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Complexity Theory in Peacebuilding Initiatives & Mass Atrocity Prevention
A new take on the importance of locally owned peacebuilding initiatives by Dr. Cedric de Coning, who heads the Peace Operations and Peacebuilding Research Group at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), suggests a different approach to how international peacekeeping can ensure stability by helping spur self-starting, organically based peacebuilding efforts owned by local actors. Much of de Coning’s perspective is informed by complexity theory, or the study of how order, structure, and pattern arise from extremely complicated, apparently chaotic systems. According to de Coning, this theory can help shed light on the process of self-organization in societies where a variety of mechanisms and processes develop to manage peace processes. At the heart of this process in peacebuilding is bolstering the resiliency of social institutions, that is the ability of institutions to absorb and adapt to the internal and external shocks and setbacks they are likely to face. The author believes that “if a society is fragile it means that there is a risk that it may not be able to manage its own tensions, pressures, disputes, crisis and shocks without relapsing into violent conflict.” Institutional resiliency should be seen as a means conflict prevention that ought to be prioritized not only in peacebuilding operations, but also mass atrocity prevention efforts.
Given the importance of organically built institutional resilience in shielding post-conflict societies from shocks, a major function of external peacebuilding operations should be safeguarding, stimulating, facilitating and creating the space for societies to develop sustainable capacities for self-organization, according to de Coning. At the same time, peacebuilding operations must be mindful of the sensitivities of promoting a process of self-organization externally; too much external interference will undermine self-organization. The reason for this, as de Coning argues, is that external intervention removes the feedback loop that a system would otherwise need to help it self-organize, react and adapt to crises. Interventions often remove the need for a local social institution to react, thus depriving the local system from an opportunity to learn how to deal with such problems itself. Oftentimes peacebuilding and international assistance follow a linear logic; the more aid and resources thrown into a conflict setting, the more successful the operation will be. But complexity theory’s non-linear logic posits the opposite: that there is a point to which peacebuilding actually stops helping, and contributes to the very fragility it’s supposed to prevent. Case studies and past experiences demonstrate that externally-driven reform processes are not wholly sustainable.
Furthermore, de Coning believes many international peacebuilding operations too often impose their own culturally and historically informed versions of institutions, norms and models, which limits the room for locals to develop them based on their histories and cultural idiosyncrasies. Furthermore, peacebuilding operations usually underestimate the difficulties associated with transferring these institutions, norms and governance models to the local contexts. This is often combined with a inability to recognize how arduous, time-consuming and rife with challenges the process of rebuilding a state’s institutions is, as the process from fragility to stability is full of uncertainties. Peacebuilding experts would be wise to understand how their own histories and challenges in consolidating their own states’ institutions can help lend insight onto ongoing peacebuilding projects. As de Coning aptly states: “the art of peacebuilding thus lies in pursuing the appropriate balance between international support and home-grown context-specific solutions.”
The author’s focus on institutional resiliency is doubly important given the importance of strong institutions and rule of law in disincentivizing mass atrocities and localized violence in conflict prone settings. Likewise, the large overlap between the work being done in the mass atrocity/ genocide prevention community and the peacebuilding tends to be mutually reinforcing. The mass atrocity prevention community could certainly benefit from components of de Coning’s take on complexity theory. The transference of peace initiatives from international to local ownership is a trend more frequently advocated for in the conflict prevention community recently. Locally led reconciliation efforts in Kenya were instrumental in forestalling mass atrocities during the recent election cycle. Peace efforts in Nimba county, Liberia were more also successful once outside actors relinquished control and gave greater ownership of the process to local leaders. Local ownership of peace initiatives oftentimes gives more legitimacy to the process in the eyes of the locals, (as opposed to Western imposed mechanisms) as tribal leaders and elders already command the respect and trust of their communities.
Alternatively, in Bosnia, local reconciliation efforts were only able to take off when international and external actors consistently pressured and prodded local leaders. Similar difficulties with local ownership were found in Kosovo, where a push by international actors for greater local ownership of the peace process led to internal mistrust, corruption and ambiguity at the local level about how to proceed. There are dangers to ceding control of conflict prevention initiatives to local actors without looking over their shoulder. The proper balance, for both peacebuilding and mass atrocity prevention experts, probably lies somewhere in the middle where local ownership is coupled with international standards and oversight. It is important to view local ownership not as an‘ either/or’ question, but rather a careful balancing act that is mindful of the miscues associated with overreliance on external assistance as well as the lack of stewardship. While the motives of both external and domestic actors should be questioned throughout the process, sustainable peacebuilding requires both contributions from international and local actors united in achieving the same goals.
