Posted by jim in on Jun 21st 2017 | 0 comment(s)

The US Federal Judicial Center recently published International Human Rights Litigation: A Guide for Judges.  This Guide was written to assist federal judges in managing and resolving federal cases involving international human rights claims, and it provides a comprehensive analysis of all substantive and procedural issues involved.  A detailed analysis is provided on the Alien Tort Statute, Torture Victim Protection Act, and other federal statutes.  The book also includes a model scheduling order for human rights cases as well as case summaries, tables, and research references, current as of Dec 31, 2016.

The Guide was drafted to be neutral as between human rights plaintiffs and defendants, and thus should provide useful information for all.  Because it was commissioned by a federal government agency (the FJC) for the benefit of federal judges, lawyers, and agencies, the Guide has been placed in the public domain and is available as a free resource.  Readers can freely distribute, print, and otherwise use and transmit the Guide in its present form, provided that no changes are made to the manuscript itself.  You can find and download the Guide by searching on the FJC website or via this link to the author’s SSRN site (Abstract ID # 2978170).

   Recommended citation: David Nersessian, International Human Rights Litigation: A Guide for Judges 1-178 (Federal Judicial Center 2016). 

David L. Nersessian, JD, D Phil (Oxon)

Assistant Professor

Babson College – Accounting & Law Division 

Posted by jim in on Mar 7th 2017 | 0 comment(s)

The International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (A Division of the Zoryan Institute) hosts an annual 2-week, intensive course in partnership with the University of Toronto. The Genocide and Human Rights University Program is entering its 16th year of operation as one of the Institute’s most rewarding initiatives to further education, help raise genocide awareness and advancing the cause of prevention and promote the study of human rights. Over 400 students have graduated from the course, and over 40 renowned specialized scholars have participated as instructors in this program, including IAGS President, Professor Andrew Woolford, former President, Professor Joyce Apsel and Vice-President, Professor Elisa von Joeden-Forgey.

The program uses a comparative approach to understand the many complexities surrounding genocide, and incorporates subjects such as genocide theory, sociology, political science, anthropology, international law, history, and psychology. Through fostering dialogue, historical analysis and education, GHRUP provides the essential training to develop a new generation of scholars to engage in research and publication in this field.


 Click on the following link for program details:


Posted by jim in on Feb 6th 2017 | 0 comment(s)

Recently, I asked members of the IAGS community who teach in the field of Genocide Studies and related areas to submit course descriptions, lists of readings, and syllabi to the IAGS blog.  The IAGS blog is an appropriate platform to share such resources.  Those new to teaching Genocide Studies as well as those of us who have been teaching in the field for some time can only benefit from a broad and rich resource such as ours.  Please consider sending your material to me at blog@genocidestudies.org.  Professor Jobb Arnold's syllabus is posted below.

Menno Simons College

In association with The University of Winnipeg

Course Syllabus

Genocide, War and Conflict



Instructor.............. Dr. Jobb Arnold

Course Description:

War and genocide are terms used to express some of the most extreme and complex manifestations of

deadly conflict. These instances are not inscrutable nor are they inevitable. In this course students will

be introduced to foundational texts on the topics of both war and genocide. We will examine the root

causes, social dimensions and psychological impacts of these phenomenon drawing on

multidisciplinary perspectives from sociology, anthropology, psychology as well as genocide studies.

The purpose of the course is not to provide an exhaustive account of different wars and genocides or to

offer definitive answers regarding the nature of their occurrence. Rather, the readings will highlight

salient features, patterns and logics that manifest across diverse contexts meant to inform students

understanding of threshold scenarios within the field of conflict studies.

The class format will include lectures, discussion, small group interaction, and films, with the goal of

working as a learning community. Students are expected to do considerable reading and reflection, and

actively engage in class activities. Informed participation is a significant course evaluation factor.

Much of the material we will be covering is of a difficult and disturbing nature and if students find this

triggering, they are encouraged to access supports as needed either through the instructor or campus


Required Text:

Harald Welzer. Climate wars: Why people will be killed in the 21st century. (London: Polity Press,


*All other required readings will be provided online through Nexus.


Course Topics

Note: This is a tentative outline and schedule of topics to be covered. Some topics and readings may be

omitted and others may be added.

Sept. 7: Introductory Discussion

Week 1: Setting the Parameters of the Topics

Sept. 12:

• Carl Von Clausewitz, “What is War?” in On war. trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret.

(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974): 75-94.


• Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, “Insurgency and counterinsurgency” in Counterinsurgency.

(Washington: Department of the Army, 2006): 1-24.

Sept. 14:

• Raphael Lemkin, “Genocide – A new term and new conception for destruction of nations.” In,

Axes rule in occupied Europe: Proposals for redress. (New Jersey: The Law Book, [1944]

2008): 179-93.

