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Genocide and Human Rights

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Submitted By Sammiep
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The instances of genocide in the late 20th century stand as a testament to how unreliable the nation state can be when inalienable and human rights are concerned. As is shown in the case of Rwanda, non-state actors have taken steps to trample on these rights even when the victim technically has citizenship in a country. Additionally, the nation-state can reinforce the actions of the non-state actors through either sponsorship, or even inaction in the face of genocide. Civil society actors have taken steps to act where the nation-state has failed to do so out of what Ayers identifies as labeling the conflict as internal or a civil war. Ultimately, both Ayers and Power agree that labeling genocide as what it is, and taking other steps outside of raw military force can go a long way in preventing the atrocities of the 20th century. More specifically, since the nation-state alone cannot be trusted to handle these situations, civil society must take steps to better the diplomacy of the nation-state, along with creating an international community that can work together to remedy the problems of human and inalienable rights violations.
In her article “Raising the Cost of Genocide,” Samantha Power examines the historical response to genocide by discussing the ways in which western powers have avoided responsibility for 20th century atrocities. She begins her article by explaining the invention of the word genocide as a word meant to “send shudders down the spines of those who heard it and oblige them to prevent, punish, and even suppress the carnage” . This notion opens up the main point of the article which is that western powers have not been reacting in this way when genocide comes up. The first case that Power points out is the Armenia genocide in the early 20th century. According to Power, the Western powers had knowledge of what Turkey was doing to the Armenian population and called upon the U.S. to use its power to help put a stop to the genocide, but President Wilson chose to maintain U.S. neutrality over intervention . This is an excellent example of how the state becomes an obstacle to human and inalienable rights. More specifically, Wilson put foreign policy objectives before saving human lives, presumably because intervening in Turkey would have been seen as state on state aggression. Power describes a similar situation that took place during the holocaust in which the allies “downplayed the numerous and graphic atrocity reports smuggled out of Nazi-occupied territory or intercepted by Allied intelligence officials”. Power argues that the Allies didn’t want to lose “public support for the war” which again shows the way in which the state puts its interest over protecting people from genocide. Moreover, the post-war trials put the focus on state on state aggression rather than the genocide that took place. Power next examines the cases of genocide in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Burundi; in each case, the U.S. and its allies used “sovereignty as an excuse for refraining from even complaint” . In reality, these nations had some strategic value to the western powers, and Powers argues that this is the reason that these atrocities were largely ignored. Power brings up all of these examples in order to display the way in which western nations have simultaneously denounced the notion of genocide while ignoring it when it manifests around the world.
Power argues that the U.S. is the most important actor in the response to genocide because of the influence that it has in the western world. The problem that arises with this, is that if the U.S. does nothing, then the rest of the world will follow. Power argues that this is especially problematic following 9/11 because the U.S. “will view genocide prevention as a luxury it cannot afford as it sets out to better protect Americans” . That sets genocide prevention back even further than before because now intervening will be judged by whether it is in line with the War on Terror.
One would think that preventing genocide would fall in line with preventing terror, and that Americans would “empathize with the peoples victimized by genocide” . However, the U.S. has shown that it tends to shy away from engaging in a conflict that doesn’t directly serve U.S. interests. Power’s solution to these issues is simply that the U.S. and its allies need to do a better job of using all the diplomatic resources available. She frames the current response as either “doing nothing or sending in the marines,” in which the former has tended to trump the latter in past conflicts. These extreme reactions seem illogical when the U.S. has so many diplomatic tools available.
Power argues that one of the first things that the U.S. needs to do is to actually call genocide what it is. The current trend has been to call genocide civil or tribal war which makes it more likely that the public will shrug the conflict off . This allows officials to remain inactive in conflicts and avoid taking any political costs. Secondly, Power suggests that the U.S. needs to take advantages of the diplomatic tools available such as “threatening its perpetrators with prosecution, demanding expulsion of representatives of genocidal regimes…economic sanctions,” and all of the other small steps that can be taken to create a larger result. In actuality, however, the biggest change that needs to occur is within the American people.