The following is the final entry in a three part series on Kenya’s 2013 general elections and their implications for similar mass atrocity prevention efforts moving forward. The peaceful Kenyan election this past March was hailed as a major victory for those working to prevent a repeat of the mass atrocities committed in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 elections. From the perspective of the mass atrocity prevention community, Kenya did a commendable job in upholding their responsibility to protect populations from mass atrocities. The international community also succeeded in assisting national and local authorities throughout this process. Thus, both fulfilled their 1st and 2nd pillar responsibilities under the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) framework, which are, accordingly: that a state must uphold its responsibility to protect its populations, and that if that state is unable to do so, the international community has an obligation to assist. Lessons learned from the 2007-2008 atrocities catalyzed both domestic and international momentum to proactively address the risk factors and causes of potential violence. But does the Kenyan case study represent a true shining example of successful R2P application, as well as a model for future applications in unstable democracies? Or were there unique circumstances germane to this case and/or a large overhype of the risks that make this atrocity prevention success not as generalizable a model as some may think?
A True Model of 1st and 2nd Pillar R2P or an Aberration?
Kenya was certainly seen as a resounding success within the mass atrocity prevention community, but what are the lessons and best practices that are logically transferable to similar cases where there’s risk for political violence? In terms of the risk of mass atrocities, Kenya was indeed a unique case for several main reasons. Kenya’s government was first of all deeply committed to avoiding the same pitfalls suffered during the last national election cycle, where over 1,000 were killed and 350,000 displaced. These events prompted a political crisis, subsequent ICC indictments and led to the rapid destruction of more than half of the country’s GDP. Following this, Nairobi engaged in massive reforms, local and national conflict mediation efforts and greatly enhanced its police presence prior to the elections. These efforts fostered a narrative for a national violence prevention agenda that had not been seen in Kenya during past election cycles, essentially laying a strong foundation for creating a culture of accountability aimed at dissuading the incitement of political violence. In these five years, Kenya actuated a multidimensional peace industry that involved cohorts and partners from all walks of life, all invested in the same goal. It’s hard expect such an effort to replicated elsewhere in Africa where lack of resources, institutional capacity and political will would probably be in short supply compared to the Kenyan case. The feasibility of implementing highly coordinated tech campaigns in the DRC or Somalia is practically impossible compared to doing so in Nairobi, also known as the “Silicon Savannah”, as the disparities with infrastructure, resources and outside assistance are stark. But while the individual building blocks of peace were positioned to succeed in the Kenyan case, that doesn’t mean the blueprint of what worked in Kenya can’t be utilized in similar cases.
Secondly, when advocating for mass atrocity prevention in nations where strong electoral management and effective governance are lacking, strong institutions are usually the first defense against fraud and instability. Kenya, who many see as a model for democracy amongst East African nations, had institutions that weren’t completely broken, but rather in serious need of fixing. In other fledgling democracies it may be hard to quickly repair and restore confidence in institutions in order to establish a foundation for a peaceful democratic process, that of which Kenya managed to achieve in a relatively short period of time. Thirdly, the main risk in Kenya was election-based violence, which means the roots of violence weren’t nearly as deep as other countries in the region like the DRC, Sudan, or Somalia, where mass atrocities are being committed in the context of civil wars and widespread militia-based fighting. A key wildcard in this case was the ICC’s involvement after the last general elections and the symbolic impact they had on dissuading violence. It’s easy to see that the Hague was a powerful antidote to violence in Kenya, just as it’s not in Khartoum.