• Greg H. Stanton. The eight stages of genocide, (United States State Department Briefing Paper,

1996) http://www.genocidewatch.org/aboutgenocide/8stagesofgenocide.html

Week 2: Pre-conditions for violence

Sept 19:

• Ervin Staub. “Cultural-societal roots of violence: The examples of genocidal violence and of

contemporary youth violence in the United States.” American Psychologist. Vol.1, No. 2

(1996): 117-132.


• Martin Shaw. “The General Hybridity of War and Genocide.” Journal of Genocide Research.

Vol. 9 No. 3 (2007): 461-73.

Sept 21: NO CLASS

Sept 26: Week 3: On Killing

• Lt.Col. Dave Grossman, “Killing and the existence of resistance: A world of virgins studying

sex.” On killing: The psychological cost of learning to kill in war and society. (New York: Back

Bay Books, 1996): 1-37.



• Jean Hatzfield, Machete Season: The killers in Rwanda speak. (New York: Farrar, Straus and

Giroux, 2005).

Sept 28:

• Rudolf Höss, “The final solution of the Jewish question in concentration camp Auschwitz.”

Death Dealer: The memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz (New York: Da Capo Press,

1996): 27-48.


• Alexander Laban Hinton, “Why did you kill?: The Cambodian Genocide and the dark side of

face and honor.” The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 57, No. 1 (1998): 93-122.

Week 4: Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region of Africa

Oct. 3:

• René Lemarchand, “Rwanda: The state of research.” Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence,

[online], published on 27 May 2013, http://www.massviolence.org/RWANDA-THE-STATEOF-RESEARCH,742.


• Jean Hatzfield, Life Laid Bare: The survivors in Rwanda speak. (trans.) Linda Coverdale. (New

York: Other Press, 2007).

Oct. 5:

• Lee Ann Fuji, Killing neighbors: Webs of violence in Rwanda, (Cornell University Press: Ithica,



• Scott Straus. “Local dynamics.” In, The order of Genocide: Race, power, and war in Rwanda,

(Cornell University Press: Ithica, 2006): 65-95.

**October 9th -15th Reading Week – No Classes**

Week 5: The Shoah / Holocaust

Oct. 17:

• Raul Hilberg, “The structure of destruction.” in, The destruction of the European Jews (New

Haven: Yale University Press, 1985): 49-51.

• Raphael Lemkin, “German occupation.” In, Axes rule in occupied Europe: Proposals for

redress. (New Jersey: The Law Book, [1944] 2008).


Oct. 19:

• Zygmunt Bauman. “The ethics of obedience (reading Milgram).” In, Modernity and the

Holocaust. (Ithica: Cornell University Press, 1989): 151-166.


• Christopher R. Browning, “Ordinary men.” In Ordinary men: Reserve police battalion 101 and

the final solution in Poland. (New York: Harper Collins, 1992): 159-189.

Week 6: Colonial Genocide and Indigenous Peoples **Geraldine Shingoose***

Oct. 24:

• Andrea Smith, “Sexual Violence as a Tool of Genocide” in Conquest: Sexual Violence and

American Indian Genocide (New York: South End Press, 2005): 7-35.


• Patrick Wolf, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,” Journal of Genocide

Research, No. 8 Vol. 4 (2006): 387-409.

Oct 26:

• Andrew Woolford. Ontological Destruction: Genocide and Canadian Aboriginal Peoples.

Genocide Studies and Prevention 4, No.1 (2009): 81–97.

• Phil Fontaine and Bernie Farber, What Canada committed against First Nations was genocide.

The UN should recognize ithttp://media.knet.ca/node/22677


• Christopher Powell, “What do genocides kill? A relational conception of genocide,” Journal of

Genocide Research, Vol. 9, 4 (2007): 527–547.

Week 7: Cultural Genocide

Oct. 31:

• “Introduction.” In, Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final

Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (Library and Archives Canada

Cataloguing in Publication, 2015): 1-29.


• Elisa Novick, “Physical-biological or socio-cultural ‘destruction’ in genocide? Unravelling the

legal underpinnings of conflicting interpretations.” Journal of Genocide Research, Vol. 17, No.

1, (2015): 63–82.

** Nov. 1st FINAL DATE to withdraw without academic penalty from courses which begin in

September and end in December of the 2016 Fall Term **


Nov. 2:

• Robert van Krieken. “Rethinking cultural genocide: Aboriginal child removal and settler

colonial state formation.” Oceania, 75 (2004): 125-153.


• Lars Berster. “The alleged non-existence of cultural genocide: A response to the Croatia v.

Serbia judgment.” Journal of International Criminal Justice, 13 (2015): 677-692

Week 8: Environmental Pressures and Ecocide

Nov. 7:

• Martin Crook and Damien Short, “Marx, Lemkin and the genocide–ecocide nexus,” The

International Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 18, No. 3 (2014): 298-319


• Jennifer Huseman and Damian Short, “‘A slow industrial genocide’: tar sands and the

indigenous peoples of northern Alberta.” The International Journal of Human Rights Vol.16,

No.1 (2012): 216-237.