In her next article, “Stopping Genocide and Securing Justice: Learning By Doing,” Power encapsulates how this phenomenon occurs. Specifically, she discusses how the American public is important in determining the actions of state officials. She argues that people in America “refuse to let the magnitude of the atrocities or the moral imperative seep in” . This allows American leaders to ignore genocidal atrocities under the guise of not knowing or not understanding how bad a situation is. Power describes how the government responded differently in the case of Bosnia “because of the noise generated at home” . As shown by other cases of genocide, if the public doesn’t pressure the state, the state will tend to do nothing. Power goes on to discuss one possible solution to the inaction surrounding genocide, criminal tribunals. According to Power, prosecuting those responsible for executing genocide has seven purposes: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, truth telling, acknowledgement, fairness, and responsibility .
She goes through each of these and explains how they can be useful in the prevention, and aftermath of genocide. Some of the important points include the idea that incapacitation has worked to remove people who undermine the success of these fragile countries. Because they are in jail, they are unable to start another conflict in countries that are trying to recover from war and genocide. Moreover, an international trial allows for these atrocities to be recorded and for the truth to come out regarding the crimes committed. Truth-telling leaves a lesson for future generations to learn from, when they are either confronting new genocidal conflict or creating new policy for the country. Lastly, attributing the responsibility for genocide to individuals rather than groups is necessary in preventing arbitrary retaliation and group hatred. Power argues that it is not enough to simply convict the perpetrators; the courts must also work harder to communicate the developments of the court to the home country. Doing so allows the survivors to see that something is actually being done about the conflict, and it shows how the courts function, which lends to the credibility of the courts .
Power concludes this by relating it to her earlier article: the nation-state is what stands in the way of the courts being as successful as they could be. More specifically, she argues that “building these courts to meet political needs, and to avoid political costs has had a profound influence on the orientation of the courts” . The western nation-states have a strong effect on the way that the court operates and even if a tribunal will even be created. This returns to the idea that the nation-state is always a hindrance to human and inalienable rights because not only has it been shown to allow genocide, but it also constrains justice in the aftermath of it.
Ayers continues this conversation with her article “Sudan's Uncivil War”. In the article she discusses the way in which civil war and internal conflict is used to describe instances of genocide in Africa. According to Ayers, the confljct seen in many countries is not due to civil war or tribal fighting, it is a direct result of centuries of imperialism. Instead of acknowledging this, western nations tend to use internal fighting as a way to do nothing when genocide occurs. Ayers takes the example of Sudan and argues that “civil war in Sudan is commonly portraed according to essentialist differences based on racial, ethnic, or religious antagonisms” . This serves to make western powers feel less responsible for what has happened in the region by placing blame on the local people. Instead of doing this, Ayers argues that there is a need to “understand the process through which group identities are produced, reproduced, and potentially transcended” . Doing so is a more effective way of dealing with conflicts that arise along these divisions that were often created by former colonial powers because it acknowledges the origin of these groups instead of assuming they’ve always existed.
This is extremely important in that it points out one of the biggest excuses that western powers give when contemporary genocide has occurred. If the West shifts the blame away from themselves, then they are able to evade any obligation to intervene. Framing genocide as civil war also allows states to cling to the idea that state sovereignty must be upheld. This outlines the conflict between the nation-state and human rights because it shows how the idea of state sovereignty is used to ignore huma rights abuses occuring around the world. Moreover, the creation of the nation after colonialism is another major reason that Sudan has the conflicts it does. Ayers points out that the nation was created through a struggle between Britain and Egypt forces. In this struggle, Britain rushed the independence of Sudan and reinforced the inequities in the economy of the country . With the north holding all of the economic capital and wealth, the south is left completely dependent on the north. The north uses this to differientiate itself from the south along Arab vs. African lines. These lines are mainly a lasting effect of the British tendency to divide and conquer its colonies. Nevertheless, when the nation was created, the Arab north seized the opportunity to define Sudan as an arab nation, therefore claiming that the Africans of the south did not belong to the nation . This is a classic example of how nation-states are the perpetrators in human rights abuses because they are the ones that create ways to exclude some from citizenship. Once this is done, those people no longer have the protection of the law to fall back on for grievances. They become vulnerable to human rights abuses because the nation-state has become the only way to obtain rights. Ayers argues that in the case of Sudan, “political violence is neither new nor extraordinary nor internal, but rather, crucial and constitutive dimensions of Sudan’s neo-colonial condition” . If this is true, then western nations, especially those who are involved in creating the situation, have a duty to intervene.
