Abstract: This essay offers a theory of atrocity propaganda and surveys strategies for countering it. I first review examples of atrocity propaganda disseminated before, during, and after WWI. I then explain how the linguistic tactic of persuasive definition makes it difficult to confirm, or rebut, reports of atrocities. Although both International Criminal Law and International Human Rights Law restrict willfully false stories of enemy misdeeds, these restrictions don’t solve the core problem of distinguishing legitimate and illegitimate reports of atrocities. The essay concludes by outlining steps that can mitigate, but not eliminate, the threat posed by this distinctive form of propaganda.
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In our new issue we feature Jessica Whyte’s piece on Just War, Decolonization and the Geneva Conventions. Also in this issue are essays on humanitarianism, postcolonialism and the fiction of Bessie Head, the international movement for Iranian political prisoners, Mexico’s contribution to International Economic Order, filming force feeding in Guantanamo, and a photo dossier on Asylum/Home. We end with a review essay on the humanitarian conscience.View entire issue >
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The journal Humanity was founded in 2010 to examine the politics of “humanity” found in the convergence of human rights, humanitarianism and development. This was a period when a critique of human rights and the entanglements of humanitarianisms with empire was also gaining momentum. The current editorial collective affirms Humanity’s founding mission while attuning to new challenges. A complex dynamic of old problems and emerging obstacles has occasioned a chastened turn to human rights and humanitarianism: a renewed call to humanity has gained traction in Continue reading →
Edinburgh, October 2018 From migrants facing death at borders around the world, to the different chapters of the “War on Terror,” to the politics of post-genocide, our era seems to be marked by the constant politicisation of death. Social and physical death are increasingly intertwined in various spectacles of horror. Clearly, not all deaths are treated equally. Trenchant questions remain over what kinds of death are deemed morally, political and legally significant; and what kinds of death are rendered visible or invisible, and with what Continue reading →