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Mass Atrocities Perpetrated by Non-state Actors

Members of the Al Qaeda-affiliated militant group Al Shabaab give themselves up to forces of the African Union Mission in Somalia.

Most episodes of mass atrocities over the course of history have been perpetrated by states. As a result, most scholarship on mass atrocities has focused on understanding why states choose to attack large numbers of civilians and how they can be prevented from doing so. In recent years, however, some of the most visible and egregious campaigns of mass atrocities have been committed by non-state groups, such as the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Moreover, there are indications that non-state mass atrocities might be becoming more frequent. Future efforts to prevent atrocities should be informed by a greater understanding of the ways in which non-state mass atrocities are similar to and different from those committed by states.

Museum initiatives

Cyanne Loyle Joins Simon-Skjodt Center as Fellow on Mass Atrocities by Non-state Actors

Cyanne Loyle, assistant professor of political science at Indiana University, has joined the Simon-Skjodt Center as the Leonard and Sophie Davis Genocide Prevention Fellow. She is developing a research workplan on mass atrocities perpetrated by non-state actors and conducting original research on this topic. Learn More.

2016 Sudikoff Seminar: Advancing Research on Mass Atrocities Perpetrated by Non-state Actors

International scholars, civil society representatives, and US Government officials convened at the Museum to discuss the state of research about mass atrocities perpetrated by non-state actors and policy efforts to prevent them. Learn More.