Conclusively, both Ayers and Power argue that the nation-state has become a hindrance to the protection of human rights, not only because the state is often the perpetrator, but also other states do not intervene because of political interests. Moreover, Power points out the role that the U.S. plays in determining the worldwide response to genocide and explains how the U.S. historically choses non-intervention. She also explains how the solution to this inaction is for the civil society of the U.S. to take more action to force leaders to do something. Additionally, she argues that civil society should push for action outside of purely military intervention. Ayers adds to this by saying that western powers need to begin acknowledging the origins of many of the current conflicts. Doing so would show that these aren’t civil wars that were destined to happen, but instead are the remnants of western colonization. Separating out this difference and calling genocide what it actually is are only a few of the many steps that need to be taken to advance human rights and prevent genocide.

The instances of genocide in the late 20th century stand as a testament to how unreliable the nation state can be when inalienable and human rights are concerned. As is shown in the case of Rwanda, non-state actors have taken steps to trample on these rights even when the victim technically has citizenship in a country. Additionally, the nation-state can reinforce the actions of the non-state actors through either sponsorship, or even inaction in the face of genocide. Civil society actors have taken steps to act where the nation-state has failed to do so out of what Ayers identifies as labeling the conflict as internal or a civil war. Ultimately, both Ayers and Power agree that labeling genocide as what it is, and taking other steps outside of raw military force can go a long way in preventing the atrocities of the 20th century. More specifically, since the nation-state alone cannot be trusted to handle these situations, civil society must take steps to better the diplomacy of the nation-state, along with creating an international community that can work together to remedy the problems of human and inalienable rights violations.
In her article “Raising the Cost of Genocide,” Samantha Power examines the historical response to genocide by discussing the ways in which western powers have avoided responsibility for 20th century atrocities. She begins her article by explaining the invention of the word genocide as a word meant to “send shudders down the spines of those who heard it and oblige them to prevent, punish, and even suppress the carnage” . This notion opens up the main point of the article which is that western powers have not been reacting in this way when genocide comes up. The first case that Power points out is the Armenia genocide in the early 20th century. According to Power, the Western powers had knowledge of what Turkey was doing to the Armenian population and called upon the U.S. to use its power to help put a stop to the genocide, but President Wilson chose to maintain U.S. neutrality over intervention . This is an excellent example of how the state becomes an obstacle to human and inalienable rights. More specifically, Wilson put foreign policy objectives before saving human lives, presumably because intervening in Turkey would have been seen as state on state aggression. Power describes a similar situation that took place during the holocaust in which the allies “downplayed the numerous and graphic atrocity reports smuggled out of Nazi-occupied territory or intercepted by Allied intelligence officials”. Power argues that the Allies didn’t want to lose “public support for the war” which again shows the way in which the state puts its interest over protecting people from genocide. Moreover, the post-war trials put the focus on state on state aggression rather than the genocide that took place. Power next examines the cases of genocide in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Burundi; in each case, the U.S. and its allies used “sovereignty as an excuse for refraining from even complaint” . In reality, these nations had some strategic value to the western powers, and Powers argues that this is the reason that these atrocities were largely ignored. Power brings up all of these examples in order to display the way in which western nations have simultaneously denounced the notion of genocide while ignoring it when it manifests around the world.
Power argues that the U.S. is the most important actor in the response to genocide because of the influence that it has in the western world. The problem that arises with this, is that if the U.S. does nothing, then the rest of the world will follow. Power argues that this is especially problematic following 9/11 because the U.S. “will view genocide prevention as a luxury it cannot afford as it sets out to better protect Americans” . That sets genocide prevention back even further than before because now intervening will be judged by whether it is in line with the War on Terror.
