the use of children soldiers, deportation, forced marches, forced labor, concentration camps, looting of homes, property, and livestock, burning of villages, destruction of schools, hospitals or medical facilities, and religious sites. In some cases there was forced marriages and/or forced conversion of religion.
The act of genocide and destroying a group of people, in whole or in part, has many effects. Lives are impacted on an individual level as well as on a group level. There are psychological and sociological effects on personal, cultural, economical, and political levels. Genocide destroys people, families, communities, and society overall. The effects of genocide carries down from one generation to the next. Some genocides led to other ones down the line or spread into other countries. The Australian genocide against the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander and the Turkey genocide against the Christian Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks are proof that overall effects pass into the next century. The American genocide against the Native Americans is evidence that the effects lasts for several centuries and will continue to do so unless we put an end to it now.
The mental health impact of genocide can lead to depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other mental health issues. In some cases victims had nightmares and/or trouble sleeping in the aftermath. Many reported feelings of hatred and wanting to get revenge on their perpetrators. Several survivors turned to alcohol or drugs as coping mechanisms. The loss of identity was also common for many survivors and the feeling of their lives being broken without the ability to repair their futures.
Rape and sexual violence were prevalent throughout many of the genocides, primarily with women and girls. Several victims were stigmatized within their communities, which made it difficult for them to speak out about the atrocities they endured. Many that became pregnant either aborted or abandoned their children, leaving numerous orphans as a result of genocide. It was common for women or girls that were in forced marriages to come back home being seen as traitors. Although it was forced, converting religions was mostly frowned upon. The use of child soldiers became frequent in the more recent genocides. The child soldiers were also stigmatized in their communities, which made it harder for them to readjust back into their lives.
Millions of survivors of genocide were displaced either internally or in the countries they sought refuge in. The burning of villages and looting or illegal sales of home, property, and livestock left many without a place to live or a way to earn a living. Several had to resort to living in the streets, makeshift homes, or refugee camps. Majority of the time they were left with little access to basic necessities such as food, water, and medical care which resulted in many more deaths from starvation and disease. In some cases people became so hungry they turned to cannibalism, with some even eating their own family members. Many survivors ended up in refugee camps that were too crowded and unsanitary. Some of those that tried to make it to refugee camps ended up being sold into trafficking rings.
Genocide has perpetuated a system of poverty leaving too many without adequate resources for employment. Several children that lost their parents or had an injured parent as a result of genocide were forced to work to help provide for their families. The destruction of schools was prevalent in the recent genocides. Hundreds of thousands of children have been left without an education, which can lead to lost generations. Without education children are denied the opportunity to learn about the world around them and the skills needed so they can succeed in life. The broken infrastructures in the recent genocides has led to humanitarian crises that only a few are paying attention to. We’re currently facing the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II; it’ll only get worse unless we all come together to save humanity now.
Throughout all the genocides the government either incited violence or abuse through hate speeches or the media, was complicit with it, restricted the media from reporting on it, did little to stop it, or a combination of any of the above. The use of military soldiers was also common throughout many of the genocides. In several of them political prisoners were subjected to torture, abuse, and living in inhumane conditions; whether they were unlawfully detained or perpetrators.
There were at least a few genocides in which there was evidence of government officials from other countries being complicit with them. They either provided financial or military support, or both. For the most part those involved were not persecuted for their involvement. In some cases the high level perpetrators were able to flee to other countries, living freely in asylum. The United States itself has a history of denying and hiding the genocide the country is built on. No government officials were ever tried for their crimes. No President has suffered politically for ignoring genocides in other countries or for their contribution to them. Overall these factors have added to the continuing cycle of genocide across the world.
We have a world history of genocide, war, corruption, and violating human rights. The effects of genocide continues to transform the world into a state of destruction. It’s left millions of people still being discriminated against today. All around the world people are still struggling for their basic human rights. Genocide divides our countries, continents, the international community, and humankind overall. Genocide is the world’s biggest hypocrisy. Until we fix our corrupt governmental policies genocide will continue. Until we adhere to both national and international laws regarding genocide and basic human rights genocide will continue. Until we end genocide there is no freedom and equality for all. Until we end genocide everyone’s future is at risk from a life free from discrimination.
