- Editors' Introduction
In this general issue of Genocide Studies and Prevention, the editors are pleased to present a diverse collection of articles. These include a critical examination of the issue of intent in the punishment of genocide and an assessment of the effectiveness of the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. Two articles consider justice in Rwanda, one advocating the wider application of restorative justice approaches and the other examining the construction of memory within the context of transitional justice. The final two articles explore the use of testimonials in teaching about genocide, and the manner in which the Armenian genocide was perceived in Sweden.
In "The Issue of Intent in the Genocide Convention and its Effect on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: Toward a Knowledge-Based Approach," Katherine Goldsmith challenges the prevailing and restrictive definition of genocidal intent, defined as dolus specialis, or clear, specific, and explicit intent. She argues that such an approach mitigates efforts to both prevent and punish genocide. In addition, based on her examination of Raphael Lemkin's writings and of documents concerning the framing of the United Nations Genocide Convention, she maintains that such a restrictive approach was never the aim of either Lemkin or the drafters of the Convention. To restore the concept of intent to what she argues was originally envisioned, Goldsmith advocates a knowledge-based approach that is centered more on inference from actions than on specific statements from perpetrators. Under this approach, an individual who commits an illegal act with the knowledge that it forms part of a larger plan to destroy a group would be guilty of genocide. Such an approach, she contends, would facilitate convictions for genocide, serve as a deterrent to those who would otherwise engage in such acts, and realign the interpretation of intent with the original views of both Lemkin and the framers of the Convention.
Aidan Hehir explores the efficacy of the United Nations office that is responsible for detecting and preventing genocide in "An Analysis of Perspectives on the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide." Hehir highlights the political and diplomatic dynamics that shape and limit the utility of the office. Some of these strained dynamics are within the United Nations itself, from which the Special Adviser obtains most of his information. In practice, this has often been difficult, as various offices are sometimes reluctant to provide information, often for reasons of bureaucratic territoriality. In addition, the Special Adviser can only make public statements with the support and approval of the Secretary-General. To the problematic issues of bureaucracy and institutional politics is added the inherently difficult, and somewhat paradoxical, nature of the Special Adviser's work. Success is hard to evaluate as the office is oriented toward preventing events from happening. In addition, the focus on a low-key diplomatic approach often results in recommendations that are not recorded, or heeded. Hehir concludes that the Office would be more effective with a more aggressive and public approach to preventing genocide, and he calls for the Special Adviser to have the right to address the Security Council. Important as these recommendations are, they would not solve the many problems facing [End Page 235] the Special Adviser, such as bureaucratic intransigence, unwillingness of nations to exercise political will, and the inherently advisory nature of the Office.
In "Reconciliation and Justice after Genocide: A Theoretical Exploration," Geneviève Parent challenges the primacy and efficacy of retributive justice in post-genocide contexts. Using Rwanda as an example, she argues that punitive justice, and especially the gacaca courts, provide little more than the illusion of either justice or a victim's psychological healing. Instead, their adversarial nature not only reinforces and perpetuates historic divisions and animosities, but also further victimizes those who have suffered loss. The situation is further complicated by ambiguities concerning victim/perpetrator status, most pronounced among those of mixed ancestry. In lieu of punitive justice, Parent advocates the application of restorative justice, where, on the basis of an acknowledgment of suffering, all parties endeavor to view events and conditions from the other's perspective and generate...