The Slippery Slope to Genocide: Reducing Identity Conflicts and Preventing Mass Murder

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Genocide results from the culmination of conflicts over identity. A group of people that feels threatened by extinction resorts to genocide as a pathologically defensive reaction. This poses a security dilemma that can only be broken by quelling the feelings of threat and fear that prompt mass violence. In order to prevent genocide, it is essential to understand the internal dynamics of identity conflict. It is also important to intervene at the early stages of identity conflict; the parties involved require external help to ease tensions.

In this volume, noted thinkers and practitioners of conflict management, who hail from ten different countries, present ideas on how to prevent identity issues from causing fear and escalating into genocide. They focus on measures for handling the internal dynamics of parties facing identity conflicts, as well as considerations for arranging external assistance. Contributors address the problem of outbidders, actors whose non-conciliatory attitudes put them in positions of leadership in their identity groups. Since political extremism and violence can signal resolve and commitment to a group cause, moderates give way to hardliners. Spoilers, who believe that peace undermines their interests and power, also play a key role in the dynamics of conflicts. Careful attention is necessary to select appropriate third parties who can pull conflicting parties off the course of conflict. The authors discuss the concepts and practices involved in changing structures and attitudes to ease tensions, as well as the measures interveners must take to work in the midst of conflicting groups.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This well-edited collection is a sophisticated, timely, state-of-the-art analysis of a notoriously difficult set of conflict management issues. Both scholars and practitioners will find it seriously useful in helping identify which of the legion of identity-difference situations around the world have the potential to turn murderous, and what kinds of diplomatic intervention are most likely to be successful in preventing and reacting to such catastrophes." — Gareth Evans, Co-Chair, International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty; President Emeritus, International Crisis Group; Former Foreign Minister of Australia; and author of The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All

"The positive notion of identity has far too often been exploited by forces aiming to aggravate tensions between groups of different religions or ethnic backgrounds. In my own mediation work in Africa and the Middle East, I have often noted how the dimension of identity complicates and prolongs the search for solutions. This book contains a number of sharp and valuable analyses and ideas on how to prevent identity issues from creating fear and escalating into genocide. It is of high relevance to both national and international actors involved in or affected by identity challenges." — Jan Eliasson, Former President of the United Nations General Assembly and Former Minister for Foreign Affairs in Sweden

"William Zartman is one of the greatest scholars of conflict resolution and violence prevention. This book, with excellent collaboration, is the culmination of his superb scholarship on this crucial topic and will be valuable on a worldwide basis." — David A. Hamburg, President Emeritus, Carnegie Corporation of New York; DeWitt Wallace Distinguished Scholar, Weill Cornell Medical College; and Visiting Scholar, American Association for the Advancement of Science

"In this theoretically rigorous edited volume, prominent scholars of conflict resolution and violence prevention offer insight as to how and under what conditions negotiation can be used as an effective tool for combating violent identity conflicts in different sociocultural settings. This erudite book is a valuable resource for students and scholars of conflict management and resolution. Summing Up: Highly recommended." — N. Entessar, University of South Alabama, CHOICE

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199791743
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/17/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

I. William Zartman is Jacob Blaustein Professor Emeritus at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington DC. His books include Cowardly Lions: Missed Opportunities to Prevent Deadly Conflict and State Collapse and Negotiation and Conflict Management.

Mark Anstey is Emeritus Professor at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and was a professor with Michigan State University in Dubai from 2008 to 2011. He has also taught in several South African universities. Involved in promoting peace in South Africa, he served as Director of Monitoring (Eastern Cape) for the Independent Electoral Commission in the country's historic 1994 elections.

Paul Meerts is Advisor to the Director of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations at Clingendael. He is a visiting professor at the College of Europe (Bruges), the University of Economics (Prague), and the UNESCO Institute for Water Education (Delft).

All three editors are on the Steering Committee for the Processes of International Negotiation Network at the International Institute for Applied Systems.

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Table of Contents

Part I. Introduction

Chapter 1: The Problem: Preventing Identity Conflicts and Genocide
Mark Anstey and I. William Zartman

Chapter 2: The Roots and Prevention of Genocide and Related Mass Violence
Ervin Staub

Part II. Internal Dynamics: The Parties

Chapter 3: The Identity Trap: Managing Paradox in Crisis Bargaining
William A. Donohue

Chapter 4: The Identity Narratives
Jesús Romero-Trillo

Chapter 5: Negotiating Memories and Justice in the Philippines
Ariel Macaspac Penetrante

Chapter 6: Diasporas and the Politics of Identity in International Negotiations
Fen Osler Hampson

Chapter 7: Outbidding and the Decision to Negotiate
Jannie Liljia

Chapter 8: The Insides of Identity and Intragroup Conflict
Jay Rothman

Chapter 9: Handling Spoilers and the Prospect of Violence
Marie-Joëlle Zahar

Part III. Intervention Dynamics: The Mediator

Chapter 10: Mediation and Identity Conflicts
Joshua Smilovitz

Chapter 11: The Challenge of Partnerism
Moty Cristal

Chapter 12: Conditions for Internal Conflict Resolution through External Intervention
Frank Pfetsch

Chapter 13: Who Gets What in Peace Agreements?
David Cunningham

Chapter 14: Evolving International Law of Intervention and Prevention
Franz Cede, University of Budapest

Chapter 15: The International Community Response
Peter Wallensteen, Frida Möller, and Erik Melander

Chapter 16: OSCE HCNM: Strategies of the Legitimate Intervener in Internal Identity Conflicts
Fedor Meerts and Tassos Coulaloglou

Chapter 17: Negotiating Out of Conflict: External Interventions in Africa
Mark Anstey

Part IV. Conclusions

Chapter 18: Lessons for Theory
I. William Zartman and Mark Anstey

Chapter 19:Lessons for Practice
Mart Anstey and Paul Meerts

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