When states go bad: The termination of state perpetrated mass killing

Bellamy, Alex J. (2015) When states go bad: The termination of state perpetrated mass killing. Journal of Peace Research, 52 5: 565-576. doi:10.1177/0022343315569333

Author Bellamy, Alex J.
Title When states go bad: The termination of state perpetrated mass killing
Journal name Journal of Peace Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0022-3433
Publication date 2015-09
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/0022343315569333
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 52
Issue 5
Start page 565
End page 576
Total pages 12
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Sage Publications
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
To date, little attention has been paid to the question of how episodes of mass killing are terminated. This has allowed several misconceptions, such as the notion that external armed intervention is a principal form of ending, to arise and profit. This study presents preliminary findings from a survey of cases of state perpetrated mass killing since 1945. It examines the forms of ending, finding that around half end only when the perpetrators themselves decide to end the killing, usually because they have accomplished their goals. It also explores the relationships between modes of termination and lethality and the resilience of different types of ending and offers insights into the implications for policy of some of these findings. It argues that foreign armed intervention is extremely rare and does not deserve, therefore, to be the common ‘go to’ option of advocates and analysts. Instead, presuming that armed intervention is off the table, it is more important to think in terms of what can be done to shape the perpetrators’ incentive structures or encourage internal dissent within the perpetrating elite. Finally, it shows that there is no easy overlap between what is morally palatable and what saves lives. Arming rebels may be morally pleasing, but may lead to protracted civil wars with atrocities – the worst of all outcomes. Likewise, negotiating to secure the state perpetrators’ core interests may feel immoral but might stop the killing and save lives.
Keyword Genocide
Mass atrocities
Civil War
Humanitarian Intervention
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Political Science and International Studies Publications
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