Nov. 9:

• Valerie Percival and Thomas Homer-Dixon, “Environmental scarcity and violent conflict: The

case of Rwanda.” The Journal of Environment and Development, Vol. 5 No. 3 (1996): 270-289.

• Colin P. Kelley, Shahrzad Mohtadi, Mark A. Cane, Richard Seager, and Yochanan Kushnir

“Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought”

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Vol.112 No.11 (2015): 3241-3246.


• Andrea Graziosi, “Hunger by design: Holodomor in Ukraine.” In, Halyna Hryn (ed.) The great

Ukrainian famine in it’s Soviet Context famines and the Ukrainian Holodomor (2008).

Week 9: Intergenerational Trauma and Cultural Continuity

Nov. 14:

• Vamik Volkan, “Ancient fuel for a modern inferno: Time collapse in Bosnia-Herzegovina.” In

Bloodlines: From ethnic pride to ethnic terrorism. (Boulder Colorado: Westview Press, 1997):



• Derek Summerfield, “A critique of seven assumptions behind psychological trauma

programmes in war-affected areas.” Social Science & Medicine, 48 No.10 (1999): 1449-1462.

Nov. 16:

• Chandler, Michael J. and Christopher Lalonde. “Cultural continuity as a hedge against first

nations suicides in Canada.” Transcultural Psychiatry, 35, 2 (1998): 191-219.


• Tyler A. McCreary and Richard A. Milligan. “Pipelines, permits, and protests: Carrier Sekani


encounters with the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.” Cultural Geographies. (2014): Vol.

21, 1 (2014): 115–129.

Week 10: Representations and Psychic Numbing

Nov. 21:

• Alexander Laban Hinton, Kevin O’Neil Lewis “Genocide: Truth, Memory, and Representation:

An introduction.” in Genocide: Truth, Memory, and Representation (Durham: Duke University

Press, 2009): 1-29.


• Zorbas, Eugenia. “What does reconciliation after genocide mean? Public transcripts and hidden

transcripts in post-genocide Rwanda.” Journal of Genocide Research, 11, No. 1 (2009): 127-


Nov. 23:

• David A. Frank, Paul Slovic, Daniel Vastfjall and Daniel Vasfjall. “‘Statistics Don't Bleed’:

Rhetorical Psychology, Presence, and Psychic Numbing in Genocide Pedagogy. JAC,” Vol. 31,

3/4 (2011): 609-624


• “The Responsibility to protect: Report of the International Commission on Intervention and

State Sovereignty” (Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State

Sovereignty, 2001).

Week 11: In-Class Presentations

Nov. 28: Presentations

Nov. 30: Presentations


Dec. 5: Last Day of Class, Course Overview and Reflections

Posted by jim in on Nov 20th 2016 | 0 comment(s)

Doctor Michael Herron, who recently joined IAGS, would like to announce the publication of his new book The Unburied Past: Denial of the Armenian Genocide in American and French Politics. It covers the recent debates in American and French Politics confronting denial of the Armenian genocide, ending with the decision of the French Constitutional Council in 2012 to declare the French law criminalising denial of the Armenian genocide, unconstitutional.  It considers the issue of what is appropriate for third party states to do when confronted with denial of genocide particularly when they were involved at the time.  The book is primarily aimed at fellow genocide scholars to build on the findings of the research conducted for the dissertation on which the book is based.

Hard copies are available for purchase at blurb.com.  They are also available via Doctor Herron’s website pasttothepresent.com, a site that features blogs about how the past influences politics in the present day, some of which focus on genocide.


Doctor Herron was recently awarded his PhD in Holocaust and genocide studies from Kingston University in London for his thesis on which his book The Unburied Past is based.  He has taught a seminar on the Holocaust at Kingston University, having previously worked in politics for Democrat Representatives and a Democrat campaign consultancy in Washington DC and for the Labour Party in London.

Posted by jim in on Sep 29th 2016 | 0 comment(s)

The law on genocide protects the national, ethnical, racial and religious group, as such, from their destruction. The protected groups seemingly are part of the crime’s actus reus and mens rea, since they appear both in the provision’s chapeau as well as in each of the enumerated prohibited acts (Art. 2 lit. a-e Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, hereafter: Genocide Convention). Notably, there is no recognized legal definition of race. Jurisprudence and scholarly writing are incoherent and unclear in their approach to the concept of race, which results in a risk of inconclusive protection for the victims of mass atrocities.

