You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Gregory Stanton’ tag.

Corporate Social Responsibility

By SARAH EFRONSON and TIFERET UNTERMAN[1]

Around the globe, corporations are fulfilling what have traditionally been government functions. For example, in some countries they provide infrastructure and utilities, and in all countries they influence government’s international policy agendas. In fact, 51 of the world’s 100 largest economies are corporations and 80 percent of world industrial output is produced by only 1,000 corporations. Because of their ever-increasing global power, corporations have become central players in international affairs and necessary partners in efforts to prevent genocide. As such, governments should implement policies that further motivate corporations in this arena.

One way to focus corporations on prevention efforts is through the lens of corporate social responsibility. Broadly, corporate social responsibility means that corporations should manage their businesses in a way that not only maximizes profits but also contributes to the resolution of environmental and social problems. Increasingly, corporations are recognizing a responsibility not just to shareholders, but also to other stakeholders such as customers, investors, governments, and local communities.

Many are familiar with the application of corporate social responsibility to the extraction or procurement of “conflict resources,” or to the protection of the environment in the midst of oil pipeline construction. Less explored is the application of corporate social responsibility to the specific task of genocide prevention.

The goal is for corporations to apply a genocide prevention lens to business practices. They can begin by recognizing that genocide is a process, not an event, with identifiable transitions from the point of societal stability to the point when atrocities occur. Genocide scholars Barbara Harff and Gregory Stanton offer the most widely accepted risk assessment and stages model that outline what the genocidal process often looks like. These approaches provide indicators of a potential genocide, or a genocide that is in its very early stages. Harff recognizes the following risk factors for genocide: prior genocide in the same polity, autocracy, ethnic minority rule, political upheaval during war or revolution, exclusionary ideology, closure of borders to international trade, and discrimination. Stanton establishes the following stages of genocide: classification of the targeted group, symbolization, dehumanization, preparation, polarization, organization, extermination, and denial. In addition to these risk factors, resource scarcity and conflict are also recognized as common precursors to genocide.

Corporate social responsibility has a role to play both in genocide intervention (after violence has started to occur) and prevention (prior to the outbreak of violence), the latter being preferable and most effective. To accomplish this task, corporations must aim to reverse the factors that can lead to genocide by:

  • expanding the openness of markets,
  • involving a multiplicity of stakeholders in the target country,
  • increasing power-sharing among a diversity of political and social groups,
  • helping to unify, rather than disenfranchise, different social groups,
  • encouraging a more inclusive ideology through marketing and drawing on a diverse subcontractor base, and
  • working to limit monopolies while encouraging increased international trade.

Governments can assist corporations by adopting policies and laws that encourage, if not compel, them to act in accordance with the above. This may be accomplished through combining a voluntary/incentive-based approach with a regulation-based approach.

The key to the voluntary/ incentive approach is to promote genocide prevention as a profitable venture for corporations. This approach has been successfully implemented with respect to environmental protection. In the movement to “go green,” corporations profited through brand differentiation by selling their product as environmentally-friendly and having more efficient operations while complying with environmental concerns. The focus on environmental protection has also brought smaller businesses and subcontractors worldwide into better compliance with the environmental goals and policies of their larger corporate purchasers. Similarly, governments should encourage corporations to use their genocide prevention activities as a brand differentiator and promote research and education into how corporations will profit from said efforts.

Regulations should also be adopted to foster corporate involvement in preventive measures. One approach is to mandate that companies participate in corporate social responsibility. Such a regulation has been adopted under Article 5 of the Chinese Company Law, which requires companies to “undertake social responsibility” in the course of business. Another approach is to require companies to give funds to corporate social responsibility. In India, there is a proposal under consideration that would require large corporations to allot a percentage of their profits toward socially responsible initiatives. A third approach is a disclosure regulation such as the United States Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which requires companies to publicly disclose their use of conflict minerals that originated in the Democratic Republic of Congo or an adjoining country. As a result, companies like Intel and Apple have created auditing programs and aid projects to help Congo develop a clean minerals trade and tracing projects to identify problems in their supply chains.

