George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Genocide Prevention Program

Genocide prevention is not only a question of promoting good governance. It requires promoting tolerance and acceptance of diversity, as well as promoting the equal access to rights, resources, and opportunities for all people. 

Display of Skulls of Victims

Courtyard of Genocide Memorial Church, Karongi (Kibuye), Western Rwanda. Photo by Adam Jones on Flikr

We believe that genocide can be prevented by:

  1. Strengthening partnerships between local communities and the international community, such as building positive collaboration between local, national, and global organizations;
  2. Strengthening the commitments of inter-governmental organizations to human rights and the rule of international law; and, most importantly,
  3. Working with local institutions and grassroots social networks to build more durable social ties amongst divided communities, to prevent the occurrence and reoccurrence of genocide.

Vision, Work, Practice

GPP contributes to academic efforts to promote a more informed public, political, and academic dialogue on genocide and genocide prevention. As such, GPP is dedicated to the reflective practice of peace and genocide prevention by developing robust early warning and early response systems, strengthening political and social institutions that can work towards these ends, and preparing a new generation of global leaders, citizens, and peacemakers who are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and ambition necessary for helping to make a world without genocide a reality.

GPP’s work is guided by our understanding of genocide as a complex, social, political and economic process that involves bigotry, social “othering,” and discrimination, in addition to state-sanctioned violence or organized mass-killing. Genocide is a type of identity based-conflict. Yet genocide is not caused by differences in identity, but by the implications of social identities in terms of the unequal access to economic resources, social and political opportunities, and basic rights. 

We are dedicated to the belief that preventing genocide, and building peace after genocide, requires:

  1. Promoting tolerance and the acceptance of cultural diversity by strengthening grassroots social and political institutions dedicated to speaking out against, and preventing, violence;
  2. Understanding and addressing the political and economic interests that often underscore genocide and genocidal processes; and
  3. Strengthening the rule of international law and human rights.

Staff & Team Members

Dr. Douglas Irvin-Erickson, PhD, Director

Douglas Irvin-Erickson has worked in the field of genocide studies and atrocity prevention in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Cambodia, Myanmar, Ukraine, and Argentina. He is the author of books, chapters, and articles on genocide, religion and violence, human security, international criminal law, and political theory. His current research includes a book on the life and works of Raphael Lemkin, the originator of the word "genocide" who authored the UN Genocide Convention (UPenn Press, 2017). Irvin-Erickson also serves as Editor of Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal, the official publication of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. He holds a Ph.D. in Global Affairs from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and an M.A. in English Literature.

Emily Sample, Executive Director

In addition to working with GPP, Emily Sample is in the process of earning her PhD in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Previously, she has worked as Associate Director of Education at Holocaust Museum Houston and for the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region Ugandan National Committee on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, as well as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. She earned her B.A. from The College of William and Mary and her M.A. in Human Rights and Genocide Studies from Kingston University London.

Contact Emily Sample

Ziad Al Achkar

Ziad Al Achkar is a PhD student at S-CAR. Achkar currently serves as the Director of the Public Private Partnership in Humanitarian Settings Initiative. Achkar has previously held positions at Harvard University as a researcher and data analyst focused on the use of information communication technologies in conflicts and humanitarian operations. 

Achkar’s work has been featured in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, UN OCHA, Journal of Political Science Education, the Naval War College War Fighter Journal, the European Interagency Security Forum, and the Harvard University School of Public Health. Achkar holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Roger Williams University, a Master of Arts from the School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall, and a MBA from Johnson and Wales University. 

Sixte Vigny Nimuraba, PhD

Vigny Nimuraba is Project Director of GPP's Violence Prevention Initiative. He serves as the Director of GPP’s Violence Prevention Initiative. He is a Shinnyo alumni. In his shinnyo–en Foundation project, “Building inter-cultural Bridges at GMU,” he brought together international and American GMU students through dialogue. He worked closely with UNHCR and Ligue Iteka in Burundi until 2011 as Regional Coordinator through the Ligue Iteka’s Monitoring of Returnees Project. Before Ligue Iteka, he held different positions from local and international organizations such as VISPE, Care International, and CNLS, among others, from which he got the inspiration and passion to dedicate his life to peaceful coexistence, Human Rights and social cohesion. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from University of Ngozi (Burundi) and a Master’s degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University.

