Example reading response for How Does Violence Occur week
Prompt: What step or steps can be taken to make protests less violent?
Collins and Nassauer both argue that to key factor in whether interactions turn violent or not is
whether a side overcomes the barrier of confrontational tension and fear in order to attack the
other, or if tension in the interaction is reduced, even if one side started with violent intentions.
One key factor inhibiting violence is a humanized vision of the other/opponent, which is why
people and governments dehumanize others to legitimize or justify violence (Eisner pp.53-4).
Nassauer (p.517) notes how important it is for police and protesters to understand the
“heterogeneity of the other group,” seeing them as individual other people, and not a faceless,
nameless mass. Understanding the other side as individuals can make communication easier and
avoid misunderstanding of intentions that can lead to fear.
Previous understanding of the other side or communication outside of the protest area makes this
easier. Another option is to try to ensure both sides are in ‘normal’ clothes or uniforms to make
the interaction less tense. While police may feel safer in riot gear, it makes them more
intimidating and less relatable, and while protesters may feel safer with masks in an age of video
surveillance and facial recognition technology, masks also make protesters seem scarier and not
individuals, but part of a crowd. Seeing the other side as individuals could reduce the likelihood
of police or protesters ‘piling on’ (Nassauer p.522) if someone fell down or was outnumbered.
Further Questions for Discussion
One question is whether the ability to humanize the other diminishes over time. If police and
protesters engage in repeated clashes, will it get more difficult to see each other as people, rather
Another question is what role weapons play in determining levels of tension and fear in an
interaction. Would protesters be more or less likely to use violence if they know police do not
have lethal weapons? Are police more likely to use force if they just have tear gas and rubber
bullets and think they will not kill anyone using them?
Mass Atrocities and
G LOBA L 1 9 7 : P EACE , CON F L I C T, A N D V I OL E NCE I N G LOBA L P E RSPEC TI VE
MARCH 2 , 2 0 2 0
P ROF ESSOR KA I M . T HA L E R
Today: Mass Atrocities and Humanitarian
• What are mass atrocities?
• How is genocide defined legally?
• Behavioral Variation in the Rwandan Genocide
• Mass Atrocities and Repetition: Indonesia and Timor Leste
• How should the international community respond to mass atrocities?
• Are international courts effective for justice or deterrence?
What are ‘mass atrocities’?
• Large-scale, systematic violence against civilian populations
• Not a legal definition
• Crimes against humanity
• “any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack
directed against any civilian population,” including murder, extermination, enslavement,
deportation, imprisonment, torture, rape and other gender-based or sex crimes), group-based
persecution, enforced disappearance, apartheid…(Rome Statute, 1998)
• Ethnic cleansing and forced removals
• Serious violations of international humanitarian law during conflict including attacks on
civilians, forcibly recruiting and using child soldiers, and destruction of educational and
Genocide: Legal and Political Debates
• Term coined by Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin
• UN Genocide Convention (1948)
• Genocide is the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical,
racial or religious group, as such, by
• Killing members of the group
• Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
• Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about
its physical destruction in whole or in part
• Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
• Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
• States must hold other states accountable, despite UN sovereignty
• Leaves out violence against political groups or sexual minorities
The Indonesian Killings
• Military and Western powers worried about growing communist strength in Indonesia
• Alleged coup attempt September 30, 1965 leading to military takeover
• Dehumanizing propaganda against PKI
• Military organizing population and helping direct mass violence
• Hundreds of thousands killed, widespread sexual violence and imprisonment
• Continued ‘anti-communist’ discrimination and propaganda
Timor Leste and Indonesia’s Occupation
• Portuguese colony due to decolonize politically in 1975
• Indonesia initiating destabilization campaign
• Full invasion after Fretilin declaration of independence
and appeal to UN
• Mass violence against civilians in invasion
• ‘Encirclement and annihilation’
• Mass starvation and ‘population control’
• Independence in 1999 despite continued Indonesian
Accountability Failures & West Papua Today
• No accountability in Indonesia and pattern of denial for 1965
• Survivors’ and relatives’ advocacy & ‘People’s Tribunal’ in 2015
• Limited show trials within Indonesia over Timor Leste violence
• Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Timor
• Limited political will for accountability in Indonesia or Timor
• Questions of utility when facing poverty and development needs
• Economic and political concerns
• Indonesian military acting similarly in West Papua today
Rwandan Genocide: Background
• Ethnic divisions between Hutu and Tutsi stemming from Belgian colonialism
• Tutsis in privileged colonial positions
• Hutus dominating military and politics post-independence
• Civil war in early 1990s between mostly-Tutsi RPF and Hutu-dominated government
• Ended in 1993 with power-sharing Arusha Accords
• President Habyarimana’s 1994 plane crash and Hutu Power seizing control
• Extremists at national and local level demonizing Tutsis and Twa as subhuman threats
• 500,000 Tutsis killed, 10,000 Twa killed, several hundred thousand moderate Hutus killed
• RPF invading to defeat government and stop genocide, but killed thousands of Hutus
Behavior in the Rwandan Genocide
• Local, individual behavior varies widely among people on ‘perpetrating’ side (Luft)
• Some Hutus were enthusiastic participants in violence, but many if not most weren’t
• People with economic resources could buy out from killing or save individual Tutsis
• People with close ties to Tutsi might try not to kill, but would if other killers around
them or if they’d seen resisters punished in the area and believed they’d be punished
• Dehumanization of Tutsis only came after starting to participate in killing
Humanitarian Intervention: Pros & Cons
• Humanitarian intervention: state or international coalition taking military action against
another state with publicly stated goal of ending human rights violations
• Not a legal definition
• What are the positive and negative sides of humanitarian intervention?