Government regulations could include mandatory auditing and disclosure of company activities that directly contribute to known factors that could lead to genocide, such as whether a corporation’s activities are involved with closing a country’s borders to international trade. Although an international scheme to regulate corporate activities would be best, individual national legislation often leads to international cooperation.

A successful example that demonstrates the combined use of the voluntary/ incentive approach and the regulation approach is the 1986 United States Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, designed to undermine the apartheid regime then existent in South Africa while simultaneously bolstering interracial development. The Act prohibited future investments and trade in South Africa, leading to austere economic measures. At the same time, it encouraged procurement of goods from businesses that had more than 50 percent beneficial ownership by non-white South Africans and exempted the Export-Import Bank from a certification requirement to encourage it to export or import from such businesses. This law provided procurement incentives and stopped harmful corporate investments in apartheid. Furthermore, this Act also addressed ethnic minority rule — one of the aforementioned genocide risk factors.

Applying the corporate social responsibility concept to genocide prevention is a new idea. With very little written on the subject and very little data to understand trends, it is still a nascent concept. There are therefore many challenges to overcome, and questions that remain:

  • Oversight lapse: Self-reporting and voluntary fulfillment can lead to false claims and allows for corporations to appeal to consumers through branding as being socially responsible without meaningfully implementing genocide preventive measures.
  • Lack of education about genocide prevention: Corporate social responsibility as it relates to genocide prevention is a new concept and many corporations are unaware of its benefits. They may even foster genocidal conditions if they deem it to be economically beneficial.
  • No standard models to apply to genocide prevention efforts: Companies are more willing to adopt environmental and social policies and programs, since they have been previously modeled and can be replicated. But the novelty of corporate involvement in genocide prevention efforts means that new policies and programs need to be developed into replicable models.

In the international arena, states are no longer the only actor. Corporations have growing influence and are necessary partners with states in genocide prevention efforts. Corporate social responsibility has been successfully implemented in other fields and should be applied to genocide prevention as well. Governments have a vital role in incentivizing corporations to contribute to genocide prevention and should work to educate, regulate, and partner with corporations in genocide prevention efforts. Both governments and corporations should seize on this window of opportunity and cultivate positive steps to not just end genocide, but to stop it before the loss of life.

Image: industryplayer.com


[1] Sarah Efronson and Tiferet Unterman are law students participating in the Human Rights and Genocide Clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City. In this capacity, they were invited to present their research on corporate social responsibility and genocide prevention at the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation’s Raphael Lempkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention in Auschwitz, Poland in November 2012.

Advertisements
Pictured, left to right: Flaherty, Stanton, Akçam, and Rosenberg

Left to right: Professors Flaherty, Stanton, Akçam, and Rosenberg

By MARISSA GOLDFADEN

On 4 December, the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School presented a panel discussion entitled “Overcoming Genocide Denial.” Professor Martin Flaherty, the event’s moderator, gave the opening remarks.

The first panelist to speak was Dr. Gregory Stanton, founder and president of Genocide Watch. His talk focused on how to deny a genocide, as he notes that denial is the final stage of all genocides. Denial occurs both during and after a genocide, and triples the probability of further or future genocide. It also extends the crime of genocide to future generations of victims. Because of its prevalence, the tactics of genocide denial are predictable:

  1. Question and minimize the statistics.
  2. Attack the motivations of the truth-tellers.
  3. Claim that the deaths were inadvertent (i.e., as a result of famine, migration, or disease, not because of willful murder).
  4. Emphasize the strangeness of the victims.
  5. Rationalize the deaths as the result of tribal conflict.
  6. Blame “out of control” forces for committing the killings.
  7. Avoid antagonizing the genocidaires, who might walk out of “the peace process.”
  8. Justify denial in favor of current economic interests.
  9. Claim that the victims are receiving good treatment.
  10. Claim that what is going on doesn’t fit the definition of genocide.
  11. Blame the victims.
  12. Say that peace and reconciliation are more important than blaming people for genocide.

