The word genocide was derived from the Greek root genos (people) and the Latin root cide (killing), and did not exist in the English language until 1944, which was the end of World War II (Power). According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, genocide is “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.” Such violence occurred during the Holocaust and during the separation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The problems of ethnic cleansing and repression have become so prevalent in the last century that they have contributed to two world wars, over fourteen million deaths, and a new word. United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said, “Far from being consigned to history, genocide and its ilk remain a serious threat. Not just vigilance but a willingness to act are as important today as ever.”
Genocide is a pressing issue with a multitude of questions and debates surrounding it. It is the opinion of many people that the United Nations should not get involved with or try to stop ongoing genocide because of costs or impositions on the rights of a country, but what about the rights of an individual? The UN should get involved in human rights crimes that may lead to genocide to prevent millions of deaths, save money on humanitarian aid and clean up, and fulfill their responsibilities to stop such crimes. It is preferable to stop genocide before it occurs through diplomacy, but if necessary, military force may be used as a last resort. Navi Pillay, Human Rights High Commissioner, stated, “Concerted efforts by the international community at critical moments in time could prevent the escalation of violence into genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity or ethnic cleansing.”
If genocide is prevented, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent lives may be saved. The Holocaust alone had an estimated eleven million victims, and in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, more than 800,000 of the Tutsi people were killed in just 100 days (“Past Genocides and Mass Atrocities”). Ethics demand that the UN does all that it can to prevent this kind of bloodshed. Most people would agree that it is heartless to ignore situations such as these, yet there are idle watchers of each catastrophe of this nature. Some turn their heads as if they can pretend the events are not occurring, but the fact is these crimes are real and the victims need aid. Mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters are being murdered and assaulted regardless of age; babies, elderly, and young adults are all treated with the same level of brutality, and it needs to stop. Educated and well planned intervention by the UN, in behalf of the victims, would save thousands of people from torture, death, and intolerable persecution.
It is more cost efficient to prevent a genocide, or stop it early, than to clean up the devastation left in the wake of such an incident. Gregory Stanton is an expert on genocide at George Mason University in Virginia. He said, “It's always less...