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December 8, 2014
Human rights groups and the United Nations have been warning that Burundi’s elections in 2015 could spark a genocide, but the Early Warning Project’s risk assessments so far indicate that Burundi is not at especially high risk of state-led mass killing. To explore this discrepancy, I asked a handful of experts for their views on this case. While all of the sources I interviewed agreed that the UN was right to be concerned, they disagreed on how severe the risk is and how a new episode of state-led mass killing might come about.
November 13, 2014
In a small but meaningful gesture, the photographs on the cover of the UN’s new framework of analysis for assessing the risk of genocide and other mass atrocities go beyond what I call the genocide canon—the cases of Armenia, the Holocaust, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and, of late, Darfur that are typically cited to prick people’s conscience and spur action by policymakers—to include images from East Timor, Guatemala, and Cambodia [see below; captions are on page ii of the document].
November 8, 2014
Bridget Conley-Zilkic is research director at the World Peace Foundation and assistant professor of research at Tufts University's The Fletcher School. From 2001 to 2011, she worked on issues related to contemporary genocide at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
November 2, 2014
The man who ruled Burkina Faso for 27 years fell from office a few days ago, and the contours of the transition that will follow remain unclear. The Early Warning Project's statistical risk assessments suggest that this tumult has roughly doubled the risk of an onset of state-led mass killing in Burkina Faso for the next year or more, likely pushing it into the top 30 when those estimates are next updated in early 2015. The several area experts we consulted in the past 48 hours, however, all indicated that this worst-case scenario was highly unlikely to happen.
October 16, 2014
One of the countries hit hardest by this year's Ebola epidemic, Guinea, is also one of the countries most susceptible to an onset of state-led mass killing, according to our statistical risk assessments. This conjunction is not entirely accidental. And, while the Ebola epidemic almost certainly won’t lead directly to mass atrocities, the effects the epidemic is having on Guinea’s political economy could indirectly increase that risk in coming months.
October 8, 2014
In the 1990s and early 2000s, the Russian government defeated a separatist insurgency in Chechnya with a scorched-earth campaign that killed thousands of civilians and displaced hundreds of thousands more. Despite that ostensible victory, Russia continues to battle separatist insurgents in its North Caucasus region, of which Chechnya is a part.
October 2, 2014
This week, the International Crisis Group issued a new briefing on Zimbabwe that portrays a country on simmer. "Zimbabwe is an insolvent and failing state," writes ICG Africa Program director Comfort Ero, "its politics zero sum, its institutions hollowing out, and its once vibrant economy moribund." Without significant changes of course in economic policy and elite behavior, the report warns, the risk of a sharper crisis and deeper collapse will continue to grow.
September 29, 2014
Activists have massed by the thousands in central Hong Kong for the past several days in defiance of repeated attempts to disperse them and menacing words from Beijing. This demonstration and the wider Occupy Central movement from which it draws poses one of the sharpest public challenges to Communist Party authority since the Tiananmen Square uprising 25 years ago. In so doing, it clearly raises the risk of a new mass atrocity in China.
September 15, 2014
Xinjiang is China's westernmost region, far removed from Beijing and officially known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Most residents of the XUAR are Uyghurs, who are Turkic, speak their own language, and are largely Muslim. While the region has periodically been under Chinese rule for centuries, the people are culturally more similar to their Central Asian neighbors. Separatist activity and ethnic tension is not uncommon, but historically there have only been a few incidents of mass violence.
September 12, 2014
We recently asked our Expert Opinion Pool, "Before 1 January 2015, will an episode of state-led mass killing occur in Yemen?"