The Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity tackles a difficult and often horrific subject. It looks at the worst, but also the best, of human behavior. The set is designed to offer the reader information about the barbarous acts that humans have perpetrated against each other throughout history, but also at the many and sometimes heroic efforts that have been made to understand, prevent, combat, and respond to such acts through law, politics, education, the arts, and sciences.
There are more than 350 entries in the Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, arranged in alphabetical order for easy reference. In addition, an outline of contents at the beginning of volume one groups the entries thematically. The entries range in length from five hundred to five thousand words and concern historical and contemporary examples of genocide and crimes against humanity, individuals, groups, international institutions and law, theories and philosophy, prevention, prosecution, and cultural representations.
The set covers the ancient world to the present day and looks at all regions of the world. The editorial board affirmatively decided to include any event that has been publicly and reasonably debated as falling within the subject matter broadly viewed. Groups that have been the target of genocide or crimes against humanity are separately discussed, as are the known perpetrators. The various forms of reparation and redress available to victims and survivors are included, as are the courts and tribunals where the accused may be tried for their alleged offenses. Some entries describe the means used to incite public opinion toward hatred and genocidal acts, such as through advertising, radio broadcasts, and film. Short entries provide biographical information about key historical and contemporary figures, from Genghis Kahn to Simon Wiesenthal, while others describe important places such as Auschwitz and Srebrenica. Discussions of national and international policies during periods of genocide and crimes against humanity aim to provide readers with a wider perspective on the events reported.
The entries were written by experts, authorities in their respective fields. Like the topics they address, the authors come from countries throughout the world. As much as possible, the authors have used language that should be easily accessible to the public at large. The authors and editors have also attempted to be responsive to the sensitive nature of the topic, avoiding terms that may be offensive and noting where respected opinion is divided on the events or persons they describe. The result is a set of entries reflecting solid scholarship. A glossary of terms with which the reader might be unfamiliar appears at the end of the third volume, and each entry contains a bibliography to guide readers to further sources of information. Cross-references at the end of each entry refer to related topics.
The Encyclopedia contains historical images and contemporary photographs to illustrate the entries. Particularly for this topic, it is often difficult to visualize the reality of the events described. The editors have chosen the images carefully, not to shock but to provide further information and representation of the events and persons included.
At the end of the set, further material is included to assist the reader. In addition to the glossary, the concluding matter includes a filmography, primary source documents, and a comprehensive subject index. The primary documents may be of particular interest to those undertaking research in this field. The documents consist of key legal instruments, such as the Convention for the Prosecution and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as well as several important judicial decisions.
September 13, 2010