"We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Justice is a crucial step for survivors of genocide. Justice can bring out the truth about the atrocities that occurred and the human rights that were violated. It helps preserve the memories of those who perished and can prevent future atrocities from happening. Without justice it’s hard for survivors to heal and move forward with their lives. If perpetrators confess to their crimes, apologize, and ask for forgiveness it can start the reconciliation process. National trials, international trials, truth and reconciliation commissions, redress, and formal apologies can assist with bringing justice in the world.
Trials on a national level may have some advantages over trials on an international level. When prosecution of genocide and the trials take place in the country where the atrocities occurred, members of the community become more connected to the matter. It can create a strong psychological and preventative effect on society. They have an even greater advantage when combined with more access to evidence, witnesses, victims, and perpetrators. But some nations have underdeveloped or faulty legal institutions making it difficult for justice to be served. Applying the Genocide Convention in national law can also tough if the country has reservations that are self-serving.
In 2002 the International Criminal Court (ICC) was established as a way to try those involved with genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes. Before that international courts or tribunals were used to prosecute perpetrators of genocide as well as other serious violations of humanitarian law. The ICC can only come in to assist if national courts show they are incapable or unwilling to investigate or prosecute a crime. They only target the higher-level perpetrators and only individuals; not organizations or governments. The ICC is currently working on cases in Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Libya, Sudan, and Uganda.
There are Truth and Reconciliations Commissions in over 30 countries around the world. Commissions generally operate for a few months to a couple years. The purpose of these commissions are to bring justice through social connections and peace instead of retribution. In some societies this is the preferred option if they want to avoid long trials or trials that may not go anywhere. The commissions offer victims a forum to openly speak about their or their family’s injustices. Discussing the trauma can help them to confront the past as a way to build their future. Their testimonies are beneficial for a commission’s published findings as a permanent resource for others to learn.
Redress is a way to rectify the damage or abuse. There are five prerequisites that Colin Tatz, a political scientist, says are necessary for redress: “a human injustice must have been committed, it must be well-documented, victims must be identifiable in a distinct group, the current members must continue to suffer harm, and harm should be casually connected to the past injustice.” Redress can be in forms of monetary payments, territorial agreements, restitution of property or cultural objects, co-management of resources and profit sharing, and affirmative action measures in politics, education, and employment sectors. Redress helps victims to rebuild their lives.
Formal apologies can help bring communities together. It requires communication between the perpetrator and the victim. It acknowledges the perpetrators’ regret for their immoral behavior and the suffering their victims endured. Once survivors have accepted apologies, it can create a sense of morality within the community. Without apologies it may leave survivors with anguish or the desire to get revenge.
To serve justice is to preserve human rights. Without justice there is no peace. It is a necessary element for successful conflict resolution. It restores faith in a broken government. It unites communities so they can live together in harmony. Justice is a fundamental step for progression. Justice is for the victims, their families, communities, and everyone’s future. We owe it to all of humanity and especially children around the world the right to live their lives without fear or violence.
Jones, Adam. Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction. Routledge, 2017.
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Prevention as intervention is a key step to ending genocide. Some reliable indicators that genocide is approaching and preventative steps are:
A history of genocide and intercommunal conflict: Perpetrators of genocide tend to be repeat offenders. They may become accustomed to mass killings and see it as a necessary response when challenges to state security arise. There are usually pre-existing patterns of state behavior and state-society relations.
Severe economic crisis: When people are having a hard time making a living they are prone to finding scapegoats among minority groups. They’re lured by the opportunity to loot and pillage. During an economic crisis state authorities may turn to genocidal behavior as a way to maintain power.