According to Dr. Stanton, there are ways to prevent denial, such as:

  • If the state that is committing the genocide (or in which it occurs) is not a State-Party to the Rome Treaty of the International Criminal Court, the UN Security Council should confer jurisdiction over the situation on the ICC.
  • If the genocidal regime has been overthrown, the UN should help the successor government form courts to try the perpetrators.

The next panelist to present was Professor Taner Akçam, who focused on Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide. He posits that one of the main reasons for this denial is that to acknowledge it would be to turn national heroes into villains. Another result of/hurdle to acknowledgement would be that Turkey would have to pay reparations. While state policy may differ from societal attitudes, the lie has gone on too long to simply reverse it and admit the truth–an entire society and culture has been built upon this secret/lie to the point of creating what Professor Akçam refers to as a “communicative reality.” The existence of the Turkish people has been contingent upon the non-existence of Armenians. [Read the full text of Professor Akçam’s presentation.] 

The third and final speaker was Professor Sheri Rosenberg. Her presentation was on her experiences with genocide denial in Rwanda. She started by saying that genocide denial impedes healing, reconciliation, and transitional justice. In Rwanda, where perpetrators live side by side with survivors, there are laws against genocide ideology, as well as against discrimination and sectarianism. The genocide ideology law is simultaneously retrospective and prospective but problematic in that it constricts the public space and suppresses meaningful dialogue. This, in turn, can have a negative effect on individual and group conceptions of identity.

After the panelists concluded, the floor was opened for a Q&A session. In discussing Europe and Holocaust denial laws, Dr. Stanton said he believes such laws in general create a problem by instantly opposing free speech. Moreover, they don’t make a distinction between incitement and having amorphous genocidal thoughts. The next topic was Turkey and Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which makes it illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish ethnicity, or Turkish government institutions. Professor Akçam said that if the United State acknowledged the Armenian Genocide, the problem would be solved in about three years because of the economic pressure that would be put on Turkey. Additionally, regional security must include historic injustices.

Another audience member asked about accountability for atrocities committed in Burma/Myanmar. That could be accomplished through the Alien Tort Statute,  a section of the United States Code that states, “The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” In other words, U.S. courts can hear human rights cases brought by foreign citizens for conduct committed outside the United States. Dr. Stanton ended the evening by saying that Iran should be brought in front of the International Court of Justice for “Direct and public incitement to commit genocide,” a punishable act under Article 3 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

By MARISSA GOLDFADEN

The Genocide Prevention Advisory Network recently issued a conference report from their advanced workshop at The Hague on March 14-15, 2012. Focusing on the emerging global and regional architectures aiming at the prevention of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, the conference addressed the following questions:

  • What guiding principles are emerging to shape the architecture and community of genocide prevention and its relevant fields?
  • What can GPANet offer to articulate those principles and strengthen these emerging capacities?
  • How can GPANet work in partnership to support and facilitate local, national, regional and international prevention networks?

The papers presented at the conference dealt with the topics of early warning and data gathering and verification systems, case studies on Somalia, linkages with terrorism, and lastly, perspectives on genocide prevention. This final subject is what we’ll focus on, given the work of AIPR.

Discussing Holocaust education and genocide prevention, Yehuda Bauer spoke of the “problematic” text of the Genocide Convention and the resultant inefficacy of the United Nations to prevent or halt instances of genocide post-World War II: two examples being Rwanda in 1994 and Sudan at present. Given the structure of the Security Council, geopolitical interests often trump those of the humanitarian variety. Moreover, Bauer argues that race and ethnicity are modern social constructs, given the singular origin of the human species. This leads to the common “us vs. them” framing that serves to precipitate genocide. All of this is compounded by the fact that, “There is a dialectical development one can discern in international politics, reflecting two contradictory global trends: a tendency towards greater unification on the one hand, and an opposing tendency towards greater autonomy and independence of ethnic and/or national groups on the other hand.”

