Politics International Relations Analysis of


Group dynamics in a particular ethnic context, coupled with negative perception of "the other" and subjective images have been and often are a recipe for disaster. This was the case in the Rwandan Genocide and in the Bosnian Wars in the 1990's, and is, sadly, the norm in the Democratic Republic of Congo today. This part of the paper, due to limited writing space, will only focus on the Rwandan Genocide and the Bosnian Wars of succession in the break-up of Yugoslavia in Europe with an attempt to explain these traumatic events for the countries involved, and what can be done to avoid them in the future.

Such seemingly singular events in humanity as the Rwandan Genocide and the Bosnian Wars should have no precursor and no successor. They should be anomalies. Sadly, this is not the case. Not only was the Rwandan Genocide not the first such event (it was preceded by the Holocaust, after all) it was not the last. Around the same time that Rwanda was happening, the Bosnian-Serbian wars began in Eastern Europe. Though the two issues are completely different in causes and events, they are similar in that the perception of "other" led to mass atrocity.

When looking at these nations (Rwanda, Bosnia and Serbia), all of which are peaceful today, it is hard to believe that less than two decades ago people were being slaughtered in their streets, in their houses, and thrown in mass graves with no respect. This kind of inhumanity towards fellow man is hard to accept, much less describe. But some nations, as seen from this analysis, do engage in genocide. They can do so because various groups are threatened by various factors, including a negative concept of "the other" (which may be a person with a different ethnicity or religion or both) or simple financial and political reasons. Often, the negative concepts within society reinforce other reasons, and vice versa, creating a complex cause to violent conflict. The negative concepts fostered in these societies are also further reinforced by factors such as financial differences, ethnic dominance of one group over the other, media encouragement, etc. In fact, both in Bosnia and Rwanda, the media played a great part in facilitation and even encouraging the mass killings. In both, financial or political differences (such as those between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda historically), also played a big part in both conflicts.

The reality of genocide is acute, as these examples show. It is also quite disheartening that mass killings are still happening around the world today, most notably in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, there are solutions to ending mass violence. Often, even in our society, there is intra-group hostility. This kind of hostility can contribute to ensuing chaos, and must be one of the most important issues examined to help bring about an end to mass violence. What can prevent this kind of hostility is often help: be it social, financial or political. For example, in the Congo today, of a rich person were to give people equal amounts of money, teach them how to set up political institutions or establish better communications and working relationships, maybe such an individual could help end the conflict. Though this is a simplistic and perhaps idealistic solutions, it may be the basis to more complex solutions that non-governmental organizations with working country knowledge can establish.

Genocide is a horrible phenomenon, but it is still happening. Wishing it away will not work. It did not work in Rwanda, in Bosnia, in the Congo and will never work. Thus, we have to examine solutions for ending conflict in its incipience, and providing people with alternative means to occupy their time and solve their disputes.