Mobilization along lines of communal change: People tend to associate with others who share similarities with them, such a religion, language, etc. A non-genocidal society needs to learn to live, work, play, and go to school together. Different nations must do the same to reduce prejudice.
Hate propaganda: This is typically seen in mass media, public political speeches, websites, and graffiti. Hate propaganda can also be spread through rumors and gossip. Through their words and their deeds, you can see who the perpetrators targets are and they should be confronted accordingly.
Unjust discriminatory legislation and related measures: When discriminatory policies are embodied in law and in unequal systems of “justice”, they isolate designated groups that can be a precursor to their extermination.
Severe and systematic state repression: Repression and state terror are significant factors that a genocide campaign may be starting. There may be emergency measures imposed such as restrictions on civil liberties, banning or harassing of opposition parties and organizations, arbitrary detentions and wide-scale round-ups of civilians, increased use of torture as state policy, and a steady flow of refugees or internally displaced persons.
Through scientific observation one can predict future genocides. The prediction along with the appropriate action to intervene can stop the atrocities from occurring. The most significant part for success is to develop corrective political mechanisms or structures, which is based on political, will. Thomas Cushman, a human rights scholar, is skeptic of such optimism that all genocides can be prevented or stopped. He believes that some can be but there are limitations. This is a similar concern for many genocide scholars.
To remain skeptic of preventing or stopping genocide is the biggest limitation we can put on our future and ourselves. Holding a pessimistic view will only continue the suffering around the world that millions are currently living. It will perpetuate the cycle of discrimination that we all have a right to live free from. Humans started genocide, which means humans can end genocide. Genocide can be prevented and must be stopped.
Jones, Adam. Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction. Routledge, 2017.
Responsibility to Protect
The United Nations has a poor track record when it comes to combating and preventing genocide. Leo Kuper, a sociologist who specialized in genocide, said it reflects the organization’s founding on state sovereignty. Most member states will try to avoid calling attention to their past or present atrocities. However, the United Nations has contributed to peacekeeping and peace building. In the 1980s the United Nations stressed the importance of peace building. Peace building entails strengthening national institutions, overseeing elections, promoting human rights, providing rehabilitation programs, and initiating resumed development. Peace building is constructed to reduce the risk of conflict repeating and to create conditions that are most useful for reconciliation, reconstruction, and recovery.
In 2001 the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) released a report called The Responsibility to Protect. The idea behind this is that it is the nation’s primary responsibility to ensure the welfare of its citizens. It is the nation’s responsibility to protect its citizens from mass atrocities such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing. It is the nation’s responsibility to provide prevention efforts to keep those crimes from happening. If the nation fails to protect it’s citizens from mass atrocities, then it becomes the international community’s responsibility to protect those citizens.
The international community has the responsibility to prevent, react, and rebuild. Their first priority is prevention so that such atrocities do not occur. If conflicts intensify, then it becomes their responsibility to react. Peaceful measures should always be used first. If peaceful measures are inadequate, then military intervention can be used. Military intervention should only be used when necessary and the UN Security Council has the authority to approve it. Military intervention is justified if there are wide-scale mass killings, forced expulsion, acts of terror, or rape. If military intervention occurs then the international community has the responsibility to rebuild afterwards. They should provide aid and help with reconciliation.
In 2005 the Responsibility to Protect was adopted at the United Nations Summit. All member states of the United Nations formally agreed to adhere to the basic forms of civilized conduct. It is only the UN Security Council that has the global legal right to urge countries to adhere to the international treaty, and by force if necessary.
Jones, Adam. Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction. Routledge, 2017.
Analysis of Responsibility to Protect
The authors of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) had moral intentions for developing the doctrine; protecting citizens from mass atrocities that violate human rights are the foundation of it. It was created in the aftermath of the Bosnian and Rwandan genocides and the international community’s failure to prevent them, as well as the NATO bombing in Kosovo, which many have questioned the legitimacy of. The United Nations omitted some aspects of the ICISS version of the R2P, but overall the concepts are the same. The adoption of the R2P was the first time the international community became obligated to be collectively responsible to act if a nation failed to protect its citizens from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, or ethnic cleansing. Although the intentions behind the R2P are good, in theory and in practice it has many flaws. It has weak points regarding the responsibility of a nation, international community, and the United Nations.