Gregory Stanton, president of Genocide Watch and formulator of the Eight Stages of Genocide model, noted Genocide Watch’s early warning system and how “[r]apid response by regional alliances has prevented or stopped several genocides: in East Timor, Kosovo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia , and Sierra Leone.” He also spoke of the success of international tribunals and the creation of the ICC. Having worked against genocide for 30 years, Stanton says he has learned two things about genocide prevention. He states:

  1. The first lesson is the direct result of our own human incapacity to comprehend or feel sympathy for large groups of people halfway around the world. Because individuals cannot do that, we need permanent institutions established that will watch out for precursors of genocide, take action to prevent it, intervene to stop it, and arrest and prosecute those who commit it.
  2. The second lesson I have learned is that genocide prevention must start and be led by people from countries at risk. It cannot be led by an American organization in Washington, DC, led by a pacifist director, that is unwilling to advocate the use of force to stop genocide. Prevention must especially begin from the ground up in countries at risk of genocide. A true International Alliance to End Genocide can support such local efforts and create an international mass movement to end genocide.

Daniel Feierstein then offered “A Critique of the Hegemonic View of the Current Genocidal Conflicts: A Perspective from the Latin American Margin.” His understanding of genocide seeks to dismantle a simplistic “Good People vs. Bad People” scenario and instead puts forth a perspective where genocide is “a technology of power used very successfully to destroy and reorganize social relationships and identities.” He believes “this would be a better explanation of why it continues beyond our collective calls of ‘never again.'” He went on to point out three different initiatives as possible alternatives to the military intervention model:

1. The UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) Experience

Since the UNASUR Constitutive Treaty was signed on May 23, 2008, UNASUR has helped four countries in the region that have experienced the possibility of new violent conflicts: Bolivia (2008), Honduras (2009), Ecuador (2010), and the conflict between Colombia and Venezuela (2010). In each case there was a major crisis with strong potential to trigger atrocity crimes.

2. The Regional Fora on Genocide Prevention

Writes Feierstein, “The idea was to meet all the governments of a region to create an open exchange and debate on how to prevent possible genocidal conflicts. As every government is involved in the discussions, there is a possibility (only a possibility, but we should have little utopias, which are more possible to achieve than the big ones) that the real problems of the regions will appear. It is even possible that some approaches to resolve them will emerge, as there are few instances in which the governments are invited to debate on regional perspectives to analyze and prevent genocide.”

3. The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation

AIPR has organized several meetings with mid- and low-level representatives, with the idea that governments change but there are some kinds of officers who continue in their key positions as professionals and/or bureaucracy. The objective of the AIPR is to train those people in early warning and genocide prevention as a challenge for the future.

The  workshop concluded with a concept note by Alice Ackermann on emerging genocide prevention structures in Europe and Liberata Mulamula discussing the same in the context of the Great Lakes region of Africa.

Last Wednesday, Gregory Stanton, president of Genocide Watch, gave a public talk on genocide prevention at the University of Oregon School of Law’s Appropriate Dispute Resolution Center. The talk was held to mark the launch of an interdisciplinary initiative called Genocide and Mass Atrocities: Responsibility to Prevent, whose goal is to develop strategies to motivate citizens and governments to help prevent genocide and politicide. (A 104-minute video of the talk is available online, but much of it is unintelligible.)

In his talk, Stanton mentioned plans to add two stages to his existing model of genocide (Eight Stages of Genocide), originally conceived as a briefing paper at the U.S. State Department in 1996. However, due to the video’s poor sound, it was difficult to understand much more than that, so we contacted Stanton directly in order to learn more.

Stanton, who is also a research professor in genocide studies and prevention at George Mason University, was quick to give credit to the urging of a few thoughtful individuals, some of whom have taught genocide using his Eight Stages model for years.

In particular he named Alan Whitehorn, an Armenian genocide expert of the Royal Military College in Canada; Chris Scherrer, a teacher of genocide in Japan for many years; and Daniel Feierstein, an Argentinian genocide scholar, each of whom in different ways suggested the addition of more stages to the existing model. For instance, Scherrer’s suggestions would have resulted in an 11-stage model, while Whitehorn suggested that the leap from Symbolization to Dehumanization was too far, that Discrimination be added as an intermediary step, and that Preparation included too much.

