"Fully Aware of the Power of Words": Morality, Politics, and Law in the Rwandan "Media Trial"
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Incitement to genocide is a fairly recent and elusive concept in international law. First used at Nuremberg, the concept did not reappear for more than fifty years, when the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) used it to convict and sentence three media executives: Ferdinand Nahimana, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, and Hassan Ngeze. Using their trial as a case study, I use rhetorical analysis to help clarify both the concept of "incitement" and the role that morality, politics, and law play in genocide and its aftermath. This case study helps to explain some of the complexities that often accompany genocide. First, because incitement depends on one person's words and another's actions, the answer to the question of who is responsible for the final outcome is unclear. Second, because genocide affects, and is affected by, the decisions of both local and international communities, actions (not) taken by either affect one another in significant ways. Finally, in the aftermath of genocide, questions of culpability, punishment, and reconciliation complicate international law. Based on this case study, I suggest ways in which the international community might learn from what happened in Rwanda.
Serber, Bradley (2012). "Fully Aware of the Power of Words": Morality, Politics, and Law in the Rwandan "Media Trial". Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from