One of the issues with the R2P is that it is supposed to step away from the idea of national sovereignty, but instead it regresses back to it. In every case of genocide in the past century as well as the lengthy American genocide, the government was complicit with it or failed to stop it. While a government is not a nation itself, they are a tool of it. Throughout history government officials have been the ones enabling corrupt policies that allow mass atrocities to occur in the first place, so how can we trust and expect the current governments to protect our rights before the states? There’s not enough emphasis on the protection of an individual’s rights before the law and above the state’s. Then there’s the psychological aspect in which genocide perpetrators justify their actions by saying they must protect their community. Some of them may even believe their actions are acceptable because they are preserving “peace”. They can use the R2P to their advantage to fit their agenda. There may also be disagreements as to what constitutes as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, or ethnic cleansing, which can prolong the crimes to occur even longer and result in more destruction. If a nation’s governmental powers doesn’t care or see what they’re doing is wrong, doesn’t believe their crimes fit a definition for any of the mass atrocities, or can’t come to a consensus on them, it makes it challenging to uphold the principle of responsibility.
On the basis of international military intervention, the R2P does more harm than good. The R2P does not specify what type of military intervention is acceptable, which gives other countries access to use bombs, missiles, or other weapons. It’s counter-intuitive to allow the international community the right to use military intervention to stop genocide if it’s going to contribute to more casualties. It’s hypocritical to use military intervention if it’s going to violate the human rights they are supposed to be protecting. Only peaceful military intervention, such as using peacekeepers that are trained not to open fire, would be appropriate. The R2P can also be used by powerful nations that have hidden agendas to dominate weaker nations. It gives them authority to intervene as they please. It even gives nations that may be complicit with one another in committing mass atrocities access to carry out more crimes that violate human rights. Overall the use of military intervention promotes the idea of war for a worthy cause and gives countries an excuse to do so.
In 2011 President Obama referred to the R2P as justification for military intervention in Libya. The goal was to save lives with peaceful intervention, but instead typical war tactics were used. Airstrikes were launched to overthrow the Libyan government, which resulted in civilian casualties. The intervention left the country in a state of instability. In 2016 President Obama said that it was his worst mistake; he said the intervention didn’t work and he failed to plan for rebuilding afterwards. It’s not as simple as removing high level perpetrators from the area of conflict and leaving an already unstable country to figure it out on their own. If appropriate peaceful intervention is used, there needs to be a long-lasting plan of action for rebuilding the government and infrastructure afterwards.
The United Nations and its Security Council is only as strong as it’s member states. Until representatives of the member states are bold enough to draw attention to their past or present atrocities and take corrective action, they’re unreliable resources. They stressed the importance of peace building so they should follow through and do more to protect citizens from mass atrocities. If the R2P was working the way they proposed it, they would have a better response to the recent and ongoing tragedies in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Myanmar, Nigeria, Palestine, Philippines, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The R2P doctrine they have imposed is an example of their insufficient bureaucracy. It leaves too much wiggle room for unsatisfactory conditions.
From the adoption of the Genocide Convention, to the UDHR, and the Responsibility to Protect, we have a history of contradictory standards. We implement measures that look good on the outside but fail to take the appropriate steps to make them work on the inside. The concepts of valuing basic human rights, a nation’s responsibilities to protect its citizens from mass atrocities, and the international community’s responsibility to act are milestones we have yet to reach. Over and over again our systems have failed us, which means it’s up to us to protect ourselves and everyone else. We all have the social responsibility to end genocide and secure the freedom and equality we need.
"Genocide is the responsibility of the entire world."
