Has it ever occurred to you how such heinous crimes such as genocide can actually happen in a society? One would ask what is genocide and why has it occurred repeatedly over the last twenty years. What are the set goals required in order to achieve the benchmark created and at the same time the overall strategy utilized? According to Staub (2013), genocide has been described as acts or attempt to excommunicate a whole group of people which may be a race or ethnic community, religious or political group. Under the United Nations Convention on genocide, mass killings involve the elimination of a huge number of people with no intention of targeting a group. The 20th century was marred with quite a number of genocides, mass killings and heated violent conflicts. Virtually in every corner of the world, violence is manifested, for instance the genocide in Darfur along the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, the ethnic-sided violence in Congo, the perennial conflict of the Israelis and Palestinians and violence between ethnic and religious groups in Iraq and Afghanistan (Staub , 2013).
Following continue competition for the scarce resources, the gap of inequalities expanding; the potential for global warming to develop scarcity and other related problems, the danger of more violence is enormous. How can we prevent violence between religious and political groups, ethnic or between dominant and subordinate groups in a society and build peaceful societies? Apparently, theory and research concerning genocide have been minimal, perhaps to the fact that experimental methodologies cannot be applied to them. Within the framework, this paper will use the Rwanda conflicts as a case study. We would look at a condensed history, the set goals that would assist to counter from its occurrence and whether they are achievable (Staub , 2013).
The culmination of Rwandan genocide
Rwanda a young nation in Eastern part of Africa had a distinction of ethnicity rooting from the division in labor among tribes existed way back in the 14th century. According to historians, those that were purely farmers were identified by the name ‘Hutus’ while those who were animal herders referred as ‘Tutsi’. According to the population census, the Hutus formed the majority approximating over eighty five percent while the Tutsi the minority. However, the Tutsi with their skills and great possession of cattle gained economic, political and social control over the Hutu. Following the succession of the Germany by the Belgium over the colony brought some social changes within the society. Unfortunately, the envisioned transformation would serve to exacerbate divisions amongst the Tutsi and the Hutu. There were political legislations which were constituted that was bias towards particular tribes leading to skirmishes at particular point in time. A quarter of a century saw the Hutu remain in power while the great number of Tutsi remaining as refugees in the neighboring countries. In the wake of 1990s, the culmination of what came to be known as ‘Rwanda genocide’ was a resultant the dissatisfaction of the Tutsi with the government towards their ethnic community as well as the level of impunity in the government coffers (Clark, 2010).
Response to the genocide
Transitional justice all over the world form one of the key objective in averting some future atrocities reoccurring. Statute such as the UN ICTR which was primarily formulated to prosecute and punish the key perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide had an integral part in contributing to national reconciliation and maintenance of peace. As much as we are talking about transitional justice what reconstructive objectives should post-conflict societies progress with? Some underlying questions might emerge such whether it would be necessary and feasible to punish the perpetrators of mass crimes and if so what is punishment aimed to attain or is there any moral obligation fulfillment in bring the culprits to justice (Clark, 2010).
Upholding of the truth
On the basis of ICTR, however, upholds the notion that punishment is a function of peace and reconciliation. Some questions have been raised on whether ICTR honestly view that reconciliation as a key objective. With that respect, it is not only critical to isolate the alleged objectives of specific transitional justice institutions but to vigorously examine and interpret their meaning. Whenever, the term truth is mentioned, it forms one of the objectives in the post-conflict situation and remains a synonymous consideration in transitional societies (Clark, 2010).
It is common for victims of crime to occasionally seek the truth of who planned, instigated and probably covered up acts. Apparently, policy-maker are always at quagmire on deciding between establishing some form of judicial structure, whether on local level or international or in some instances a combination of the same. According to proponents from other quarters, for societies to be able to avert the reoccurrence of past heinous crimes and to cleanse themselves of the corrosive effects of enormous harm, they should comprehend at the deepest possible levels on what happened and for what reasons. Incidentally, a number of ways can be used to attain the truth; it may be through a legal process or emotional process particularly if it relates to personal experiences of conflict (Clark, 2010).
Creating Peace amidst the perpetrators and the victims
In institutions such as the gacaca and the ICTR which are both aimed at pursuing justice, basically have some interlink to the objective of peace via the concept of deterrence. When we punish the perpetrators and orchestrators of mass killings, the argument goes, then we will be saying to the would-be criminals that they will be punished, thereby dissuading them from committing atrocities. One of the main reasons of Rwanda genocide was impunity amongst the government officials as they orchestrated crimes without batting an eye. Therefore, elimination of culture of impunity through punishing those culpable for the heinous crimes sets a vital framework for stabilization in post-conflict societies (Clark, 2010).
Pursing justice that best serve the victims and the perpetrators
The emerging questions regarding the various transitional institutions have been whether amnesty rather than punishment would better promote peace, truth and reconciliation. As a matter of fact, it does not come out clearly why certain institutions purse justice after mass violence. Under the gacaca transitional institution, the models of justice can be subdivided into three facets namely: retributive, deterrent and restorative.By dissecting each of the categories, retributive justice claims that orchestrators should be punished, to bring them to account and to serve them what they deservedly needed (Clark, 2010). Whereas, deterrent concept of justice holds the view that serving punishment is paramount not only the notion that perpetrators deserve it but on the fact that would help discern a convicted orchestrator from committing multiple crime for fear of being meted with punishment. An the restorative view of justice holds that meting punishment in isolation is not sufficiently enough; criminals being punished is necessary but should be administered in manners that gives perpetrators to compensate victims (Clark , 2010)
Apparently, truth and justice remain the more traditionally common objectives of post-conflict institutions, but reconciliation in recent times remains a focal theme. More broadly, reconciliation constitute of reconstructing of fractured person and communal interrelationships after conflict aimed at encouraging meaningful interaction and cooperation amongst former antagonists. Reconciliation process happens internally where fears, perceptions and hopes and the interpretation of the relationship itself. Reconciliation focuses on healing process from the traumas of both victims and the perpetrators on the aftermath of the violence. In fact, it can be dubbed as closure of the bad relation and opening of a new chapter in life (Clark, 2010).
Future prospects for countering genocide have been set out clearly despite the shortcomings of body such as the ICC and others. For the set out objective to be attainable, more concerted efforts and mechanism to be put in place. In Rwanda, efforts towards training leaders about origins of group violence, prevention of group violence as well as reconciliation was a progress towards the right direction. The fact that training was a more interactive enables individuals to gain information and develop understanding which subsequently engages them to be more productive. This goes a great deal in humanizing each group to some level at the same time providing substantive content for dialogue (Clark, 2010). Extensive engagement should be put into consideration by the incumbent regime potentially through education which would go a long way in helping leaders being aware of their circumstances and individual around them in order to create mutual support in resisting the subversion of their moral and humane values. Resident ethnic communities would be made away that such crimes not only derail economic development, but also foster hatred to the future generation to come. Following the involving of gacaca courts Rwanda has transformed into a nation that is not only sovereign, but is under the foundation that they are one nation that have a common goals, that of posterity (Clark , 2010).
Clark, P. (2010). The Gacaca courts, post-genocide justice and reconciliation in Rwanda: Justice without lawyers. Cambridge University Press.
Staub, E. (2013). Building a peaceful society: origins, prevention, and reconciliation after genocide and other group violence. American Psychologist, 68(7), 576-589.