Another factor that makes the model utilized in Kenya ungeneralizable to other R2P cases is that the Kenyan government was fully committed to atrocities prevention for a variety of reasons previously mentioned. Externally driven capacity building, robust civil society partnerships and various election observers were more than welcomed by Nairobi, which differentiates this from more classic R2P cases where atrocities are occurring in closed systems, like Syria or Sudan. Many allege that the general elections were a classic case of the dog that didn’t bark, and that over hype and exaggeration distorted the true risk of mass atrocities. It remains hard to prove how much of an effect various initiatives had on the risk of violence during the elections, which may render the exactitude of recommendations for future cases somewhat unclear. Whether there was over hype or not isn’t going to bug policymakers, citizens, or international investors when considering the alternative, inaction, but it does muddy the waters for the international community when seeking to replicate, with confidence, the ingredients of the Kenyan model. The Kenyan example was uniquely geared towards a strong possibility of peace, that doesn’t mean some of the preemptive efforts taken can’t be seen as a successful utilization of the R2P toolkit. Certain lessons in Kenya may be useful in helping assist unstable democracies where election violence is a serious concern, such as Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Mali in the short-term. The lessons and successes/failures in coordinating local early warning and response systems, pressuring political leaders to limit incitement, training indigenous media outlets to spread tolerance, and strengthening local capacities for peace, should be shared widely within the mass atrocity/ genocide prevention community.
Finally, part of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ norm requires governments and the international community to work to ensure sustainable peace by addressing the root causes of violence. In fact, the International Commission for Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) Report from 2001, one of the foundational documents of R2P, considered this to be the international community’s most important obligation. To think that root causes of Kenya’s past atrocities have been completely addressed because of one short-term success would be dangerous and irresponsible. It is the obligation of the international community to assist Kenya in addressing these root causes in order to ensure long-term mass atrocity prevention. As Kenya exhales after a tense several months, the international community must begin this process while consolidating on gains made in enhancing civil society capacities and institutional accountability, particularly the judiciary. Newly appointed President Kenyatta must work to further establish trust in the electoral process, carry out constitutional reforms, continue the ongoing process of national reconciliation, and build upon the peace industry that helped carry Kenyan society through the recent elections. Not capitalizing on Kenya’s short-term victories in mass atrocity prevention would not only tarnish the generalizability of lessons learned for future cases , but would also amount to a failure by neglecting lessons of the past.
Photo: AP Photo / Ben Curtis
By ANTHONY DiROSA
The following is the second entry in a three part series on Kenya’s 2013 general elections and their implications for similar mass atrocity prevention efforts moving forward. The peaceful Kenyan election this past March was hailed as a major victory for those working to prevent a repeat of the mass atrocities committed in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 elections. From the perspective of the mass atrocity prevention community, Kenya did a commendable job in upholding their responsibility to protect populations from mass atrocities. The international community also succeeded in assisting national and local authorities throughout this process. Thus, both fulfilled their 1st and 2nd pillar responsibilities under the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) framework, which are, accordingly: that a state must uphold its responsibility to protect its populations, and that if that state is unable to do so, the international community has an obligation to assist. Lessons learned from the 2007-2008 atrocities catalyzed both domestic and international momentum to proactively address the risk factors and causes of potential violence. But does the Kenyan case study represent a true shining example of successful R2P application, as well as a model for future applications in unstable democracies? Or were there unique circumstances germane to this case and/or a large overhype of the risks that make this atrocity prevention success not as generalizable a model as some may think?
Technology, Crowdsourcing and Social Media
Also imperative to note was the use of technology in the Kenyan case study; mass data-mining operations, the utilization of mobile communications and monitoring SMS messages for hate speech are illustrative of the innovative technological platforms that are currently expanding the mass atrocity/conflict prevention toolkit. International partners like TechChange, who teamed up with domestic crisis-mapping tech company Ushahidi, helped fill gaps in conflict prevention capacity by diligently monitoring the Kenyan elections using social media. Ushahidi used Crowdmapping to produce crisis maps, or visual data fed by on-the-ground monitors posting live updates via Twitter, SMS or online posts, which would then be geo-tagged by the system to reveal potential risk areas. As this data was aggregated, monitors could sift through it to identify reports of violence, hate speech, corruption and voter suppression and coordinate responders on the ground. Ushahidi’s work is emblematic of how crisis mapping and crowdsourcing technologies can be used to encourage transparency and accountability in elections, and ultimately reduce the chance of violence.
