Document Type



International institutions are almost exclusively reactive to violations of international law. There are very few systemic methods of proactively trying to prevent egregious violations such as genocide; rather, international law seems to take punishing violators as its sole approach. In modern times, most of the punishment and post-event enforcement has come through international courts and tribunals. These courts and tribunals are astoundingly expensive and notoriously inefficient. More importantly, the threat of prosecution does not appear to act as an effective deterrent in preventing criminal acts. This is unacceptable. With hundreds of thousands of lives at stake, the international community must take proactive steps to not only stop and deter, but also prevent mass atrocities and genocides in the future. This paper proposes one possibility that could be both efficient and effective in accomplishing this vital task. International institutions should provide a proactive method of enticing individuals involved in the early planning stages to come forward and report proposed genocidal activities or other mass atrocities. Then these institutions must be willing to respond aggressively to prevent the activities from occurring. Such a program would not only have to provide incentives for those with information to come forward but would also have to protect them from the unscrupulous actors who will seek retribution for being discovered in their illegal acts. An effective pre-atrocity incentive and protection program would not only prevent long and expensive post-criminal act trials, but more importantly, it would prevent the repetition of the hundreds of thousands of deaths experienced in the genocides of the last two decades.


29 Hous. J. Int'l L.

Publication Title

Houston Journal of International Law