Current Initiatives

Public-Private Partnership in Humanitarian Settings Initiative

The rising number of natural and man-made disasters over the past decade has put pressure on the existing humanitarian system. Funding mechanism and capacities for humanitarian operators to respond effectively to humanitarian disaster have been stretched to the limit. The need for a new approach has led to the development of public-private partnerships in humanitarian settings. By combining the expertise, knowledge, and capabilities of the two sectors, humanitarian operators can be better prepared to face new challenges in the coming century. As the number of refugees and IDP now represent 1% of the world’s population, these partnerships will prove to be crucial to assist those that have been forcibly displaced. 

The PPP in Humanitarian Settings Initiative at George Mason University seeks to examine the impact of PPPs and identify new opportunities that can be translated into actionable policy and implemented programs on the ground. The initiative focuses on four broad areas of research: innovation, theory and education, law and ethics, and corporate social responsibility. The Initiative evaluates the impact of PPPs, identifies emerging challenges for the sector, and develops training and educational material that can be used to teach the next generation of scholars and practitioners to be better equipped to serve vulnerable populations. 

Based at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, the initiative serves as a platform to support emerging scholars, researchers, and practitioners in this field. The initiative conducts research on the application of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the context of PPPs and assesses the impact changing technological and digital innovation has on the sector.  The initiative works to advance research and programs centered on humanitarian practice and teaching. 

The initiative prepares case studies on PPPs & ICT use to highlight best practices, areas of contention, and identify where gaps in the literature and practice exists. The initiative issues thematic papers to highlight emerging trends within the humanitarian sector. As part of the work conducted, the initiative partners with experts from the humanitarian, private, and academic sector to share experiences and identify practical applications to help humanitarian actors better serve the needs of vulnerable populations. 

The initiative is committed to Open-Access Research. All the work and research conducted through this initiative will be public facing to ensure wide spread distribution to serve as a resource to the humanitarian community and improve the science of humanitarian response.  


  • Contribute to the literature on humanitarian operations and public-private partnerships
  • Develop educational material focused on teaching humanitarian principles and operations
  • Act as a center for humanitarian research and a hub for new scholars & practitioners
  • Support the development of ethical practices in private-public humanitarian partnerships
Violence Prevention Initiative (VPI)

Sixte Vigny Nimuraba, Project Director
Douglas Irvin-Erickson, Co-Director

Since the beginning of 2013, GPP has been closely involved in violence prevention work in Burundi. With the support of Friends Committee for National Legislation, Peace Direct, and other organizations, GPP contributed to  a then newly created violence prevention initiatives in Burundi, selecting key Burundian peace and human rights activists from across Burundian civil society organizations who could contribute to the initiative and whose institutions could join the Burundian Peacebuilding and Violence Prevention Network.

Since early 2015, GPP has worked to strengthen and expand the Burundi Peace and Nonviolence Network. Our activities focus on reaching out to Burundian youth who are the most likely to join youth armed groups and participate in cycles of violence. We provide peace and non-violence training to youth through sporting tournaments, cultural celebrations, and other festivities hosted with local partners. And we work to strengthen trust and peaceful, mutual exchanges between local governments, administrations, civil society institutions, social and civil leaders, political parties, and youth networks.

You can read the most recent report of our violence prevention activities here.

Past Projects

Rwandan Diasporic Project

Claudine Kuradusenge, Project Director

Diaspora communities hold an important role in the development and implementation of peaceful initiatives as well as the financial support of armed conflicts. Linking at least two countries, they have the political power to promote their social group’s needs while influencing the cultural and political decisions in their homeland. This project explored the evolution of the Rwandan identity within the Diaspora communities as well as the mobilization 'for or against' President Kagame's third term. Rwandans around the world are shaped by a consciousness formed around a trans-generations shift in narratives of identity. In other words, this project is explored the new generations of Rwandans, in diaspora, and reflected on their sense of identity and civil mobilization.

