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The Responsibility to ProtectA Defense$
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Alex J. Bellamy

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198704119

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198704119.001.0001

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Atrocities in Our Time

Atrocities in Our Time

(p.19) 1 Atrocities in Our Time
The Responsibility to Protect

Alex J. Bellamy

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines how and why mass atrocities happen. Beginning with three accounts of actual massacres, the chapter explores the structural roots of mass killing and the factors that drive ordinary people to commit extraordinary acts of inhumanity. It also considers recurring patterns in atrocities over time and territory. The chapter argues that if we are to combat atrocities, we need to understand that they are deliberate, planned, and rational, requiring significant levels of organization. In particular, we need to pay attention to the social and political contexts that encourage and enable people to commit unconscionable acts, something which social psychology helps to shed light on. Finally, there is consideration given to the long-lasting after effects on the individuals and communities surviving atrocities.

Keywords:   genocide, atrocities, causes, structural factors, social-psychology, perpetrators, victims

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