Defined: Mass Atrocity
‘Mass Atrocity’ is a term you don’t hear much outside the activist world – but it is a very important term indeed. After all, it’s right there in the founding premise for End Impunity: ‘a campaign to stop mass atrocities.’ It seems self-explanatory enough – it’s a… well, it’s a large-scale bad thing, right?
While it seems like any event where a lot of people die or are injured could fall under the definition of “mass atrocity” – the term is correctly used only when the cause of death is via deliberate criminal means. Earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes, while tragic, are not mass atrocities. The Darfur conflict, the Rwanda genocide, and the Holocaust are all mass atrocities.
Three specific crimes fall under the umbrella of “atrocity” – genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. We already talked about genocide on “Defined:” and we will cover the others in weeks to come. There is quite a bit of overlap in each of these terms, but they each have their own individual legal definition. Therefore, “mass atrocity” is the catch-all phrase used to cover any act intentionally perpetrated on a large amount of people that causes their pain and suffering.
To put it in other words, if genocide is apples and war crimes are oranges – mass atrocity is fruit.