As Stanton wrote in an e-mail: “I realized there are two types of preparation. One is preparation by the perpetrators—‘Planning (Conspiracy)’—for which I kept the name ‘Preparation.’ The other is the preparation of the victims through what [Whitehorn] called ‘Extreme Victimization,’ but which I prefer to call ‘Persecution,’ because that word is a direct descendant of Raphael Lemkin’s thinking about genocide as the most extreme form of persecution. That stage includes concentration of the victims into ghettoes, trial massacres, expropriation of their property forced displacement, etc. Both of these stages had previously been encompassed under ‘Preparation.’ ”

Stanton said he hopes to issue his new model officially later this year.

Image: Youtube.com

On September 13, Julius Malema, president of the African National Congress Youth League, was found guilty of hate speech for singing “Shoot the Boer,” an apartheid-era song. South African High Court Judge Collin Lamont ruled that singing the song was an incitement to commit murder against white farmers.

Malema has continually called for the nationalization of mines and the seizing of white-owned farmland. On September 10, he declared economic war on the “white minority,” claiming that there would be casualties, and that “they [white Boer farmers] are criminals, and they must be treated like that.

This and other developments have led Dr. Gregory Stanton of Genocide Watch to issue alerts regarding the status of whites in South Africa, using an eight-stage model of genocide he developed for the U.S. State Department in the 1990s. Stanton recently said the situation had progressed from Stage 5 (radicalization of leadership and use of hate propaganda) to Stage 6, actual preparation for genocide, including isolation of the target group into specific areas and the drawing up of death lists. In an August 20 statement, Stanton said 800,000 of the 3 million white Boer farmers were already “being forced into marginal land sites where they are denied food-aid by the regime.”

According to Stanton, it is not only Boer farmers who are at risk now, but all whites and women in South Africa. At Stage 6, according to Stanton’s model, “a Genocide Emergency must be declared” and preparations should begin for “armed international intervention.” Otherwise the target group should be offered “heavy assistance . . . to prepare for self-defense,” or “at least humanitarian assistance should be organized by the UN and private relief groups” for refugees.

Genocide Watch has listed Boer farmers as being at Stage 5 risk since 2002. On the current situation Stanton said, “Julius Malema must be removed as leader of the ANC youth league.”

Photo: dumirocks.wordpress.com

Today we present another guest preventer from Prof. Alex Hinton’s genocide prevention class at Rutgers–Newark:

Jade Adebo, Class of 2012, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Anthropology

When I heard about a class being offered on genocide prevention, I was skeptical. In my experience, classes on the subject of genocide usually focused almost entirely on the violence, devastation, and reconciliation efforts. If ever there was any talk of preventative measures, it was presented in a cynical way, as if every other option had been exhausted. The ever-present discussions and debates over definitions and autonomy of nations left me cynical and burned out. Why was it so necessary to argue about phrasing or over protected groups? Taking the Genocide Prevention class with Dr. Hinton, which was developed in association with AIPR, helped me to fully comprehend the differing dynamics and issues that need to be addressed if proper and effective intervention, and eventually prevention of genocide, can occur.

With all my prior knowledge in genocide studies through the broader scope of human rights, I always supported a change in the study of intervention, based on analyzing and understanding different dynamics within the culture and history of a given country or region. I disagreed with the Genocide Convention’s attempt to create a blanket definition that would dictate how preventative measures would be achieved. From the broader study of human rights, which is still newly accepted as a widespread right, the convention, in its rigid structure and language, assumes that human rights is an international basic human right. This was a discourse brought into many a discussion, and was addressed very well by Fred Schwartz, who referred not to the universality of human rights, but the universality of self-interest. This approach can be easily applied to mandates such as the Responsibility to Protect, or the early warning model.

As the course concluded, I was left with a better sense of direction as to what I personally could do in the area of genocide prevention, which had been the primary interest for my attempted major. The various speakers we had left me inspired and optimistic, particularly Sheri Rosenberg, Gregory Stanton, and Tibi Galis, all of whom were either political scientists or lawyers. Through them, I was able to see how much the legal aspect of genocide prevention ties in with the grassroots work and activism, giving me creative insights as to how my future pursuit of a legal career could still influence intervention, and ultimately prevention.

Twitter Updates