One would think that preventing genocide would fall in line with preventing terror, and that Americans would “empathize with the peoples victimized by genocide” . However, the U.S. has shown that it tends to shy away from engaging in a conflict that doesn’t directly serve U.S. interests. Power’s solution to these issues is simply that the U.S. and its allies need to do a better job of using all the diplomatic resources available. She frames the current response as either “doing nothing or sending in the marines,” in which the former has tended to trump the latter in past conflicts. These extreme reactions seem illogical when the U.S. has so many diplomatic tools available.
Power argues that one of the first things that the U.S. needs to do is to actually call genocide what it is. The current trend has been to call genocide civil or tribal war which makes it more likely that the public will shrug the conflict off . This allows officials to remain inactive in conflicts and avoid taking any political costs. Secondly, Power suggests that the U.S. needs to take advantages of the diplomatic tools available such as “threatening its perpetrators with prosecution, demanding expulsion of representatives of genocidal regimes…economic sanctions,” and all of the other small steps that can be taken to create a larger result. In actuality, however, the biggest change that needs to occur is within the American people.
In her next article, “Stopping Genocide and Securing Justice: Learning By Doing,” Power encapsulates how this phenomenon occurs. Specifically, she discusses how the American public is important in determining the actions of state officials. She argues that people in America “refuse to let the magnitude of the atrocities or the moral imperative seep in” . This allows American leaders to ignore genocidal atrocities under the guise of not knowing or not understanding how bad a situation is. Power describes how the government responded differently in the case of Bosnia “because of the noise generated at home” . As shown by other cases of genocide, if the public doesn’t pressure the state, the state will tend to do nothing. Power goes on to discuss one possible solution to the inaction surrounding genocide, criminal tribunals. According to Power, prosecuting those responsible for executing genocide has seven purposes: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, truth telling, acknowledgement, fairness, and responsibility .
She goes through each of these and explains how they can be useful in the prevention, and aftermath of genocide. Some of the important points include the idea that incapacitation has worked to remove people who undermine the success of these fragile countries. Because they are in jail, they are unable to start another conflict in countries that are trying to recover from war and genocide. Moreover, an international trial allows for these atrocities to be recorded and for the truth to come out regarding the crimes committed. Truth-telling leaves a lesson for future generations to learn from, when they are either confronting new genocidal conflict or creating new policy for the country. Lastly, attributing the responsibility for genocide to individuals rather than groups is necessary in preventing arbitrary retaliation and group hatred. Power argues that it is not enough to simply convict the perpetrators; the courts must also work harder to communicate the developments of the court to the home country. Doing so allows the survivors to see that something is actually being done about the conflict, and it shows how the courts function, which lends to the credibility of the courts .
Power concludes this by relating it to her earlier article: the nation-state is what stands in the way of the courts being as successful as they could be. More specifically, she argues that “building these courts to meet political needs, and to avoid political costs has had a profound influence on the orientation of the courts” . The western nation-states have a strong effect on the way that the court operates and even if a tribunal will even be created. This returns to the idea that the nation-state is always a hindrance to human and inalienable rights because not only has it been shown to allow genocide, but it also constrains justice in the aftermath of it.
Ayers continues this conversation with her article “Sudan's Uncivil War”. In the article she discusses the way in which civil war and internal conflict is used to describe instances of genocide in Africa. According to Ayers, the confljct seen in many countries is not due to civil war or tribal fighting, it is a direct result of centuries of imperialism. Instead of acknowledging this, western nations tend to use internal fighting as a way to do nothing when genocide occurs. Ayers takes the example of Sudan and argues that “civil war in Sudan is commonly portraed according to essentialist differences based on racial, ethnic, or religious antagonisms” . This serves to make western powers feel less responsible for what has happened in the region by placing blame on the local people. Instead of doing this, Ayers argues that there is a need to “understand the process through which group identities are produced, reproduced, and potentially transcended” . Doing so is a more effective way of dealing with conflicts that arise along these divisions that were often created by former colonial powers because it acknowledges the origin of these groups instead of assuming they’ve always existed.
