A recent article in the Washington University Law Quarterly argues that the most important thing we can do to prevent genocide is to ensure that civilian populations are armed:
The question of genocide is one of manifest importance in the closing years of a century that has been extraordinary for the quality and quantity of its bloodshed. As Elie Wiesel has rightly pointed out, "This century is the most violent in recorded history. Never have so many people participated in the killing of so many people."
Recent events in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and many other parts of the world make it clear that the book has not yet been closed on the evil of official mass murder. Contemporary scholars have little explored the preconditions of genocide. Still less have they asked whether a society's weapons policy might be one of the institutional arrangements that contributes to the probability of its government engaging in some of the more extreme varieties of outrage.
Though it is a long step between being disarmed and being murdered--one does not usually lead to the other--but it is nevertheless an arresting reality that not one of the principal genocides of the twentieth century, and there have been dozens, has been inflicted on a population that was armed.
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