Love Thy Neighbor: Genocide in Africa


The murder of an entire group based on their ethnicity, religion, or political views is hardly new. Mass killing has been a technique used for centuries to quell opposition and gain power and influence. This form of domination, whether to create ethnic balance or settle a score, has taken the lives of countless individuals. Since Raphael Lemkin's definition of genocide, it seems to have increased in occurrence and degree. With technological advances and the increasing globalization of society, it has become much easier and more efficient to plan and carry out the murder of millions. It is astonishing that even with the interdependence and ever changing boundaries resulting from globalization, it is still not only possible to accomplish this macabre task, but to do so with the ignorance of the international community.

This thesis examines the causes of genocide focusing on several factors that may lead directly to genocide, or, at a minimum, increase the likelihood of genocide. These factors are: 1) the historical context of countries which experience genocide, specifically the effects of colonialism and challenges from post-colonial dependence; 2) psychological factors, primarily an attitude of impunity; 3) ineffective ( or non-existent) international intervention; 4) ongoing war or domestic conflict; and 5) youth overpopulation. I employ a comparative case study design focusing on three countries: Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Sudan. This research is important for both the scholarly and public policy-making communities to understand several factors that may increase the likelihood of peace, prosperity, and the promotion of human rights. This research also highlights preventative measures and ways in which to reduce the likelihood of future genocide.

The term genocide is defined in two elements: mental and physical. The mental element entails the "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group." (Mamdani, 2001). The physical aspect includes all actions to carry out that intent such as: murder, bodily harm, the deliberate infliction of conditions of life meant physically to destroy, prevention of birth, and the forced transfer of children from their native group to another. There is a serious lack of understanding concerning the basis of genocide and how it develops. Misconceptions that genocide just "spontaneously" happens are primarily perpetuated by outside governments as well as media through the incomplete information it provides to its audiences. The definition of genocide alone gives some indication that genocide must bear intent as well as a plan of action. My thesis illustrates the history of certain genocides, demonstrating that the crime of genocide was painstakingly thought out and executed over a period of time. My research also demonstrates that genocide is a phenomenon that has not only been occurring for centuries, but is also the result of gradual and consistent exploitation and perpetual dependency of less prosperous countries, who people are offered no skills with which to build during their post-colonial period. With the growing interdependence of our world it is of utmost importance to understand that no action taken by one state stays within its borders. Every choice has an effect on the macro, as well as micro, level. Genocide is an action that must be understood as a function of both internal and external factors, before preventative action can be taken.


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Thesis Completion





Jungblut, Bernadette


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program

Political Science


Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences; Africa -- Politics and government; Genocide -- Rwanda; Rwanda -- History -- Civil War, 1994 -- History







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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