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Fundamentals of Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention


Fundamentals of Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention, an atrocity prevention book by noted genocide scholar Scott Straus, presents key insights into US and international efforts to prevent genocide and mass atrocities worldwide.

This book is available in English and French.

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Since the Holocaust and World War II, an international community of policy makers, scholars, and activists has developed a loose network of norms, institutions, and policy tools to prevent and respond to acts of mass violence against civilians. Fundamentals analyzes the normative, legal, and operational opportunities and challenges associated with preventing genocide and mass atrocities to date, and identifies unresolved issues in this nascent field of study and practice. It also offers important insights into opportunities to strengthen both our understanding of and our ability to implement policies and programs to stop the world’s worst violence. 

Geared toward practitioners and students seeking a preliminary introduction to key issues, this volume surveys research and policy questions at the heart of efforts to prevent genocide and mass atrocities. Among these questions are:

  • How are genocide and mass atrocity defined?
  • Why do genocide and mass atrocities occur?
  • What are the tools available to policy makers to prevent genocide and mass atrocities?
  • How can societies be rebuilt after genocide and mass atrocities?
  • How has the international community responded to atrocities in the past, and how can we think about trends in violence that might drive more effective future responses?

This volume will make these dilemmas approachable for an expanding community of activists, graduate and undergraduate students, scholars, policy makers, and civil society leaders.

On October 14, 2016, Simon-Skjodt Center deputy director Naomi Kikoler joined Scott Straus and Adam Lupel, vice president of the International Peace Institute, for a discussion of FundamentalsLearn more and watch the event.

In 2022 author Scott Straus wrote an updated author’s note reflecting on the state of genocide and mass atrocity prevention since the book’s launch. This was created as part of the International Criminal Justice Leadership Project led by the Museum in support of the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. A french translation of Fundamentals of Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention will be available in early 2023. 

"In this timely and engaging book, Straus surveys the theory and practice of atrocities prevention and response. Demonstrating his breadth as a scholar, Straus draws from the interdisciplinary academic research and a range of real-world case studies to catalog the various legal and policy tools available to those working in at-risk or emerging atrocity situations. This text is essential reading for anyone committed to the atrocities prevention imperative, as a policymaker, aid worker, diplomat, or academic."

Beth Van Schaack, Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor in Human Rights, Stanford Law School, and former Senior Adviser, Office of Global Criminal Justice, US Department of State

About the Author

Scott Straus is an American political scientist currently serving as a Professor of Political Science at the University of California-Berkeley, who studies political violence, genocide, human rights, and post-conflict politics with an empirical focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. He is the author or editor of nine books, including Making and Unmaking Nations: War, Leadership, and Genocide in Modern Africa.