A New Tool to Fight Genocide

Why Anti-Money-Laundering Measures Could Be Game Changing

Nuer White Army fighters in Upper Nile State, South Sudan, February 10, 2014. Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

It has been 65 years since the Genocide Convention, drafted in reaction to the Holocaust, first came into force, but the international response to mass atrocities remains largely ineffective. The usual actions—the provision of humanitarian aid, the naming and shaming of war criminals, and peacekeeping, to name a few—are vitally important, but they have not done much of anything to dissuade criminals from abusing human rights.

Take the provision of humanitarian aid. It is a crucial first step in keeping survivors alive, but it is unable to address the root causes of mass atrocities: the incentives for officials and their collaborators to use violence and authoritarian rule to maintain or gain power. At times, when the aid is poorly conceived, as was the case in Somalia during the U.S.-led humanitarian intervention in the 1990s, it even helps reinforce abusive networks. In Somalia, the international community entered into

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