Causes of Genocide

25/11/2014 00:02

There are a number of different causes of genocides, the most prominent being hatred of one group by another. All the genocides that have occurred have mainly been a result of one group resenting another to the extent of annihilation of that group.  Hatred alone is not justifying enough for one person to take the life of another. One of the fundamental human rights that every human being is entitled to; is the right to personal security, and one can make the argument that the right to personal security in this case is correlated to the right to life. If one is denied the right to life, his/her right to personal security is compromised. 

The holocaust, which occurred during the Second World War, robbed six million people of their lives, at the hands of the autocratic Nazis. The extermination of six million people with no astounding reasons, other than hate is not only ridiculous, but also an extreme criminal act that deserves punishment. It is wrong for people in positions of power to act out of malice, because not only are they acting above the law; but they also violate some of the most fundamental human rights. The Bosnia and Rwanda genocides are other examples of vicious conflicts that led to the death of many innocent people, just because two groups of people couldn’t coexist.

International law has betrayed these innocent victims, because the law was not strong enough to protect them or punish the criminal actors. The bodies responsible for implementing this law have also often watched behind closed doors as these tragedies unfolded. It is not enough for the world to acknowledge these genocides, and shake heads in empathy.  

International law has to be fully exploited to bring genocide perpetrators to trial. This accounts for one of the main problems as to why genocides persisted in the 20th century. If there is ever a situation where those in power are above the law, then there is definitely going to be a violation of human rights. The Nazis, Turkish, Serbs and Hutus all acted above the law when they decided that the minority groups in their countries were not worth preserving. This is why international law is needed as a strong backbone by which standards of human conduct are drawn. 

It is not enough for the criminals to offer apologies to their victims, as was the case in Turkey where the government apologized to the Armenians for the harm caused. This doesn’t suffice in any way, because apologies are not a deterrent for future genocides. In Bosnia and Herzegovina v Serbia and Montenegro, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that although Serbia had committed violent acts against the Bosnians, they had not intended to wipe out the entire group[1].  

The outcome of this hearing is shocking, since it’s clear that this was indeed genocide, and the Serbs really did intend to exterminate the Bosnians. The Serb President at the time Radovan Karadzic stated “Serbs and Muslims are like cats and dogs. They cannot live together in peace. It is impossible.”[2] This proves motive for the Serbs to possibly want to eliminate the Bosnian Muslims.

Because genocide offenders usually get away with their criminal conduct, it makes genocides forgettable and easy to repeat. The Armenian genocide of 1915 has often been overshadowed by other genocides, and people barely speak of it, let alone comprehend how horrible this event was. Hitler himself claimed “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”[3] This forgotten genocide led to the death of over one million Armenians by the Turkish government that wanted to exterminate this innocent minority group of people. 

Hitler used this as a winning argument in quest to exterminate the Jews and other minorities in German, because he thought no one would even care, or remember this event. Other people killed during the holocaust include: the poles, gay men, the disabled, the Romani, soviet civilians and prisoners of war, and all people from opposing religious and political beliefs. The fact that one can be stripped of his or her right to life, just because he or she belongs to a minority group or acts different from society norms and beliefs is atrocious.

When people go against the law and nature and try to end another person’s life, just because he/she is different, those people deserve punishment because no one should hold the end the life of another based on hatred. Every person has a right not to be killed against his will, because they have a right to life, and this right is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[4]. Additionally, every human being also has a right to belong to whatever group, tribe, and culture that he/she chooses to belong to. 

Everyone has the freedom to choose what groups or religions to partake in or fellowship with[5]. Therefore, for some people to feel this outright entitlement to get rid of another group just because they hold different beliefs and values is ridiculous. International law should be put to work to protect people from such obnoxious segregations. If it is not being used to prevent such outrageous people from committing acts against human nature, then it shouldn’t exist at all. The point of having international bodies like the United Nations (UN), the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the International Criminal Court (ICC) is for those bodies to protect the rest of society from dangers like genocides, wars, terrorism, or provide a way out when such things happen.



[3] Genocide and Human Rights: A Global Anthology Edited with an introduction by Jack Nusan Porter.

[4] Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person (http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/ accessed on July 24 2009 at 12:51 pm)

[5] Article 2: