Understanding Mass Atrocity Prevention during Periods of Democratic Transition

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3 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this article is to provide a better understanding of why some countries experience mass atrocities during periods of democratic transition, while others do not. Scholars have long regarded democracy as an important source of stability and protection from mass atrocities such as genocide, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. But democratic transition itself is fraught with the heightened risk of violent conflict and even mass atrocities. Indeed, a number of studies have identified regimes in transition as containing the highest risk of political instability and mass atrocities. What is overlooked is the question of how and why some regimes undergo such transitions without experiencing mass atrocities, despite the presence of a number of salient risk factors, including state-based discrimination, inter-group tension and horizontal inequality. Utilizing a new analytical framework, this article investigates this lacuna by conducting a comparative analysis of two countries—one that experienced atrocities (Burundi) during transition, and one that did not (Guyana). How countries avoid such violence during transition has the potential to yield insights for the mitigation of risk associated with mass atrocity crimes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-41
Number of pages15
JournalPolitics and Governance
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© Stephen McLoughlin . This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


  • Burundi
  • democratic transition
  • Guyana
  • mass atrocities
  • prevention
  • risk


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