Early warning/ early response systems across the country, specifically in the Rift Valley, were some of the more replicable conflict prevention mechanisms employed, in terms of best practices and lessons learned for future cases. The USAID-funded Local Empowerment for Peace (LEAP) led the coordination of early warning/early response (EWER) in the Rift Valley, as they trained nearly 600 peace monitors on how to observe, report, and respond to signs of early warning/early response. Monitors would report to a vast network of first responders, which included civil society groups and local administration officials, including police forces. LEAP, along with Mercy Corps, Uchaguzi and Ushahidi, with support from the Canadian International Development Agency, worked in partnership to established two early warning hubs designed to respond to alerts from the monitors. The hubs were operated by data analysts and dispatchers who monitored the Uchaguzi platform, a hate-speech data-mining operation, as peace monitors also fed them information via cell phone. This effective example of partnering humanitarian agencies, civil society groups and tech-firms in joint conflict prevention and early warning/early response initiatives is a model that ought to be studied and replicated in the future.
Kenya’s government, specifically the Communications Commission, also led the way through innovative measures requiring screening of all short message service (SMS) texts for bulk dissemination by politicians. Kenya’s National Steering Committee on Media Monitoring took charge of identifying and reprimanding blogs with hateful and provocative material. New measures called on mobile companies to intercept any mass texts that may provoke violence. These were seen as reactionary policy measures intended to avoid what happened in 2007-08, when ethno-political hate messages were spread by political groups, leading directly to inter-ethnic violence. The suspension or censoring of mass communication technologies in conflict prone settings aren’t unique to Kenya, as SMS texts were suspended in the DRC in 2011, as well as Kashmir in 2012 and Egypt last year. International, domestic and local level efforts to curtail one of the main catalysts for violence in 2008, indigenous language media outlets, were also laudable. The media, mainly radio stations, were largely broadcasters of peace this time around, as commercial and government run stations were deeply involved in educating voters on the issues, focusing on civic education, preaching restraint and tolerance, and avoiding any and all political incitement. International media training agencies were involved in advising journalists on how to report critically without stirring up ethnic and sectarian tensions. Religious leaders also played a large role as conveyors of peace with messages of tolerance and respect aimed at their constituents. Although there were widespread criticisms and accusations that Kenya’s media engaged in self-censorship and failed to fulfill its watchdog role, it’s clear that given the alternative, the result should be deemed a success.
The next part of this Case Study for GenPrev series will focus on how the Kenyan model can be used in future R2P cases, and what the implications are for future atrocity prevention efforts.
Photo: The New York Times
Last week, Kai Brand-Jacobsen (pictured here), director of the Department of Peace Operations at the Peace Action Training and Research Institute of Romania (PATRIR), gave a presentation titled Preventing War, Violence and Genocide: Critical New Approaches to Making Prevention Work. The event was jointly organized by Global Action to Prevent War and Armed Conflict, the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (UNDP), the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung New York, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict Issues of the British Parliament, and PATRIR’s Department of Peace Operations.
Brief introductory remarks were given by Dr. Robert Zuber, Chetan Kumar, and Volker Lehmann. The three spoke of the need for women, indigenous peoples, and other marginalized groups to be included in the capacity for prevention. They emphasized that we need to be attentive to smoke so as to not have to put out as many fires. They went on to discuss how conflict and intervention have changed as a result of boundaries and borders, climate changes, and rapid change. Rapid change requires rapid response, not allowing time for discussion, which can in turn lead to further conflict. Therefore there need to be standing structures and institutions—traditional (such as parliaments and police forces), those designated to manage conflict, such as the Ghana National Peace Council, and those at the national or local level. Inclusive participatory planning is a key aspect of prevention and moving beyond the short term, from intervention to accompaniment.
Brand-Jacobsen opened his presentation by using statistics to discuss why prevention matters. Over the last 40 years, there has been a “decrease” in war but a 45 percent increase in violence—more than 4,000 people per day die as a result of it, over 90 percent of whom live in low- and middle-income countries. Of those 4,000, approximately 2,300 commit suicide and 1,500 die due to injuries inflicted by someone else. Between 1990 and 2005, armed conflicts in Africa cost $284 billion. 740,000 people die every year as a result of armed violence, the majority occurring outside war zones. The average cost of a civil war is $65 to 125 billion and the global cost of homicides is $95 to 160 billion. Africa loses $18 billion per year due to wars, civil wars, and insurgencies.
