Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Session D2 2: Signals of Genocide
Tuesday, 20/July/2021:
7:30pm - 9:00pm

Session Chair: Carse Ramos, Rhode Island College, United States of America
Location: Room 2


Guide on Responding to Genocide

Murad Ismael, Alexia Anne-Charlotte Rauen

Sinjar Academy, United States of America

The IS-perpetrated Yazidi Genocide that began in August 2014 led to the death of approximately 5,000 Yazidis and the kidnapping of around 6,800 women and children. The genocide continues into present day, with around 3,000 women still in IS custody, and many members of the Yazidi community unable or unwilling to return to their ancestral lands. Now over six years from the initial onset of the genocide, this guide will explore the lessons learned in the Yazidi case. The guide will cover the early indicators and immediate consequences of the genocidal attacks as well as recommendations for action and resistance for the targeted community. Mass captivity characterized the Yazidi experience; the guide offers strategies to avoid capture and possibilities for escape or rescue. Also covered is the need for advocacy and credible information dissemination from teams on the ground and teams operating remotely to potential interventionists. The guide further explores humanitarian advocacy, the need for documentation, and recommendations for dealing with mass grave exhumations. Rooted in the Yazidi experience, this guide will prove invaluable for those responding to future genocides and those wishing to better understand the Yazidi perspective. We would like to acknowledge the support of Kerry Propper as instrumental to this guide

Where Does the River Start?: Structural Genocide Prevention and Local Conflict ‘Triggers’

Emily Sample

George Mason University, United States of America

This presentation investigates local conflict ‘triggers’ within the context of structural genocide prevention. The physical violence we see manifested in mass atrocity events is embedded within systems of structural violence. This does not mean that these events are always predictable, as many social processes parallel the path to mass violence, but that in understanding potential ‘triggers’ we must focus on upstream prevention, not only early warning. The presentation analyzes structural conflict, as well as local understandings of conflict, in order to identify how both factors can fuel the perpetration of mass atrocities. Using a case study of Uganda, this presentation highlights potential local conflict triggers as responses to pressures, norms, and interlinking structural systems. This paper reflects on Bellamy’s (2016) concept of structural atrocity prevention, which argues, “by changing the social and political contexts to make them less permissive of atrocities we can change individual decisions about whether to perpetrate these crimes.” This presentation presents a dynamic picture of existing conflict by highlighting long- and short-term mass atrocity triggers, how these manifest in local contexts, and how this can inform intervention policy.


Christi Ann Yoder

Center for Genocide Research and Education, United States of America

The problem of what to label the events of 1972 in Burundi has vexed scholars for some time. Was it a double genocide? Or perhaps it was what Helen Fein refers to as a selective genocide. Regardless, the Tutsi-led Burundi government continues to deny they committed genocide, instead arguing they are the victims of genocide by the Hutu. This denial may play a role in why scholars are so conflicted about what to label the violence in 1972. Why is more not known about the events compared to the events in 1994 in Rwanda? We argue that the general public was less aware of Burundi's events in 1972 than events in 1994 Rwanda due to the level of media technology available at each time point. The less well-developed media technology in Burundi in 1972 has enabled the Burundi government to deny genocide occurred, whereas international attention in Rwanda did not leave this option open. We will explore media technology's role in the ability of perpetrators to deny genocide using Rwanda and Burundi as case studies.

Internet Shutdowns: A Growing Mass Atrocity Risk

Rob Scharf

Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, United States of America

Rapid and widespread global adoption has made the internet indispensable to contemporary mass atrocity prevention. Serving as both tools and indicators, online technologies work to increase transparency and democratize information, while providing spaces for people to gather and exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms. However, despite guarantees contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, inter alia, the number of government-ordered internet shutdowns around the world continues to increase each year.

Data published by digital rights groups reflect a total of 377 documented internet shutdowns between the years of 2016 and 2018. In 2019 alone, at least 213 shutdowns were enacted. The diversity of governments authorizing shutdowns grew as well, with internet access being blocked or restricted in 33 countries in 2019, compared to 25 in 2018. Shutdowns were also not limited to authoritarian states, with prominent incidents taking place in large democracies and countries undergoing democratic transitions.

This study will use a data-informed approach to examine the character of recent internet shutdowns through a variety of national and sub-national case studies, including Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ethiopia, India, Myanmar, Russia, Tanzania, Uganda, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, and others. These cases represent a variety of civic and political contexts, shutdown strategies, and justifications offered by decisionmakers, allowing for a broad comparative look at how the practice impacts atrocity prevention today.

The framework of risk factors conceived by Dr. James Waller will be employed as an analytical tool to identify specific ways in which internet shutdowns can exacerbate dynamics related to governance and social fragmentation that increase the likelihood of large-scale violence and human rights abuses. The text will also include a brief examination of recent, current, and pending legal challenges that have been made in response to the proliferation of internet shutdowns.