Genocide & Atrocity Prevention Graduate Student Study Group

Sani Zanovic, Project Director

The Genocide & Atrocity Prevention Graduate Student Study Group met to help S-CAR graduate students produce cutting-edge research and writing in the field of Genocide Studies, and to provide a platform for GMU students to pursue creative and inspiring projects that enrich the GMU community. Workshop participants met to discuss and plan student-led activities, and to revise their ongoing writing projects, with the goal of transforming past graduate coursework at S-CAR into outstanding academic journal articles in the field of Genocide Studies; and to share and workshop dissertation chapters. 

Genocide Prevention Network (GPN)

Sara Saghar Birjanidian, Project Director

The Genocide Prevention Network (GPN) worked to strengthen relationships between genocide prevention scholars and practitioners, policy makers, civil society actors, and communities. Building on the strong relationships established over the last four years in the Great Lakes region of Africa through GMU’s Genocide Prevention Program, GPN identified understudied and underdeveloped entry points for the installment of preventative mechanisms and tools at local, national, and regional levels. GPN functioned at two levels: (1) supporting local partners in Africa’s Great Lakes region to strengthen mass atrocity prevention and (2) producing scholarly research and analysis that will catalyze critical discussions and develop analytic and normative frameworks for prevention in diverse fields of study and practice.

Genocide Prevention in Africa Initiative (GPAI)

Kofi Goka, Project Director
Chukwuma Onyia, Associate Project Director

This initiative contributed to the study and practice of Genocide Prevention in Africa through scholarly research and publication, including engaged research in African countries.This work focused on studying individual cases of genocide in Africa while paying close attention to the larger political and social dynamics of genocide, across the continent and globally. From this foundation of intimate regional knowledge, combined with the study of global social and political dynamics, GPAI deepened scholarly understanding of how and why genocides take place in particular societies and in the world as a whole, and of the potential for meaningful and responsible action to prevent genocide and promote social reconciliation after genocide.

Corporate Responsibility and Genocide Initiative (CRGI)

Sarah Federman, Project Director
Co-Director, Douglas Irvin-Erickson

The Corporate Responsibility and Genocide Initiative (CRGI) built on Sarah Federman’s doctoral research on the French train company's (SNCF) role in the WWII deportations and the ensuing U.S. conflict that exists today fueled by unhappy survivors. The CRGI met to study corporate involvement in genocide and mass atrocities, both historically and in contemporary contexts. The two-fold goal of the initiative was to generate scholarship and a greater awareness of corporate accountability in mass atrocities while building partnerships between victims and survivors, corporations, and global civil society institutions to work towards finding solutions to help corporations serve as productive contributors to global society.

Identity Policies and African Genocide Project (IPAGP)

Adeeb Yousif, Project Director
Co-Director, Douglas Irvin-Erickson

Situational identity, where individuals and groups claim political power based on identity, has become a major source of insecurity for people in Sub-Saharan Africa–Countries. Political instability and bloody conflicts and genocide have resulted from these negative forms ethnic identification, tribalism, tribal fanaticism, regionalism, religious intolerance, and tribal agglomeration, resulting in tens or hundreds of dead and wounded victims in the region. The human rights situation in the region continues to deteriorate, and civilians still bear the brunt of human rights violations that are motivated by identity politics—these ideas have psychological effects, narrating differences between the in-group and the out-group, between the us and them, which can lead people to kill each other.

Genocide Studies Resources


Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal

Journal of Genocide Research

Holocaust and Genocide Studies

La Revista de Estudios sobre Genocidio



The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS)

The International Network of Genocide Scholars (INoGS)

About GPP

Located at the Center for Peacemaking Practice in the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, the Genocide Prevention Program (GPP) was founded to engage United Nations Member States and other regional and sub-regional organizations in building a network of states and local communities committed to preventing genocide and mass atrocities. GPP supports state policies and practices directed towards atrocity prevention, promotes genocide education and strategic training initiatives, and helps to build grassroots networks across the world that are committed to ending mass violence and mass atrocities.

Centers and Publications