Armed violence is defined as the intentional, threatened, or actual use of arms to inflict death or injury, and can occur within the contexts of both war and non-war. Armed violence during war can lead to genocide, mass atrocities, and the killing of civilians. But the impact of armed violence is greater than resultant armed conflict, as it also causes large-scale criminal activity, as well as inter-personal and gender-based violence. However, conflict should not be equated with violence, as the former can exist before and/or after the latter. In fact, global processes have made it so factors can be identified before a conflict becomes violent, namely conditions and structural factors for early warning.
The talk then segued into early warning and conflict intelligence. There are various conflict phases and intervention types and a crucial link between warning and response. Brand-Jacobsen stated that political will needs to be created, and emphasized training and learning, and integrated levels of conflict analysis—local, national, regional, and international/global. A key resource in this area is “Preventing Violence, War and State Collapse: The Future of Conflict Early Warning and Response.” Early warning systems should not stand alone, but be incorporated into existing systems.
The next section of the presentation focused on prevention, the “how” of which can be broken down into three categories: primary prevention, structural prevention (measures to ensure that crises do not arise in the first place or, if they do, that they do not recur), and operational prevention (measures applicable in the face of immediate crisis). The “when” is 1) always/standing and 2) operational, which includes the time not only before a crisis, but also during it. Ultimately, peacebuilding + peacemaking + peacebuilding = prevention. In order to develop an infrastructure for peace, reconciliation must be included under the heading of prevention to overcome entrenched ideologies and interests.
This week on GenPrev in the Classroom, we are excited to take a look at the degree-granting graduate studies in genocide offered via Rutgers University’s Center for the Study of Genocide, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights, located on the Newark, NJ campus.
I envisioned this post as a very brief Q & A on a graduate-level genocide studies program, but it made more sense in the case of Rutgers to explore what made the program unique. For instance, Rutgers University offers a course actually entitled “Genocide Prevention.” Verbalizing why it is so special to have a university course available at all that is called “genocide prevention” took far longer than expected. My theory is that it is because Rutgers has the only Ph.D. program available for Global Issues as opposed to International Issues.
There are some texts for sale with the phrase “genocide prevention,” and briefings, discussions, or protests but very few courses. A few clarifications should be made about this matter before we delve further into the wonderful programs that Rutgers offers.
genocide prevention : genocide studies :: activism : academia
The category of this post is “GenPrev in the Classroom,” but it would be more accurate to call it “genocide studies in the classroom.” The anxiety about this discrepancy is not overwhelming, because in all likelihood the effective study of genocide at any educational level (even as early as grade school) instills in students some motivation to help prevent it if possible.
This might be another one of those distinctions that seem obvious and instinctive for others, but in case anyone was wondering, there is an imperfect overlap between activism and academia. The burning question in my mind after a few weeks of writing exclusively about genocide prevention was why I had never heard of a doctoral program in genocide prevention, or even a college level course devoted to it.
I thought that it was probably too specialized and thus collapsed into syllabi for more general courses on human rights, international studies, public policy, or mass atrocities. When I found degree-granting graduate-level programs in genocide studies, I looked for the phrase “genocide prevention” in the course lists and almost never encountered it, not even in the descriptions. Did the phrase “genocide prevention” just not exist in academia? If so, why not?
As we established last week, multiple Ph.D. programs for “genocide studies” exist. Even in the lists of core and elective courses in the graduate programs, however, I almost never saw the phrase “genocide prevention.” It soon became clear that Rutgers offers, to the best of my knowledge, the only recurring, non-military-affiliated, university-level course in genocide prevention. Why is this the case?
I asked my old human rights professor about this, and her reply amounted to,
“Your question makes no sense because that is not how major research universities work. Academic research is not activism. Graduate programs are not centers or institutes or working groups for this reason.The aim of a liberal education is not to train people to do a particular job in the world but to help build the critical-thinking capacity and flexibility in students to tackle any problem as they encounter it, drawing upon all of the relevant resources available to them. Specific historical and contemporary cases are often used as teaching examples within university courses, but no particular piece of knowledge is considered absolutelynecessary.”
Of course she has a point. Of course even someone with a Ph.D. in genocide studies may never have gone through a professional training program such as the ones offered by the Auschwitz Institute or the UN Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide for acting government officials. Academic research and the practical prevention of genocide are two separate endeavors. We can expect graduates of genocide studies programs to hold their own in theoretical discussions, but unless they have the extracurricular experience to back themselves up, there is no reason to assume that they are also trained activists.
