Genocide: Ethical and Normative Perspectives

Authored by: Adam Jones

The Ashgate Research Companion to Ethics and International Relations

Print publication date:  September  2009
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754671015
eBook ISBN: 9781315612935
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043546


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At first glance, the title of this chapter must seem an oxymoron. Few sociopolitical phenomena appear as cut and dried, from an ethical standpoint, as genocide – defined as the destruction of human groups, particularly (under international law) national, ethnic, racial and religious ones. Genocide has been called ‘the crime of crimes’: the ne plus ultra of collective violence. Surely, if ethical considerations are to hold any sway in international affairs, they impose a blanket ban on acts of genocide, and a positive obligation to prevent it or, failing that, to suppress it with all due dispatch and punish its perpetrators to the full limits of the law.

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