- Editor’s Introduction
The present issue of Genocide Studies and Prevention is a combined issue. Since the previous two volumes, “60 Years after the Ratification of the Genocide Convention: Critical Reflections on the State and Future of Genocide Studies, Parts 1 and 2” were longer than usual, the editors decided to combine Volume 7, Issues 2 and 3 into a single issue. It is a general issue containing a wide variety of material and should be, we hope, of interest to a broad range of readers.
This issue continues the tradition followed by Genocide Studies and Prevention throughout its now seven years of publication as a peer-reviewed, print journal dedicated to publishing a wide variety of high-quality manuscripts devoted to the understanding and prevention of genocide.
The first of the six articles examines a topic of great interest, but one which has seen little in the way of scholarly material: it examines state-induced famine and use of prisons as possible mechanisms of genocide—or, at least, massive human rights violations—in North Korea. Rhoda Howard-Hassmann examines the famine that took place from 1994 to 2000 which, she estimates, killed 3–5% of North Korea’s population. She notes that there appears to be “little recourse under international law to punish the perpetrators of state-induced famine.” Yet, she points out that it might fit some of the criteria of genocide under the United Nations Genocide Convention. Her conclusion looks at how strategic, political “concerns about North Korea’s nuclear weapons outweigh humanitarian concerns about North Korea’s citizens.”
Of course, there is nothing unusual in this state of affairs since political calculations always trump humanitarian concerns in international politics. In the second article, “A System, Society, and Community Perspective on Genocide,” Adrian M. Gallagher points out that genocide scholars often miss the point that the very definition of genocide is open to interpretation. Their perceptions are, he argues, warped by a view of the world which helps to explain the different perspectives. Gallagher then uses the “concepts of an international system, an international society, and an international community to demonstrate how one’s worldview holds implications for how one understands genocide.” These two articles are followed by two case studies: the first addresses the leadership of Roméo Dallaire in the UNAMIR mission to Rwanda and the next, the fourth in the volume, focuses on the 1965–1966 genocide in East Timor.
In “The True Measure of Success: The Leadership of Roméo Dallaire in the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda,” Sarah Devonshire evaluates Lieutenant General Dallaire’s actions prior to the beginning of the genocide. She concludes that his attempts to fulfill UNAMIR’s directives—“despite resistance on all sides”—disproves arguments that his failure of leadership “was a primary contributor to the outbreak of the Rwandan Genocide.” This is followed by an examination of mass murder in Indonesia and East Timor in the 1960s and 1970s. In “Foreshadowing Future Slaughter: From the Indonesian Killings of 1965–1966 to the 1974–1999 Genocide in East Timor,” Kai Thaler argues that the failure to stop the earlier mass killing in Indonesia allowed the “establishment of genocidal regimes that institutionalize genocide as a tactic of repression and power consolidation.” This was exactly what happened with the “New Order government of Indonesia, which committed mass killings of known and alleged Communists throughout Indonesia in 1965–1966 and later carried out a genocidal colonial occupation of East Timor.” He notes parallels between [End Page 145] the actors and tactics, and concludes that the “Indonesian case illustrates the necessity of punishment for genocide to preclude a culture of impunity that encourages both previous and new offenders.”
The fifth contribution to this joint issue shifts gears to examine psychological factors in the possible dissolution of human bonds which contribute to genocidal behaviors. In “Thy Brother’s Keeper? The Relationship between Social Distance and Dehumanization Intensity during Genocides,” Lisa Haagensen and Marnix Croes hypothesize that “the degree of social distance between the perpetrator group and the victim group prior to the outbreak of genocide is inversely related to the degree of dehumanization severity employed by the perpetrator group during...