The Problems of Genocide

I am interested in the various problems of genocide: not only the terrible fact of mass death, but also how the relatively new idea and law of genocide organises and distorts our thinking about civilian destruction. Taking the normative perspective of civilian immunity from military attack that international law and norms ostensibly prioritize, my book argues that their implicit hierarchy, atop which sits genocide as the “crime of crimes,” blinds us to other types of humanly caused civilian death, like bombing cities and the “collateral damage” of missile and drone strikes, blockades, and sanctions. In other words, talk of genocide functions ideologically to detract from systematic violence against civilians perpetrated by governments, including Western ones. Continue reading

A Matter of Security? Conscientious Objection and State Recognition

Recognition of the right to refuse military service seems at first glance to be inherently paradoxical. Yet over the course of recent decades, with the broadening of democratic discourse, democracies have begun to recognize even opposition to military service on grounds of conscience—whether religious or otherwise. Continue reading

Civil Liberty in Crisis? Evidence from a Comparative Empirical Study

Is there a fundamental trade-off between collective security and individual liberty? This question is by no means a new one for democratic societies. Long before the Islamist terror threat scenarios of the 2000s, Western democracies had been menaced by domestic terrorism, violent separatism, and organized crime and their reaction was always the same: security laws were tightened, new tools for keeping citizens under surveillance were created, the rights of suspects, accused persons, and convicts were restricted. Continue reading