The Role of the United Nations in Stopping Genocide
University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.
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Well, I see in many cases—let’s say Rwanda, Kosovo, and East Timor—the international community failed to prevent genocide to occur. There has been intervention but after, after the massacre, after the genocide occurred; for example, in Rwanda, Kosovo, and East Timor. East Timor is the clear example. The international community knew that the militias—the Indonesian-backed militia, the Indonesian army, the police—will escalate violence against the civilians as soon as the vote takes place. They knew that. But they didn’t intervene until the entire country is destroyed, until thousands—until 230,000 people had been forced to leave their hometowns to West Timor, and many more were killed.
I think the UN would have to seriously implement what they call preventive diplomacy or peacekeeping operations. I think there has to be a concerted effort. I mean, the UN is an institution. It can only—it can only act with consent of the members of the United Nations. There’s not always a consensus within the United Nations members. But, I think it’s not impossible to reach a consensus about stopping the violence, if the member states are aware that violence is a horrible thing; it takes human life, and therefore it must stop. So my answer would be the UN should revise its—should learn from other experiences around the world. And I think from there, the UN might be able to find ways how to prevent violence before it erupts.
Genocide is a fabrication of the state. The genocide in East Timor cannot happen if the Indonesian army, the Indonesian government, decided to stop. The military, the militias were there. They would not do anything. They would not just go to people’s houses and kill people without any instruction from their commander, from the president or from the minister of the armed forces. So, it is a fabrication of the state.