The judgments of the two ad hoc international criminal tribunals cautiously refined the definition of a racial group. Simultaneously, hardly any matter is as disputed as race itself; its taboo and contentiousness do not contribute to clarifying its contours. There is a discernible trend towards a subjective definition of the victim groups of genocide, including the racial group. According to a subjective approach, the perpetrator – possibly also the victim group itself – defines the victims’ differentness. The group is thereby created through a person’s perception. In increasingly relying on a subjective approach, the significance of an objective approach is gradually weakened, albeit not fully removed. A consequence of an augmented reliance on the subjective approach to defining the victim groups of genocide is that, theoretically, groups that only exist in the mind of the perpetrator could fall under the protection of the law of genocide. If the perpetrator’s imagination alone defines the group, the principle of legality and its elements of foreseeability and specificity might be breached by broadening the protection beyond the four exhaustive categories of ethnical, racial, religious and national groups. In other words, a subjective approach challenges the principle of legality.

According to the principle of effectiveness, no word of a treaty can be left out and each term has its own legal significance. Both the above-mentioned principle of legality and the principle of effectiveness are general principles of law and as such sources of law according to Art. 38 (1)(c) ICJ Statute. The principle of effectiveness has been widely recognized as a guiding principle in the interpretation of law. If race is ignored, not only is the principle of effectiveness hindered, but the chances for a successful prosecution of the crime of genocide are reduced by 25%, because – in effect – one of four exhaustive groups is removed. Instead of shying away from defining race because of its controversy, it should be defined effectively and, most importantly, contemporaneously.

Historically, race developed to adapt a biological meaning based on innate, inherited and visible physical traits. Nowadays, however, race is seen as a social concept, based on the perception of a group’s differentness and irrespective of factual differences. The international judiciary begun to deal with race in the first ever genocide trial in 1998, when the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in the case of Akayesu defined a racial group as “based on hereditary physical traits often identified with a geographical region” (The Prosecutor v. Akayesu, Case No. ICTR-96-4-T, Judgment, 2 September 1998, para. 514).   In relying on physical traits, the ICTR objectively defined race. This approach is not unexpected. If race is part of the actus reus (objective elements), courts will attempt to define it objectively. Unfortunately, an objective definition of race will inevitably lead to reverting to outdated conceptions. It is scientifically, morally and ethically incorrect to speak of distinct human races; there is no DNA for race. However, if race is viewed as part of the mens rea only, it can be defined subjectively, taking into account the perpetrator’s perception of the victim group. In perceiving his victims as members of a racial group and attacking them for their membership, the legal approach to race becomes coherent with the contemporary understanding of race as the perception of a person’s differentness. Such a subjective approach conforms to an evolutionary interpretation: the concept of race has developed since 1948 when the Genocide Convention was adopted. In the aftermath of the Holocaust there was no discussion on what race signified. For example it was undisputed that Jews and Poles were distinct racial groups. Surprisingly there was no discussion on race when the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was drafted. Reason for this omission was the customary status of the prohibition of genocide, as articulated in Art. 2 Genocide Convention, which was incorporated into the Rome Statute.

Furthermore, a subjective definition of race is coherent with the structure of genocide as an intent-based crime. Unlike any other crime, genocide requires a special intent, the dolus specialis, to destroy a group. This intent is based on the perpetrator’s perception of the victims as inferior to his own group. The perpetrator identifies, singles out, dehumanizes and aims at destroying the group. The victims become the ‘others’ as opposed to the ‘us’. This process of ‘othering’ is inherent to any genocide, and inferiorization and dehumanization are observable in all past genocides.

By gradual formation the targeted group acquires discernible contours, notwithstanding any prior objective existence. Founded on stigmatization and prejudice, the perpetrator’s perception of the group becomes the singular defining element and shapes the victim group. Even though the group might not be real, it is treated as real. Due to labelling that has been applied to it over a longer period of time, the group eventually considers itself as real too.

The perpetrator's perception and his intent to destroy the victim group are manifested in his behavior.  As such, his understanding of the victim group and the subjective definition of the racial group become an issue of proof.  The prosecution will, instead of trying to objectively prove the existence of a racial group, have to prove the perpetrator's perception, which is reflected in his pre-genocidal behavior.  In sum, the racial group will gain increased importance in the prosecution of perpetrators of mass atrocities if it is released from the actus reus and instead fully integrated into the mens rea.

Carola Lingaas

PhD fellow, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo (Norway)


Author note: Carola Lingaas is a PhD candidate at the University of Oslo (Norway). Her research explores the concept of race in international criminal law, with a particular focus on the crime of genocide. After obtaining a Master of Law degree at the University of Zürich (Switzerland), she worked at the Public Prosecutor's Office, the District Court and a law firm. She then joined the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), where she worked as a field delegate (2002-2003) in South Sudan during the second civil war. She completed an LL.M. in Public International Law at the University of Oslo in 2005. From 2006-2013, Carola worked for the Norwegian Red Cross.