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The Potential for Genocide

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The Potential for Genocide




Oral history video clip featuring Gregory Stanton, the Director of Genocide Watch. This video was originally produced by Media Entertainment, Inc., for the 2000 documentary The Genocide Factor.


Media Entertainment, Inc.


Genocide Factor Collection, Oral History Program, Tampa Library,
University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.


Tampa, Fla. : University of South Florida Tampa Library.




Stanton, Gregory


Tape number: 4063G


video / mp4




Oral History

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Proctor, Cecily


Stanton, Gregory


I think it’s especially hard for each of us to see in ourselves the potential for genocide, and I think that is one of the reasons why it’s so hard for us to believe that genocide is happening. Because when we read about it or we see it happening on the news, we say, “Oh, those people. There must be something crazy about them; there must be something wrong with them. They aren’t like us, those people. You know, they must be completely different from us.” But they’re not. They’re human beings like us. And what’s really important to realize about genocide is it comes from deep human emotions, from deep instincts that are in every single human being and that have to be overcome, through reason and through law and through faith. And without those forces that can overcome our instincts, that can overcome our animal instincts, we’ll always have genocide. But with those forces, with reason and law and faith, we can overcome it. We can overcome genocide. It is human. Some people tell me, “Oh, genocide, we can never overcome that. It’s just human nature.” And I tell them, “People used to say that about slavery, that slavery was just human nature; we can never overcome that.” When you read the documents from the early 1700s, that period, people would say, “Oh, slavery is just human nature.” People would argue against the antislavery movement that it was against the law of nature; you can’t possibly abolish it. Well, we haven’t completely abolished it: there’s still some slavery in the world. In Sudan, for instance, there’s still some slavery—which is, by the way, accompanied by genocide. The two seem to go together. But we’ve come a long way on slavery. It’s certainly been abolished in this country, and we were one of the worst. I think that we can abolish genocide, too. I think genocide has been created by human beings, and I think it can be ended by human beings. I think the way to do it is through the enforcement of law, and I think we can do it if we can create the institutions to enforce law. And so, that’s going to take, of course, creating those institutions. Now, one of the things that, of course, is very important to realize about genocide is that genocide cannot be solved by the nation state. The nation state is incapable of solving the problem of genocide because it is the nation state that commits genocide. The nation state’s own troops or forces are usually the forces that commit the crime. And so you can’t expect the nation state to solve the problem. The nation state’s own courts can’t be expected to judge genocide. To do that, you have to have international courts. That’s why you can’t expect Saddam Hussein’s courts to judge Saddam Hussein, because Saddam Hussein controls his own courts. You can’t expect Idi Amin’s courts to judge him, or Pol Pot’s courts to judge him. You have to have international institutions to do that. And that’s why, of course, we have to create the international institutions to overcome this problem. It’s a global problem; it requires global solutions. It has to be a transnational solution; it has to be an international solution to an international problem. In fact, the nation state is not the solution. The nation state is the problem.

Original Format

Beta tape




Media Entertainment, Inc., “The Potential for Genocide,” USF Library Special & Digital Collections Exhibits, accessed December 9, 2019,