• Pros: stopping atrocities, protecting civilians, signal to governments, restabilization or
• Cons: politically-motivated rather than altruistic, can worsen situation, expensive, may
displace non-military solutions
• Chertoff’s four questions: “What is your strategy and your objective, do you have
clarity about that? What is your awareness of what the conditions in the place you’re
intervening in actually are? What are your capabilities and your willingness to be
committed to see things through to the end? And then, to what degree do you have
support from the international community?”
NATO Intervention in Bosnia
• No-fly zones and air campaign against Serbian military forces
• Ground forces to guard ‘safe zones’ after attacks on civilians
• Succeeded in stopping conflict and reducing atrocities
• But failure of peacekeepers to stop Srebenica massacre
Rwanda and Failures of Non/intervention
• International community had multiple warnings about likelihood of genocide
• UN peacekeeping force was reduced as violence was escalating
• Most NGOs pulled out
• Opération Turquoise: French military intervention on side of government
Libya and the Aftermath of Intervention
• Arab Spring protests in 2011 escalated to civil war after
• Gaddafi’s government turning air force on rebels, eastern
• UN resolution referring government to ICC and facilitating
• Failed ceasefires and rebels capturing power in late August,
killing Gaddafi in October
• But devolved into civil war after, continuing today
• Obama’s ‘biggest mistake’: “Probably failing to plan for the day
after, what I think was the right thing to do, in intervening in
Accountability & Justice after Mass Atrocities
• Nuremberg Trials and Eichmann trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity
• ICTY: first international tribunal since Nuremberg
• ICTR and gacaca: Rwanda’s mixed system for justice
ICC and Politics of Accountability
• Created with Rome Statute of 2002 to prosecute genocide,
crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crime of aggression
• 123 member states
• US and Russia signed treaty and then withdrew
• China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, others never
• 45 indictments, few convictions so far
• Kony, Bashir, Gaddafi, Gbagbo, and more
• African accusations of bias
• Failure to hold powerful countries accountable
Next week: Peacebuilding
• How can “enemies” be humanized during and after conflicts?
• How can actors try to bring conflicts to an end?
• How can sustainable peace be achieved after wars?
• What are the benefits and downsides of international peacekeeping and
• How can transitional justice and reconciliation efforts prevent future conflict?
Next class: Reading Group Discussion
Prompts for reading responses
• Genocide is an overused term, but is it still useful as a distinct legal and analytical category? Is there
something different or worse about mass atrocities aimed at members of an ethnic or religious, rather than
• If, as Rosenberg suggests, discriminatory forced displacement is an early warning sign of genocide, how
should international actors respond to try to prevent escalation to genocide?
• If we acknowledge that humanitarian interventions often serve the self-interests of interveners, rather
than being altruistic, can humanitarian intervention still be justified?
• People in Timor Leste worry that seeking accountability for Indonesian atrocities might have more costs
than benefits. Is it still worth it to try to bring perpetrators to justice?
• Submit 1-2 paragraph reading responses by 7pm tomorrow
• Address at least one prompt, referencing readings
• Pose new questions or issues for group discussion
Global 197 videos from lecture 3-2: Mass Atrocities and Humanitarian Intervention
Greg Shackleton report on eve of invasion by Indonesia, shortly before he and 4 other
Aussie journalists killed in invasion: https://youtu.be/ojS0B2WRS3o
Guardian video on Timorese decolonization and Indonesian occupation:
BBC 2 minute explainer on Srebenica massacre: https://youtu.be/ymf5p3LbCAE
Former UN peacekeeping commander Romeo Dallaire on lack of international response in
ICTY video on founding of tribunal: https://youtu.be/jfoqctgAz5M
Gacaca video on attempt at reconciliatory justice within Rwanda (includes images of skulls
of victims kept as memorial): https://youtu.be/DajmN6zQrGE
France 24 on failure of Gbagbo ICC trial: https://youtu.be/CxWkUiRZa80
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