By Gregory H. Stanton, President, Genocide Watch

(very abridged)


Classification, Symbolization, Discrimination, Dehumanization, Organization, Polarization, Preparation, Persecution, Termination, Denial

Genocide is a process that develops in ten stages that are predictable but not inexorable

At each stage, preventive measures can stop it

The process is not linear

Stages may occur simultaneously


Categories to distinguish people into “us and them” by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality: German and Jew, Hutu and Tutsi


We name people “Jews” or “Gypsies”, or distinguish them by colours or dress 

Classification and symbolization are universally human and do not necessarily result in genocide unless they lead to dehumanization

  When combined with hatred, symbols may be forced upon unwilling members of pariah groups: the yellow star for Jews under Nazi rule, the blue scarf for people from the Eastern Zone in Khmer Rouge Cambodia


A dominant group uses law, custom, and political power to deny the rights of other groups

 The powerless group may not be accorded full civil rights or even citizenship

 An example is the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 in Nazi Germany, which stripped Jews of their German citizenship, and prohibited their employment by the government and by universities


 One group denies the humanity of the other group

Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases

 Dehumanization overcomes the normal human revulsion against murder

 Hate propaganda in print, radio, TV is used to vilify the victim group


Genocide is always organized, usually by the state, often using militias to provide deniability of state responsibility

 Special army units or militia are often trained and armed

 Plans are made for genocidal killings


 Extremists drive the groups apart

 Hate groups broadcast polarizing propaganda

 Laws may forbid intermarriage or social interaction


National or perpetrator group leaders plan the “Final Solution” to the Jewish, Armenian, Tutsi or other targeted group “question” 

 They often use euphemisms to cloak their intentions, such as referring to their goals as “ethnic cleansing,” “purification,” or “counter-terrorism” 

 They build armies, buy weapons and train their troops and militias

 They indoctrinate the populace with fear of the victim group

 Leaders often claim that “if we don’t kill them, they will kill us” 


Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity

 Death lists are drawn up

 In state sponsored genocide, members of victim groups may be forced to wear identifying symbols

 Their property is often expropriated

 Sometimes they are segregated into ghettos, deported into concentration camps, or confined to a famine-struck region and starved

 Genocidal massacres begin

 They are acts of genocide because they intentionally destroy part of a group


Begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing legally called “genocide”

 It is “extermination” to the killers because they do not believe their victims to be fully human

 When it is sponsored by the state, the armed forces often work with militias to do the killing

 10.    DENIAL

Denial is the final stage that lasts throughout and always follows a genocide

 It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres

 The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses

 They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims

 They block investigations of the crimes, and continue to govern until driven from power by force, when they flee into exile

 There they remain with impunity, like Pol Pot or Idi Amin, unless they are captured and a tribunal is established to try them