The Charge of Genocide: Racial Hierarchy, Political Discourse, and the Evolution of International Institutions

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This article examines the role of racism in the development of genocide prevention and humanitarian intervention. It offers a brief history of the We Charge Genocide petition during the early 1950s. This petition demonstrated the potential for the emerging international law on genocide to challenge prevailing racial hierarchy. The movement triggered potent racialized anxieties amongst the United States and other colonial powers. Partly as a consequence of this movement, genocide was undermined as a potent international discourse. This article shows how decades later the renewed interest in genocide emerged without any sense of the connections between genocide discourse and protests against racial inequity. As a result, the antigenocide regime viewed genocide principally as a problem of state power rather than racial and colonial hierarchies. This ultimately fostered the development of a postracial regime of global governance in humanitarian institutions, which understand racial conflict as a site of political management rather than a factor in the formation of inequity and violence. The article describes how the suppression of these early struggles for racial justice depoliticized many of the sources of mass violence in the present and influenced the trajectory of practices of humanitarian intervention and genocide prevention.

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International Political Sociology



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