Just because our political leaders are not bold enough to claim genocide doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t. We’ve wasted enough time waiting for someone else to say the word genocide first. We need to call it for what it is and take on the responsibility that comes with it. Just like it takes a lot more than a few people for genocide to occur, it’s going to take a lot more than a few people to end it. We all have the duty to fight for basic human rights. We all have the moral obligation to stand up against mass atrocities. We all must ignore the national and international boundaries that separate us and act.
To be effective with helping others means that everyone needs to understand what genocide is and how it affects us. Genocide is still happening around the world today because it’s a subject that is rarely taught, along with the human rights it violates. Until we can change our system and every school teaches genocide and human rights, it’s up to us to educate others. We need to teach it to our families, friends, peers, and colleagues. We need to teach others the contributing factors to genocide as well as the long-lasting damaging effects. We need to make sure that everyone knows his or her basic rights as stated in the UDHR. We need to talk with our children about genocide and the underlying issues of discrimination, how it leads to war, and the human rights that are violated. Everyone needs to learn the real American history that is often hidden and how genocide shaped our system of war, profits over people, and inequality today.
To reach others means we need to raise awareness about genocide and human rights. We have the technological resources that connect us to others around the world, so we need to use them to our advantage. We need to use our social media platforms, mobile communication, and digital networks to connect with others. We need to raise awareness within our communities; there are schools, religious sites, businesses, nonprofits, and social groups within communities everywhere. We need to press the issue with local and national media so that they’ll cover it. We need to take the initiative and send letters/emails to government officials. We need to let them know that we demand them to act and that we won’t stand for their corrupt policies any longer. That we refuse to be treated with inequality. That we’re sick of paying taxes that contributes to the death of others while they profit off it. That we’re tired of hearing them say “never again” but not following through. Our government will not do its job of ensuring our welfare and basic human rights until we require them to. Our political leaders are not going to take the risk until they feel pressured to from all of us. If we all do our part in raising awareness they will listen. There are several steps our government will need take to prevent and end genocide.
We need to develop a governmental policy that focuses on our rights as outlined in the UDHR. It should emphasize an individual’s rights before the law and above the state’s. One of the best ways to do that is through education; every school needs to teach it in some form as well as the history of our own genocide. For the most part, our education system in the United States is biased and hides the truth about genocide in our country, which is why so many people don’t know about it, or believe it. Our history is so important because it teaches us how we got to this point and why things are the way they are now. It gives us understanding to our environment. Education on genocide and human rights is critical so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes again. Some may argue that it’s unpatriotic to call attention to our atrocities and corrupt practices but telling the truth so that we are all informed citizens and can make better decisions is one of the most patriotic things we can do.
We need to develop a corrective political structure that focuses on ending genocide worldwide. The President needs to make ending genocide a national priority. Combating genocide is the best thing we can do to protect our freedom, our national security, and ourselves from terrorism. The United States must send a clear message to the political leaders and/or militias who order or carry out mass atrocities that they will be brought to justice for their crimes. No perpetrator should be given the opportunity to live freely in asylum. We need to push for effective punishment in national and international courts. Government officials must stop providing financial/military support or weapons to countries that are committing mass atrocities. Anyone found complicit should be held accountable. Congress needs to stop spending money fueling wars and instead use that money for ending and preventing genocide. That money should be used to train and supply peacekeepers for countries that are facing mass atrocities now. Peacekeepers will help protect civilians and deliver humanitarian aid to them. Many people in areas of conflict are lacking basic necessities such as food, water, medical, and housing needs. We need to provide the tools to help them get back on their feet.