So this blog is about genocide prevention, and there is an important difference between genocide prevention and genocide studies. Genocide studies require academic research in a specific field of inquiry (possibly in the proverbial ivory tower), while genocide prevention requires activism in the real world. There is a great likelihood of some overlap and cross-fertilization between the two endeavors at various points in time, with academics becoming activists or activists becoming academics. But there is no guarantee that a student of genocide will become a genocide prevention activist, and vice versa.
I am not the first person to be puzzled or worried by this phenomenon. This abstract of the annual Salzburg Global Seminar called The Global Prevention of Genocide: Learning From the Holocaust, which was first offered in 2010, encapsulates the essence of what I had been seeing and being bothered by instinctively but not verbalizing well enough:
“Today, many states have recognized the importance of teaching about the Holocaust and using it as a mechanism for preventing racism, ethnic conflict, and genocide. There are a growing number of state mandates, as well as impressive private initiatives, that seek to achieve this. Nevertheless, at the classroom level few schools or universities have actually succeeded in implementing Holocaust education programs that link the history of the Holocaust with the contemporary prevention of racism and genocide. This failure is exacerbated by the continuing divide and lack of communication between individuals and organizations working in the fields of Holocaust studies, and those working in the area of genocide prevention. The aim of the Salzburg Global Seminar’s project is, therefore, to make the prevention of genocide a central part of Holocaust education curricula.”
That being said, Rutgers University has one of the only courses, if not the only course specifically called “Genocide Prevention,” and aims to connect the academic study of genocide with the movement aimed at preventing it. Here is the syllabus.
1. What types of graduate-level degrees are offered in the field of genocide studies at Rutgers?
The Center for the Study of Genocide, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights, together with the Division of Global Affairs, a doctoral program ranked fifth nationally in international affairs and development, offers a Master of Science in Global Affairs with a concentration in genocide, political violence, or human rights. One may also focus on genocide and human rights issues while completing a Ph.D. in the Division of Global Affairs.
2. What makes Rutgers’s Ph.D. program unique?
Rutgers has the only Ph.D. program in “Global Affairs,” as opposed to “International Affairs,” and offers one of the only courses in the country actually titled “genocide prevention.”
3. There are so many “international relations” or “international affairs” programs. What is the difference between “global affairs” and “international affairs”?
“International affairs” has to do with relationships between nations, while “global affairs” pertains more generally to the whole world. Like hunger. Or war. It is about the big problems of humanity that transcend and permeate nations and their boundaries. Genocide is also such a problem. An easy way to think of this is that even if the world could be united under a global hegemon tomorrow, he or she would still have to deal with these big, global problems.
4. What can a “global” approach to the problem of contemporary genocide bring to the table that an “international” approach does not?
Starting a discussion by framing genocide as a contemporary global issue or problem immediately focuses attention on genocide as a current, ongoing phenomenon. It is like telling someone that they have caught on fire. What did we learn in elementary school? Stop, drop, and roll. The first logical response is, “Can we fix or stop genocide?”
But to make another, this time biological metaphor, it is easier and far less expensive to prevent obesity than to try and cure it after the symptoms have set in. For obesity prevention, one can eat right and exercise regularly. So the most efficient solution to the problem of genocide is probably prevention. It’s literally only a two- or three-step thought process to even get to the idea of prevention. Fire –> Ending –> Preventing
5. So is it a coincidence that one of the only places one can find a course specifically on genocide prevention at the graduate level is the same place that offers the only Ph.D. program in Global Affairs?
Probably not. There must be something about the international (literally, “between nations”) approach to the study of genocide that can make it a long and difficult journey to the phrase “genocide prevention” to pop up in one’s head. One could go through an entire Ph.D. program on genocide studies without even touching upon how to preventcontemporary genocide. One could focus entirely on past genocides—which is not surprising, because while genocide studies is by its nature interdisciplinary and interdepartmental (history, law, anthropology, political science, sociology, anthropology, psychology, public policy, humanities, are just some of the departments that come to mind), many of the genocide studies programs unsurprisingly arose from the historical study of the Holocaust. As soon as you get that many academics into a room, the language gets increasingly abstract. Using phrases such as “mass atrocities” instead of “genocide,” or “conflict prevention” instead of “genocide prevention,” would be examples.