The Importance of Stanton’s “Eight Stages”

There are many people who do not view genocide as a current issue. They view it as something that has happened in the past and something that could not occur in our current day and age. However, this is very far from the truth. If you look back in history you will see that genocide has occurred all throughout it, and if you take the time to understand the stages of genocide you will see that it will continue to take place as time goes on. Genocide can be traced all the way back to 146 BCE and Rome’s destruction of Carthage during the Third Punic War, and has been an issue as recently as 2004 in Dafur.

destroycarthage    Rome’s destruction of Carthage

It is a common misconception that genocide is just something that occurs very suddenly, and is not something that can be easily prevented. That is not the case at all though, genocide is never a random or sporadic act and we can always to taking steps to prevent genocide from progressing. Gregory Stanton illustrates this with “The Eight Stages of Genocide”. Stanton states, “Genocide is a process that develops in eights stages that are predictable but not inexorable. At each stage, preventive measures can stop it.” Many of Stanton’s 8 Stages can be applied to things we hear and read about everyday in in the news. It is important to understand the stages, because without understanding we are helpless in the fight against genocide.


It is easy for us to just look at genocide as a whole, because it allows us to feel powerless, and like there is nothing we can do to fight the issue. As humans we do not want to feel responsible for the evil and wrong doings of those around us. Things are no different when it comes to the matter of genocide. Especially here in America, where we feel like genocide is not an issue and we are to far removed from the issue to have a positive impact on the situation. It is uncomfortable to break genocide break down into multiple stages, because it is then that we see how much we overlook and all the things we could be doing to prevent the stages of genocide from progressing.

Though it is tough at times to look and genocide as a process, but it is something we should all do. We might not be able to rid the world of genocide, but we are all able to fight it one step at a time. Stanton not only highlights the stages of genocide, but he also allows us to better understand what it is we can be doing to take preventative measures. Educating ourselves and those around us is crucial because there is strength in numbers. History has shown that past genocides could have been hindered or even prevented if bystanders would have taken measures to actively opposed what was going on around them. We do not want to be a generation of passive bystanders. By better understanding Stanton’s stages of genocide we can become active in the fight and prevention of genocide in the world around us.

-Tyler Burgess-


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