The Threat of Genocide: Understanding and Preventing the “Crime of Crimes”

  • Eyal MayrozEmail author
Reference work entry


This chapter provides a brief introduction to the concept of genocide. From its genesis in the 1940s amid the horrors of World War II, to recent “genocide debates” over the applicability of the word to the plight of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, few legal terms have received as much exposure and notoriety as the “G word” has. A central motivation behind the term’s creation was to sow fear in the hearts of would-be perpetrators of mass atrocities and thus help to prevent future attempts at annihilation of human groups. Seven decades later it may be said that while the power and intensity acquired by the term have exceeded most expectations, the goal of preventing the “crime of crime” from reoccurring remains a vision yet to be fulfilled. The chapter outlines key underlying causes for the perpetration of genocide, presents new insights about its distinctiveness from other mass atrocity crimes, and offers points for continued discussion, as part of the ongoing struggle for transforming the “never again” promise from a cliché to a reality.


Genocide Ethnicity Prevention Genocide Convention Intervention Crime of crimes 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SydneySydneyAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Sérgio Luiz Cruz Aguilar
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculdade de Filosofia e CiênciasSao Paulo State UniversityMaríliaBrazil

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