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Wednesday, April 22 • 2:00pm - 2:20pm
“Acts of Genocide”: Broadening the Western Concept of Genocide for Non-Western Conflicts, the Cases of Darfur and Rwanda

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Genocide has been a controversial topic since its inception in 1944. Originally the construction of a single scholar, Raphael Lemkin, it has become a central concept in the analysis of many conflicts today. While variations off of Lemkin’s conceptualization abound, the international community typically uses the UN’s official definition of Genocide, written into the Convention of the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide in 1948. However, while this definition does cover a lot of Lemkin’s main points, the politics of the 1940’s prevailed in its formation, leading to a definition that leaves much to be accounted for. These issues range from whether cultural genocide is true genocide, if genocide is only a state crime or if it can be committed by non-state actors, and arguments about the choice of protected groups: racial, “ethnical”, religious, or cultural groups being the only ones protected. While these issues are varied, they share a central theme: Western concepts, as in group identity, definition of a “state”, and the illegitimacy of culture death. The roots of this Westernization is understandable when the construction of the Definition is analyzed. However, this Western construct is anachronistic which defies modern manifestations of genocide. This paper will analyze the Westernized construction of genocide and how it leads to the discounting of non-Western genocidal conflicts. This in turn leads to the lack of protection for groups currently experiencing an unrecognized genocide perpetrated against them, as well as allowing the orchestrators of the genocide to escape unpunished. This directly refutes the goals of the UN’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Using Rwanda and Darfur as case-studies, this paper contends that non-Western conflicts do not always fit into the constructed labels of the West.


Wednesday April 22, 2015 2:00pm - 2:20pm PDT
016 Karpen Hall