As a member state of the United Nations we formally agreed several times to protect and respect basic human rights. That means that we, or other member states, cannot declare that treatment of our citizens is only our business. It means that we, or other member states, cannot avoid responsibility to act when mass atrocities occur in any part of the world. We must work with other member states to change the policies we put in place so that we can better protect citizens worldwide. We need to change the Genocide Convention and remove any reservations, understandings, or declarations that nations currently have. We must protect the individual’s rights before the law and above any grounds of national sovereignty. We need to take out the requirement of intent in genocide; both the intent to commit the act and intent to destroy a group. Proving the intent in genocide is extremely difficult and is only allowing more atrocities to occur. We need to enforce the UDHR at all times; any nation in violation of the UDHR should be held accountable. We need to get rid of the Responsibility to Protect; it’s not practical and has too much room for error. Only peaceful military intervention should be allowed and be written as a formal policy that all member states consent to. All member states should call attention to current or past atrocities to gain trust from the public. All member states should assist one another with peacekeeping and peace building efforts.
Coming together to fix our nation and assisting internationally will make the world a better and safer place for all of us. By changing the current policies in the United States and within the United Nations we will change our history of contradictory standards. Changing our policies is sending the message that we value basic human rights, that as a nation we hold ourselves responsible for protecting our citizens from mass atrocities, and that as a member of the international community we hold ourselves responsible to act. But changing our policies is not enough. To truly end genocide, we must continuously hold ourselves socially responsible so there is no space for injustice worldwide.
"What I'm asking for is hard. It's easier to be cynical; to accept that change isn't possible, and politics is hopeless, and to believe that our voices and actions don't matter. But if we give up now, we forsake a better future."
Reality of Ending Genocide
When our systems have repeatedly failed us, it may difficult to believe that we can change our nation and the world. It may be difficult to believe that humans are going to change. Some of us may have even developed or enabled the corrupt policies that are in place now, either in purpose or without realizing it. But no one is perfect and we all mistakes; sometimes small ones and sometimes big ones. When we have a certain way of doing things it becomes harder to change our minds. Sometimes we’re blinded by the way people treat us and so we end up doing the same thing to someone else. Sometimes we don’t think things through all the way and consider how it will affect others. But we can change our minds, morals, and beliefs at any time. We can forgive ourselves for the mistakes of our past and we can make up for it by correcting them for our future.
Genocide shows just how connected to one another we really are. It shows how we are all constantly affecting one another through our words and our actions. It shows how it connects and affects us on personal, cultural, political, governmental, and economical levels. Genocide is still happening today because we’ve allowed it to for so long. We’re divided because of the labels we created to define one another. We’re divided because we discriminate against others based on their national, ethnical, racial, religious, political, or social status. At the end of the day we’re all human which means we’re all the same. Human rights are the moral standard that we always hold ourselves to. The moment we take that away from anyone, regardless of his or her actions, is the moment we’ve lost freedom. We can learn to protect our freedom without destroying others in the process.
The reality of ending genocide is that it’s a lot easier said than done. It’s going to take a lot of time and money to get the message out. But every sacrifice we make now is an investment for our future. We’ve been using crowdfunding frequently to help others in the past decade or so. We’ve assisted families, friends, and strangers with medical bills, memorial services, natural disasters, emergencies, education, projects, businesses, etc. We’ve already supported so many people within our communities, which is great, and we should continue to do so. But we should also use crowdfunding to pool our resources together for ending genocide since it will benefit all of us. Investing in people first is one of the best things we can do for our economy and this method is what’s sustainable for our future. Our commitment to prioritizing human rights will empower others to succeed so we can all be productive members of society.
The reality of ending genocide is that it’s going to take years of challenging work to create a lasting framework. There might be days where it seems like we’re not progressing. There might be days where our efforts may seem futile. There might be days where we just want to give up. But every day we choose to turn the other way is another day of living in fear for someone else. It’s another day of suffering for someone on the other side. It’s another day of psychological and sociological effects that will one day affect another person. When you listen to and watch the stories of the victims, the message is the same. They’re pleading for help and are wondering if they will ever have a better future. For every day that we choose not to work towards freedom is another day of inequality for all of us. For every day that we work towards ending genocide is a day of progression towards world peace. As long as we keep pushing we will succeed. We can be the first generation to implement practices that follow through with the standards of living we’ve claimed throughout history. We can be the first generation to give meaning to the words, “never again”. We can be the first generation to end genocide once and for all.