This is extremely important in that it points out one of the biggest excuses that western powers give when contemporary genocide has occurred. If the West shifts the blame away from themselves, then they are able to evade any obligation to intervene. Framing genocide as civil war also allows states to cling to the idea that state sovereignty must be upheld. This outlines the conflict between the nation-state and human rights because it shows how the idea of state sovereignty is used to ignore huma rights abuses occuring around the world. Moreover, the creation of the nation after colonialism is another major reason that Sudan has the conflicts it does. Ayers points out that the nation was created through a struggle between Britain and Egypt forces. In this struggle, Britain rushed the independence of Sudan and reinforced the inequities in the economy of the country . With the north holding all of the economic capital and wealth, the south is left completely dependent on the north. The north uses this to differientiate itself from the south along Arab vs. African lines. These lines are mainly a lasting effect of the British tendency to divide and conquer its colonies. Nevertheless, when the nation was created, the Arab north seized the opportunity to define Sudan as an arab nation, therefore claiming that the Africans of the south did not belong to the nation . This is a classic example of how nation-states are the perpetrators in human rights abuses because they are the ones that create ways to exclude some from citizenship. Once this is done, those people no longer have the protection of the law to fall back on for grievances. They become vulnerable to human rights abuses because the nation-state has become the only way to obtain rights. Ayers argues that in the case of Sudan, “political violence is neither new nor extraordinary nor internal, but rather, crucial and constitutive dimensions of Sudan’s neo-colonial condition” . If this is true, then western nations, especially those who are involved in creating the situation, have a duty to intervene.
Conclusively, both Ayers and Power argue that the nation-state has become a hindrance to the protection of human rights, not only because the state is often the perpetrator, but also other states do not intervene because of political interests. Moreover, Power points out the role that the U.S. plays in determining the worldwide response to genocide and explains how the U.S. historically choses non-intervention. She also explains how the solution to this inaction is for the civil society of the U.S. to take more action to force leaders to do something. Additionally, she argues that civil society should push for action outside of purely military intervention. Ayers adds to this by saying that western powers need to begin acknowledging the origins of many of the current conflicts. Doing so would show that these aren’t civil wars that were destined to happen, but instead are the remnants of western colonization. Separating out this difference and calling genocide what it actually is are only a few of the many steps that need to be taken to advance human rights and prevent genocide.

The instances of genocide in the late 20th century stand as a testament to how unreliable the nation state can be when inalienable and human rights are concerned. As is shown in the case of Rwanda, non-state actors have taken steps to trample on these rights even when the victim technically has citizenship in a country. Additionally, the nation-state can reinforce the actions of the non-state actors through either sponsorship, or even inaction in the face of genocide. Civil society actors have taken steps to act where the nation-state has failed to do so out of what Ayers identifies as labeling the conflict as internal or a civil war. Ultimately, both Ayers and Power agree that labeling genocide as what it is, and taking other steps outside of raw military force can go a long way in preventing the atrocities of the 20th century. More specifically, since the nation-state alone cannot be trusted to handle these situations, civil society must take steps to better the diplomacy of the nation-state, along with creating an international community that can work together to remedy the problems of human and inalienable rights violations.
