International Association of Genocide Scholars

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The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) is an international non-partisan organization that seeks to further research and teaching about the nature, causes, and consequences of genocide, and to advance policy studies on the prevention of genocide.[1][2][3][4][5] A central aim of the association is to draw academics, activists, artists, genocide survivors, journalists, jurists, and public policy makers into the study of genocide.

The association, founded in 1994 by Israel Charny, Helen Fein (its first president), Robert Melson, and Roger Smith, focuses on comparative research, recent works, case studies, the links between genocide and other human rights violations, and prevention and punishment of genocide; this information is published in Genocide Studies and Prevention, the official peer-reviewed academic journal of the association.[6]

Genocide Scholars-IAGS Visitors Walk Past Memorial Sign - Olimpo Detention and Torture Center [pt] - Buenos Aires - Argentina


The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) was founded in 1994. Initially, the organization was called the Association of Genocide Scholars and then the International Association of Genocide Scholars since 2001.  In 2006, the IAGS launched its official journal, Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal.  The 2019 IAGS conference will be held in Cambodia.

Early History

The origins of the IAGS go back to the early 1980s. At this time, a small group of scholars and teachers were using a comparative framework to study genocide. Leo Kuper published his seminal book Genocide in 1980 and Helen Fein published Accounting for Genocide in 1979.

Israel Charny organized the first conference on the comparative analysis of genocide in Jerusalem in 1982.  The Institute for the Study of Genocide was founded in New York in 1982 by Helen Fein.  Prof. Gregory Stanton founded The Cambodian Genocide Project in 1982 to bring Khmer Rouge leaders to justice, it became part of Genocide Watch in 1999.

These early genocide scholars, a number of whom began with study of the Holocaust, were attacked by other scholars who insisted on the “uniqueness” of the Holocaust.

The pioneers in genocide studies also confronted institutional pressures. For example, it was a challenge to get platforms in traditional conferences such as the American Historical Association, the International Studies Association, the American Sociological Association, etc.

Traditional academic disciplines did not find room for the interdisciplinary nature of genocide studies, so universities seldom had faculty positions for genocide scholars.

However, what had been a marginalized area of study became one of urgent interest and scholarship as a response to the genocides in Rwanda and the Balkans in 1994 and 1995.

The Association of Genocide Scholars

The idea for an organization of genocide scholars grew out of a meeting between Israel Charny, Helen Fein, Robert Melson and Roger Smith at the Remembering for the Future Two conference, held at Humboldt University in Berlin in 1994.

The Association of Genocide Scholars (AGS) was established in 1994.  During this initial period, the AGS shared a website and affiliation with the Institute for the Study of Genocide. The organization’s first conference was held in 1995 at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, USA.

With the rapid growth and global interest in genocide studies, a number of scholars pushed for a more international perspective and argued that conferences should held outside North America; the organization revised its by-laws in 2001 and was renamed the International Association of Genocide Scholars and thus biennial conferences regularly be held outside North America.

The International Association of Genocide Scholars

The IAGS conference at the University of Galway, Ireland in 2003 was the first held outside North America.

In 2007, Gregory Stanton, founding President of Genocide Watch, became President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars.  The IAGS was incorporated and accorded non-profit status.  The 2007 IAGS biennial conference was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia.  It was the first IAGS conference to be held in a country that had recently experienced genocide, with major participation from genocide survivors in their own language. 

The 2015 IAGS Biennial Meeting held in Yerevan, Armenia focused on the Armenian Genocide.  The 2017 conference in Brisbane, Australia focused on the genocide of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.

The 2019 IAGS conference will be held in Cambodia.  It will focus on the Cambodian Genocide and other Asian genocides and will include significant participation from Cambodians. 


In 1997, the association unanimously passed a formal resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide,[7][8] and also sent an open letter to the Prime Minister of Turkey.[9] In December 2007 the organization passed another resolution reaffirming the Armenian Genocide and officially recognizing both the Greek and Assyrian Genocides;[10] the IAGS has also passed resolutions condemning Iran's denial of the Holocaust and incitements for destruction of Israel (2005), condemning repression and the Gukurahunde genocide in Zimbabwe (2005), calling for forceful UN intervention in Darfur (2005), condemning Syria's attacks on civilians (2012), and declaring that ISIS is committing genocide against Yezidis, Christians, Shi'a, and other religious and ethnic groups in Iraq and Syria (2016).[11]


The following persons have been president of the association[12]:


  1. ^ Forsythe, David P. (2009). Encyclopedia of Human Rights. Oxford University Press. pp. 4–. ISBN 978-0-19-533402-9.
  2. ^ Totten, Samuel (2007). The Prevention and Intervention of Genocide: An Annotated Bibliography. Routledge. pp. 1097–. ISBN 978-0-415-95358-0.
  3. ^ Totten, Samuel; Pedersen, Jon E. (January 2012). Educating about Social Issues in the 20th and 21st Centuries: A Critical Annotated Bibliography. IAP. pp. 422–. ISBN 978-1-61735-572-1.
  4. ^ Bartrop, Paul R. (30 July 2012). A Biographical Encyclopedia of Contemporary Genocide. ABC-CLIO. p. 389. ISBN 978-0-313-38679-4.
  5. ^ Ball, Howard (2011). Genocide: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO. p. 271. ISBN 978-1-59884-488-7.
  6. ^ "IAGS Journal". Homepage. International Association of Genocide Scholars. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  7. ^ Lewy, Guenter (15 April 2012). Essays on Genocide and Humanitarian Intervention. University of Utah Press. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-60781-187-9.
  8. ^ MacDonald, David B. (2008). Identity Politics in the Age of Genocide: The Holocaust and Historical Representation. Routledge. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-415-43061-6.
  9. ^ Henham, Ralph; Behrens, Paul (1 February 2013). The Criminal Law of Genocide: International Comparative and Contextual Aspects. Ashgate Publishing. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-4094-9591-8.
  10. ^ International Association of Genocide Scholars Archived 2008-02-27 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Resolutions | International Association of Genocide Scholars". Retrieved 2018-12-02.
  12. ^ "Past Boards | International Association of Genocide Scholars". Retrieved 2018-12-02.

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