Destruction and Control: The Problem of Genocide in Civil War
The idea of ‘genocide’ is almost universally invoked by actors in civil wars to describe atrocities alleged against their enemies, and it is central to public arguments about the policy responses of the UN and Western states. Is it, however, also an appropriate analytical concept, and if so how should genocide’s relationships to civil war be understood? Why do some actors go beyond civil war violence towards action that aims to destroy population groups, territorially and/or physically? Key to answering these questions is establishing whether an armed actor does or does not intend to govern a population it controls, and whether it pursues ‘control’ or ‘extermination’. The case of Bosnia will be used to illustrate how these questions relate to historical practice.