In her article “Raising the Cost of Genocide,” Samantha Power examines the historical response to genocide by discussing the ways in which western powers have avoided responsibility for 20th century atrocities. She begins her article by explaining the invention of the word genocide as a word meant to “send shudders down the spines of those who heard it and oblige them to prevent, punish, and even suppress the carnage” . This notion opens up the main point of the article which is that western powers have not been reacting in this way when genocide comes up. The first case that Power points out is the Armenia genocide in the early 20th century. According to Power, the Western powers had knowledge of what Turkey was doing to the Armenian population and called upon the U.S. to use its power to help put a stop to the genocide, but President Wilson chose to maintain U.S. neutrality over intervention . This is an excellent example of how the state becomes an obstacle to human and inalienable rights. More specifically, Wilson put foreign policy objectives before saving human lives, presumably because intervening in Turkey would have been seen as state on state aggression. Power describes a similar situation that took place during the holocaust in which the allies “downplayed the numerous and graphic atrocity reports smuggled out of Nazi-occupied territory or intercepted by Allied intelligence officials”. Power argues that the Allies didn’t want to lose “public support for the war” which again shows the way in which the state puts its interest over protecting people from genocide. Moreover, the post-war trials put the focus on state on state aggression rather than the genocide that took place. Power next examines the cases of genocide in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Burundi; in each case, the U.S. and its allies used “sovereignty as an excuse for refraining from even complaint” . In reality, these nations had some strategic value to the western powers, and Powers argues that this is the reason that these atrocities were largely ignored. Power brings up all of these examples in order to display the way in which western nations have simultaneously denounced the notion of genocide while ignoring it when it manifests around the world.
Power argues that the U.S. is the most important actor in the response to genocide because of the influence that it has in the western world. The problem that arises with this, is that if the U.S. does nothing, then the rest of the world will follow. Power argues that this is especially problematic following 9/11 because the U.S. “will view genocide prevention as a luxury it cannot afford as it sets out to better protect Americans” . That sets genocide prevention back even further than before because now intervening will be judged by whether it is in line with the War on Terror.
One would think that preventing genocide would fall in line with preventing terror, and that Americans would “empathize with the peoples victimized by genocide” . However, the U.S. has shown that it tends to shy away from engaging in a conflict that doesn’t directly serve U.S. interests. Power’s solution to these issues is simply that the U.S. and its allies need to do a better job of using all the diplomatic resources available. She frames the current response as either “doing nothing or sending in the marines,” in which the former has tended to trump the latter in past conflicts. These extreme reactions seem illogical when the U.S. has so many diplomatic tools available.
Power argues that one of the first things that the U.S. needs to do is to actually call genocide what it is. The current trend has been to call genocide civil or tribal war which makes it more likely that the public will shrug the conflict off . This allows officials to remain inactive in conflicts and avoid taking any political costs. Secondly, Power suggests that the U.S. needs to take advantages of the diplomatic tools available such as “threatening its perpetrators with prosecution, demanding expulsion of representatives of genocidal regimes…economic sanctions,” and all of the other small steps that can be taken to create a larger result. In actuality, however, the biggest change that needs to occur is within the American people.
In her next article, “Stopping Genocide and Securing Justice: Learning By Doing,” Power encapsulates how this phenomenon occurs. Specifically, she discusses how the American public is important in determining the actions of state officials. She argues that people in America “refuse to let the magnitude of the atrocities or the moral imperative seep in” . This allows American leaders to ignore genocidal atrocities under the guise of not knowing or not understanding how bad a situation is. Power describes how the government responded differently in the case of Bosnia “because of the noise generated at home” . As shown by other cases of genocide, if the public doesn’t pressure the state, the state will tend to do nothing. Power goes on to discuss one possible solution to the inaction surrounding genocide, criminal tribunals. According to Power, prosecuting those responsible for executing genocide has seven purposes: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, truth telling, acknowledgement, fairness, and responsibility .
She goes through each of these and explains how they can be useful in the prevention, and aftermath of genocide. Some of the important points include the idea that incapacitation has worked to remove people who undermine the success of these fragile countries. Because they are in jail, they are unable to start another conflict in countries that are trying to recover from war and genocide. Moreover, an international trial allows for these atrocities to be recorded and for the truth to come out regarding the crimes committed. Truth-telling leaves a lesson for future generations to learn from, when they are either confronting new genocidal conflict or creating new policy for the country. Lastly, attributing the responsibility for genocide to individuals rather than groups is necessary in preventing arbitrary retaliation and group hatred. Power argues that it is not enough to simply convict the perpetrators; the courts must also work harder to communicate the developments of the court to the home country. Doing so allows the survivors to see that something is actually being done about the conflict, and it shows how the courts function, which lends to the credibility of the courts .
