Mass Violence and Atrocities | Analysis and New Insights

Law and Order: Tools for Building State Protection Capacity to Prevent Mass Atrocity Crimes

Sean McFate | December 2013


Atrocities often arise from the state’s failure to protect rights and punish perpetrators of violence. A country’s legal system is both a mirror of and a guide for its development, and also a logical first place to prevent bloodshed by creating laws that criminalize human rights violations, mitigate pathways to inhumanity, and foster community reconciliation.

The international community has a wide range of “carrots and sticks” to help avert genocide and mass slaughter, however, the best remedy is to assist states in building their capacity to prevent atrocities in the first place.

In a new policy analysis brief, Dr. Sean McFate—an assistant professor at the National Defense University and a former US paratrooper—answers the question: how can a country’s legal system prevent atrocities?