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Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

  • Module code: PO6007
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 6
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This module will be examining some deeply troubling events in recent history and politics and the various ethical, legal and political responses that they have generated. It has been argued that the Holocaust was a critical turning point, a catastrophe which required a fundamental ethical, legal and political rethinking of how the rights of human beings could be protected when states in the modern world engage in the systematic attempt to murder large numbers of people, including many of their own citizens. The module begins with reflections on the Nazi attempt to eliminate a whole group of people (the Jews) and to murder and enslave millions of others. It then considers a range of responses, including the Nuremberg trials, the Genocide Convention, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It examines a number of cases of genocide and crimes against humanity that have nevertheless occurred subsequently. It evaluates the repeated failure for decades to halt or prevent these crimes and then considers the rethinking caused by the genocides in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the setting up of ad hoc tribunals and an International Criminal Court to prosecute perpetrators and provide justice to victims. It concludes with reflections on how much progress has been made in protecting citizens in a world of sovereign nation states and what forms of justice can work after such crimes have been committed. These are highly contested questions and the module is designed to encourage the critical analysis and evaluation of a wide range of arguments that have been put forward from a variety of perspectives.

Aims

On completion of this module, students should then be able to

  • Show a detailed knowledge of how a number of such crimes have been committed
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of competing explanations of state policies of mass murder
  • Compare and contrast the nature, scope and functions of state-sponsored mass murder in a set of selected cases
  • Evaluate arguments relating to issues of uniqueness, generality and precedent and question the uses to which such different evaluations may be put historically and politically

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students should then be able to

  • Show a detailed knowledge of how a number of such crimes have been committed
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of competing explanations of state policies of mass murder
  • Compare and contrast the nature, scope and functions of state-sponsored mass murder in a set of selected cases
  • Evaluate arguments relating to issues of uniqueness, generality and precedent and question the uses to which such different evaluations may be put historically and politically

Curriculum content

  • 1945 a turning point? – the impact of the Holocaust
  • The Nuremburg Trials and Crimes against Humanity
  • Raphael Lemkin and the Genocide Convention
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • A new framework? Understanding genocide and crimes against humanity from different perspectives
  • Issues of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity during the Cold War:
  • case studies 1-4         
  • Issues of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity in the 1990s:
  • case studies  5-9
  • The International Criminal Tribunals and their limitations – forms of justice and accountability
  • The International Criminal Court
  • Debates about rights and sovereignty in the new millennium
  • Justice and reconciliation after genocide and crimes against humanity

Teaching and learning strategy

The teaching and learning strategy is based on a three-hour teaching block with a lecture component and workshop-interactive component., and the use by students individually and in groups of Study Space. Lectures will provide an overview of the relevant material, mapping out the terrain and identifying key issues and problems, giving students the chance to use their reading and understanding of the lectures to clarify issues, raise questions and engage in a critical dialogue with their tutor and their peers.

The question of genocide and crimes against humanity and the comparability of different cases is sharply contested. Students will be encouraged to engage in debates with each other in the teaching blocks, to consider opposed arguments, and to learn how to respond to criticism from sometimes diametrically opposed perspectives. In order to do so, students will need to synthesise information from a variety of sources, some in print form, some electronic, some audio-visual. Much of this will be directed but they will also be directed to search for material and report critically on what they have found.  Students will be required to bring to each session a record in hard copy of what they have read or watched or listened to each week, and a brief critical evaluation of at least 4 of the sources they have used in preparing for the seminar which they will have shared with a group of fellow students and posted on Study Space where it can be viewed by the tutor and their fellow students.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Workshop 66
Guided independent study 234
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Formative Assessment

The teaching blocks workshop are designed to enable students to practice the appropriate study and critical thinking skills. In these workshops, they will work individually and in small groups on questions and tasks that are designed to develop the skills of argument and critical analysis they need to complete their written assessments. At selected points in each semester, parts of the workshops will be devoted to producing a collective essay plan (worked on in groups) as a formative assessment, with feedback given by the tutor in class, using the marking criteria laid out in the field guide. The aim of these formative exercises is to help students understand how to use these criteria in evaluating their own written work.

Summative Assessment

The summative assessment for this module consists of :

1. A critical bibliography which will involve a review of no more than 1500 words of 3 significant books in the field which offer different explanations of how and why genocide and crimes against humanity have been committed since the Holocaust (40%).

2. An essay of 2500 words (60%).

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
1) Show a detailed knowledge of how, in at least 2 cases, genocide and crimes against humanity have been committed Essays
2) Demonstrate a critical understanding of competing explanations of state policies of mass murder Critical bibliography
3) Compare and contrast the nature, scope and functions of state-sponsored mass murder in at least 2 cases during and after the Cold War Essays
4) Evaluate arguments relating to issues of uniqueness, generality and precedent and question the uses to which such different evaluations may be put historically and politically Critical bibliography and Essay

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
CWK Critical bibliography 40
CWK End-course Essay 60
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Totten,S & Parsons,W eds.(2009)A Century of Genocide.Routledge.

Moses, A.D and Bloxham, D eds. (2011).  The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies, Oxford University Press.

Spencer, P (2012) Genocide since 1945. Routledge.

Robertson, G (2007) Crimes against Humanity. Penguin.

Mettraux, G (2005) International Crimes and Ad Hoc Tribunals. Oxford University Press.

Bibliography recommended reading

Jones, A (2010). Genocide : A Comprehensive Introduction. Routledge.

Weitz, E (2005). A Century of Genocide. Princeton University Press.

Valentino, B (2004) Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the 20th Century. Cornell University Press.

Totten,S and Barltrop, P eds.(2009) The Genocide Studies Reader. Routledge.

Roth, J (2005) Genocide and Human Rights. Palgrave, Macmillan.

Sémelin, J (2007) Purify and Destroy. Hurst.

Geras, N (2012). Crimes against Humanity. Manchester University Press.

Schabas, W (2010). Genocide and International Law- the Crime of Crimes. Cambridge University Press.

Drumbl, M. (2007).Atrocity, Punishment, and International Law. Cambridge University Press.

Schabas, W (2006). The UN International Criminal Tribunals – The Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. Cambridge University Press.

Stover,E and Weinstein, H (2004). My Neighbour, My Enemy – Justice and Community in the Aftermath of Mass Atrocity. Cambridge University Press.

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