Genocide is one of the most vexing global challenges we face. The 20th century, haunted by the Holocaust, Rwanda, Cambodia, Ottoman Turkey, and other episodes of mass violence, has been referred to as “the century of genocide” Already in the 21st century, genocide has struck in Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Syria and genocide alerts are issued with alarming frequency.
What can be done? While some diplomatic, governmental, and non-governmental initiatives have been recently undertaken to work on genocide prevention, there has less academic focus on this issue. CGHR’s UNESCO Chair in Genocide Prevention seeks fill this gap by undertaking research, scholarship, education, and outreach on this topic. In doing so, it combines a rigorous academic approach with an effort to seek engagement between scholars and practitioners.
The UNESCO Chair in Genocide Prevention builds on a tradition of genocide studies at Rutgers. Raphael Lemkin, the scholar/activist who coined the term genocide and worked tirelessly for its criminalization in international law, taught at Rutgers-Newark in the mid-1950s, creating a tradition of interest in genocide, conflict resolution. Other Rutgers professors subsequently undertook research and advocacy on genocide and genocide prevention. Then, in 2007, Rutgers established the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights.
In partnership with UNESCO, the UNESCO Chair in Genocide Prevention, launched in 2013, builds upon this academic tradition at Rutgers of engaged scholarship and grappling with genocide. As part of its UNESCO Chair and Raphael Lemkin Project, CGHR is launching an annual Raphael Lemkin Award and Lecture, to be held the week of December 9, the date the 1948 UN Genocide Convention was passed and is now designated as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.
UNESCO Chair Executive Committee
Stephen Eric Bronner, Executive Committee Member