Power concludes this by relating it to her earlier article: the nation-state is what stands in the way of the courts being as successful as they could be. More specifically, she argues that “building these courts to meet political needs, and to avoid political costs has had a profound influence on the orientation of the courts” . The western nation-states have a strong effect on the way that the court operates and even if a tribunal will even be created. This returns to the idea that the nation-state is always a hindrance to human and inalienable rights because not only has it been shown to allow genocide, but it also constrains justice in the aftermath of it.
Ayers continues this conversation with her article “Sudan's Uncivil War”. In the article she discusses the way in which civil war and internal conflict is used to describe instances of genocide in Africa. According to Ayers, the confljct seen in many countries is not due to civil war or tribal fighting, it is a direct result of centuries of imperialism. Instead of acknowledging this, western nations tend to use internal fighting as a way to do nothing when genocide occurs. Ayers takes the example of Sudan and argues that “civil war in Sudan is commonly portraed according to essentialist differences based on racial, ethnic, or religious antagonisms” . This serves to make western powers feel less responsible for what has happened in the region by placing blame on the local people. Instead of doing this, Ayers argues that there is a need to “understand the process through which group identities are produced, reproduced, and potentially transcended” . Doing so is a more effective way of dealing with conflicts that arise along these divisions that were often created by former colonial powers because it acknowledges the origin of these groups instead of assuming they’ve always existed.
This is extremely important in that it points out one of the biggest excuses that western powers give when contemporary genocide has occurred. If the West shifts the blame away from themselves, then they are able to evade any obligation to intervene. Framing genocide as civil war also allows states to cling to the idea that state sovereignty must be upheld. This outlines the conflict between the nation-state and human rights because it shows how the idea of state sovereignty is used to ignore huma rights abuses occuring around the world. Moreover, the creation of the nation after colonialism is another major reason that Sudan has the conflicts it does. Ayers points out that the nation was created through a struggle between Britain and Egypt forces. In this struggle, Britain rushed the independence of Sudan and reinforced the inequities in the economy of the country . With the north holding all of the economic capital and wealth, the south is left completely dependent on the north. The north uses this to differientiate itself from the south along Arab vs. African lines. These lines are mainly a lasting effect of the British tendency to divide and conquer its colonies. Nevertheless, when the nation was created, the Arab north seized the opportunity to define Sudan as an arab nation, therefore claiming that the Africans of the south did not belong to the nation . This is a classic example of how nation-states are the perpetrators in human rights abuses because they are the ones that create ways to exclude some from citizenship. Once this is done, those people no longer have the protection of the law to fall back on for grievances. They become vulnerable to human rights abuses because the nation-state has become the only way to obtain rights. Ayers argues that in the case of Sudan, “political violence is neither new nor extraordinary nor internal, but rather, crucial and constitutive dimensions of Sudan’s neo-colonial condition” . If this is true, then western nations, especially those who are involved in creating the situation, have a duty to intervene.
Conclusively, both Ayers and Power argue that the nation-state has become a hindrance to the protection of human rights, not only because the state is often the perpetrator, but also other states do not intervene because of political interests. Moreover, Power points out the role that the U.S. plays in determining the worldwide response to genocide and explains how the U.S. historically choses non-intervention. She also explains how the solution to this inaction is for the civil society of the U.S. to take more action to force leaders to do something. Additionally, she argues that civil society should push for action outside of purely military intervention. Ayers adds to this by saying that western powers need to begin acknowledging the origins of many of the current conflicts. Doing so would show that these aren’t civil wars that were destined to happen, but instead are the remnants of western colonization. Separating out this difference and calling genocide what it actually is are only a few of the many steps that need to be taken to advance human rights and prevent genocide.

Ayers, Alison. "Sudan's Uncivil War." Review of African Political Economy (2010): 153-171.
Power , Samantha. "Stopping Genocide and Securing Justice: Learning By Doing." Social Research (2002): 1093-1107.
Power, Samantha. "Ghosts of Kosovo." Time Magazine 3 March 2008.
—. "Raising the Cost of Genocide." Dissent (2002): 85-95.
—. "The Misreading of Milosevic." The New Republic 3 May 1999: 24-28.

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