Triumph of Ethnic Hatred and the Failure of International Political Will: Gendered Violence and Violence in the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda

Author: Zawati, Hilmi

Awarded the Adele Mellen Prize for Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship
This inquiry is carried out in three interrelated parts. The first part explores the roots of ethnic conflict in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and analytically discusses the mechanisms and motivations that led to genocidal rape, ethnic cleansing and mass killings in these regions. It reveals and analyzes the dramatic and overwhelming relationship between national extremism, mass killings, and sexual violence in ethno-national conflicts.

The second part of this analysis establishes a framework for understanding the nature and contours of sexual violence through case-studies of systematic rape as an integral element of ethnic conflict and genocide in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. It provides a critical view of the ideology of wartime sexual violence and wartime rape motivations as among the most destructive weapons of war, highlighting the historical invisibility of this crime in which women were, and still are, the major targets and most vulnerable victims.

Finally, part three of this volume discloses the equivocal role of the international community in managing the crisis. It addresses the ambiguous question of why the international community, represented by United Nations peacekeeping missions, was unable to prevent or to stop the mass killing and atrocities.


“Whatever the sources or combination of sources, how do these inter-ethnic suspicions and hatreds translate into violence targeting women—specifically, rape? If we have answers to those questions, will those answers help prevent and mitigate mass atrocities? If so, how? If we do not have the answers, how do we respond to the victims of these tragedies? This ambitious book explores all these issues. A reader does not have to agree with some or even many of the answers proffered, but she will still finish reading the book overwhelmed with its comprehensiveness and stimulated by the probing questions.” – Prof. Howard Adelman, York Univeristy

“. . . serves as a severe rebuke to the international community - in general - and industrialised countries - in particular - that have not done what was in their power to prevent such disasters before they occurred or to stop them once they had started. By highlighting where and how the international systems failed hundreds of thousands of innocent victims and by identifying possible reforms to the institutional structures of the current world order, this book helps us transcend the rage and despair caused by such large scale tragedies and allows us to start imagining what could be done to limit future reoccurrences of these crimes against humanity.” – Prof. Hugo Cyr, Université du Québec a Montréal

“. . . Dr. Zawati’s analysis and thesis is avant-garde: he brilliantly lays the groundwork for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1820 which confronts sexual violence in conflict and post- conflict situations and establishes a direct relationship between the widespread and/or systematic use of sexual violence as an instrument of conflict and the maintenance of international peace and security. Policy makers, scholars, activists and survivors will find in this impeccably researched and documented book a treasure of diverse resources and comprehensive arguments to use in advocating for the implementation of Resolution 1820 without delay. This seminal research will be useful for years to come and plays a crucial part in breaking the increasingly uncomfortable silence that surrounds these issues.” – Isabelle Solon Helal, Coalition for Women’s Human Rights in Conflict Situations

Table of Contents

Pronunciation of the Arabic and Serbian Cyrillic Alphabets
Preface by Howard Adelman
Part One
Historicism and Inter-Religious Hatred: The Roots of Ethnic Conflicts
Chapter One: Roots of Ethnic Conflicts: Mechanisms and Motivations
I. Ancient Hatred: The Seeds of Ethnic Cleansing
1. Nationalism and Hatred among the Yugoslav People
2. Racism, Colonialism, and the Devastation of the Rwandan People
II. Genesis of Ethnic Division
1. Origins of Yugoslavia’s Ethnic Division
2. Colonialism and Rwanda’s Ethnic Disintegration
III. Genocidal Media: Inciting Systematic Rape and Repressing the Truth
1. Propagating Hatred, Clashing Myths, and National Stereotypes
2. Misinformation and Truth Repression
3. Genocidal Media and International Law
4. Prosecuting Hate Propaganda under International Criminal Law
Concluding Remarks
Chapter Two: Historicism, Nationalism, and Religious Prejudice
I. Inter-Religious Hatred and Extremism
1. Ethno-Religious Nationalism among the Yugoslav Nations
2. The Rwandan Church and Race Supremacy
II. Nationalism and Ethnic Cleansing
1. Racism and Ethnic Divergence of the Rwandan People
2. Historicism and National Extremism as Shapers of the Yugoslavs’ Ethnic Identities
3. Ethnic Cleansing: The Definitive National Strategy
Concluding Remarks
Part Two
Weapons of Mass Destruction: Mass Killings and Systematic Sexual Violence
Chapter Three: Counting Down to Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide
I. Commitment to Genocide
1. Turning Points in the Yugoslav Nations’ Modern History
2. Mechanisms for Promoting the Rwandan Genocide
II. Destruction of Nations
1. The Outbreak of Violence on a Massive Scale
2. Well-Engineered Mass Killings
Concluding Remarks
Chapter Four: Gendered Violence as a Weapon of Mass Destruction
I. Women, Armed Conflict and the Ideology of Sexual Violence
1. Militarism and Sexual Violence
2. Wartime Rape Motivations
3. Women as Primary Targets and the Most Vulnerable of Victims
II. Wartime Rape and Ethno-Religious Nationalism
1. Shaping the Rapists’ Ethno-National Agenda
2. Gender as a Double-Edged, Powerful Weapon
3. A Deliberate Policy of Ethnic Cleansing and a Brutal Act of Execution
Concluding Remarks
Part Three
The International Response to the Crisis: Dominant Failure of Political Will and Lack of Interest
Chapter Five: The International Response to the Crisis
I. Early Warning and Conflict Management
1. Building an Effective Early Warning System
2. Early Warning but Reluctant Early Action
II. The Failure of International Will: Arming Genocide or Taking No Action
1. Failure of Political Will and Lack of Interest
2. Arming Genocide or Taking No Action
III. United Nations Response to the Crisis
1. The Mismanagement of the Conflicts
2. The Safe Areas Betrayed
Concluding Remarks
Chapter Six: Politics vs. Justice: The Ethics of Humanitarian and Diplomatic Intervention
I. NATO’s “Bellum Justum”: Fighting for Values and a New Internationalism
1. The Mounting Violence
2. On the Brink of War: This Time the Wolf Was There!
3. Justifying Operation Allied Force
4. Was the OAF a Lawful Action?
II. Peace without Justice
1. Politics Overrides Legal Principles
2. Shaking Hands with the Monster
3. Arusha, Dayton, and Rambouillet: The Incomplete Peace
Concluding Remarks
Conclusion: Post-Crisis Scenario: Quo Vadis?
Selected Bibliography
Subject Index
Index of Geographic Names
Index of Personal Names
Cases Index
Treaties Index