1st Edition

Perpetrators of Mass Atrocities Terribly and Terrifyingly Normal?

By Alette Smeulers Copyright 2024
    600 Pages
    by Routledge

    600 Pages
    by Routledge

    The 9/11 attacks, as well as the ones in Madrid, London, Paris and Brussels; the genocides in Nazi Germany, Rwanda and Cambodia; the torture in dictatorial regimes; the wars in former Yugoslavia, Syria and Iraq and currently in Ukraine; the sexual violence during periods of conflict, all make us wonder: why would anyone do something like that? Who are these people? Drawing on 30 years of research, in this book Alette Smeulers explores the perpetrators of mass atrocities such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and terrorism. Examining questions of why people kill and torture and how mass atrocities can be explained, Smeulers presents a typology of perpetrators, with different ranks, roles and motives.

    Devoting one chapter to each type of perpetrator, the book combines insights from academic research with illustrative case studies of well-known perpetrators, from dictators to middlemen, to lower ranking officials and terrorists. Their stories are explored in depth as the book examines their behaviour and motivation. Perpetrators of Mass Atrocities thus provides a comprehensive understanding of the causes of extreme mass violence. Such knowledge not only can help the international criminal justice system to be able to attribute blame in a fairer way but can also assist in preventing such atrocities being committed on the current scale.

    Perpetrators of Mass Atrocities is essential reading for all those interested in war crimes, genocide, terrorism and mass violence

    Introduction  1.The Criminal Mastermind  2.The Fanatic  3.The Careerist  4.The Devoted Warrior  5.The Professional  6.The True Believer  7.The Holy Warrior  8.The Avenger  9.The Profiteer  10.The Criminal  11.The Predator  12.The Deranged  13.The Follower  14.The Compromised  Conclusion


    Alette Smeulers is a professor at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Her research, which takes an inter- and multidisciplinary approach, focuses on the causes and perpetrators of international crimes and terrorism, as well as the international criminal justice systems dealing with these crimes. She has published extensively on these subjects within a wide variety of journals and given numerous presentations at international conferences all over the world. She can be considered one of the founders of supranational criminology, the criminology of international crimes, and she is a passionate lecturer. For more information, see her personal webpage: https:// alettesmeulers .org/.

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    "In this ground-breaking volume, Prof. Smeulers summarizes findings of three decades of research on perpetrators of mass atrocities. On the basis of her extensive database, she developed an original classification of more than a dozen types of perpetrators. Surprisingly, this typology manages to unlock the door to a new and differentiated understanding of evil as specific human weaknesses that allow certain manifestations of violence to occur. In doing so, she offers the international criminal justice system a new instrument to assess levels of responsibility for crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes and terrorism."
    Prof. em. Alex P. Schmid, former Research Coordinator of PIOOM the Interdisciplinary Research Programme on Root Causes of Human Rights Violations.

    "This is an outstanding book. It classifies high level perpetrators of extreme mass violence, the killing of large numbers of people, such as the Criminal Mastermind, the Careerist, the Fanatic, the True Believer, altogether 14 categories. It gives detailed examples of each type, from varied countries, describing their life histories and actions. The book is highly informative, easy to read, a tremendous contribution to the literature on atrocities."
    Ervin Staub, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, author of The Roots of Evil, Overcoming Evil, and The Roots of Goodness and Resistance to Evil.

    "Smeuler’s typology of perpetrators of mass atrocities authoritatively deconstructs the criminal pyramid to unfold the role(s) played by each actor in the spiral leading to the Unthinkable. Building a bridge to the courtroom, Smeulers’ typology is key to apprehend individual criminal responsibility. A must-read for international criminal law practitioners."
    Caroline Fournet, Professor of Law at the University of Exeter and Editor-in-Chief of International Criminal Law Review.

    "Alette Smeulers has written an amazing book that is a must-read for scholars and policy makers in the field of atrocity crimes and human rights in general. Drawing on her previous work about persons engaged in extreme violence and serious human rights violations, she has now produced an extensive and innovative typology of perpetrators. Each of them contains activities, justifications, personality traits and the social context of specific offenders and their offences. This book hugely increases the readers' understanding of the who, why and how of the heinous crimes committed, and also provide very valuable options for the repression and prevention of such behaviour."
    Stephan Parmentier, Professor of Criminology and Human Rights at KU Leuven, and Specialized in Political Crimes and Transitional Justice