Understanding U.N Failures in Preventing Genocide

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Understanding U.N Failures in Preventing Genocide

Josiah Thomas

PSC 250

Professor Rifai

12/1/11

Table of Contents

1. Understanding U.N Failures in Preventing Genocide

Introduction.........................................................................................................................3

Genocide in Bosnia..............................................................................................................4

Genocide in Rwanda............................................................................................................6

3. Why Has The United Nations Failed In Preventing Genocide?

Legal obligations of United Nations in Genocide intervention...........................................6

Legal limitations of United Nations intervention in Genocide............................................7

The Problem with defining Genocide..................................................................................9

Structural causes for the limitations of United Nations intervention in genocide...............9

Are individual state interests at play within the Security Council? ..................................10

Does state interest within the Security Council affect U.N. effectiveness in preventing..13 genocide?

The Security Council’s (lack of) support for passed Resolutions......................................13

Communication failures as a cause of U.N failure in preventing genocide.......................15 4. Conclusion

Understanding U.N Failures in Preventing Genocide

Introduction

The word genocide was coined by Raphael Lemkin in his 1944 book, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, while the holocaust was still occurring in Germany. The word comes from the Greek word "genos" meaning race or tribe and the Latin "cide" which means killing (Martin). After the tragic events of WWII, the major powers of the world, along with many others, were tired of fighting. In order to, “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” 51 countries came together to form the United Nations (U.N) which has committed itself to the pursuit and promotion of global peace, security, and friendly relations among countries along with social progress and human rights. Genocide and its prevention were on the United Nations agenda from its foundation. In its initial session in 1946 the General assembly adopted Resolution 96(1) stating that genocide results in great losses to humanity and is contrary to moral law and to the spirit and aims of the United Nations. Two years later, on December 9, 1948, the United Nations general assembly adopted The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide as General Assembly Resolution 260 (Schabas). The convention confirmed that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which the UN would undertake to prevent and to punish. With this Resolution the United Nations is showed that it is devoted to preventing genocide and punishing those who commit it. But how well have they actually been able to uphold this promise? Throughout the years many critics of the U.N have argued that it has failed to act effectively in genocidal situations. For example, between 1992-1995 Bosnian Wars, there were an estimated 200,000 predominantly Muslim Bosnians casualties. In 1994 an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed by civilians and soldiers in a brutal massacre (Glazer). How were acts such as these able to happen with an organization like the United Nations in place to prevent those exact events? In this paper we will examine this question by taking particular interest in the events that elapsed in Bosnia and Rwanda and by focusing on the internal workings of the United Nations itself. What we will discover is that...
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