July 7, 2021 : By Logan Smith - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
The word “genocide” derives from the Greek word “genos” (race) and the Latin verb “cide” (to kill), but this vile crime against humanity wasn’t reserved for the past. It still happens today in many countries.
In an effort to understand, mitigate, and raise awareness of this heinous evil, undergraduate and graduate students from the Helms School of Government and the Liberty University School of Law collaborated with Ariel University, an Israeli institution, during the fall semester to conduct research and submit database entries for Ariel University’s Center for the Research and Study of Genocide.
From Liberty’s campus, law students analyzed different cases of genocide from an international legal perspective, and government students focused on the policy and historical implications of genocide. They examined multiple cases of genocide, including the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, and cases in Guatemala, Sudan, Iraq, and more.
“It’s hard to talk about genocide, but it is an important issue,” said Liberty Law professor Dr. Yuri Mantilla. “We cannot let genocide, crimes against humanity, keep happening around the world. Anything we can do as Christians, as professors, as students, to contribute to preventing genocide by scholarship, by activism, by partnerships with Israel, I think it’s good.”
To complement each other’s skills and vocation, students worked in pairs of two — one government student and one law student. Each database entry included 500 words with a bibliography and were reviewed by their professors and Dr. Hilly Moodrick Even Khen, a Law professor, faculty member of Ariel University and head of the Center for Research and the Study of Genocide.
Moodrick Even Khen said the collaboration with Liberty greatly benefited the center, specifically in building the database, and she hopes more interdisciplinary efforts will arise in the future.
“This specific project, and the vocation of the center in general, is not only academic. The center performs with a special moral commitment to warn against and prevent crimes of genocide in the future,” she said. “Thus, its activities include the evaluation and prediction of genocide cases, providing a legal framework for intervention and prevention of genocide acts. These values and goals are congruent with Liberty University’s Christian values and I think this contributed considerably to the project’s success.”
“We accomplished what we were looking for,” she added. “(The students) did a very good job. They were very enthusiastic in doing this. They kept on time, and I think they showed a lot of interest.”
The Helms School of Government and the School of Law have a strong tradition of welding Christian public servants who will impact their worlds for Christ. This collaboration, Mantilla said, is a manifestation of that mission.
“We as Christians have a very strong tradition of defending human rights and human dignity. And for us, as Christian lawyers, it goes back to the book of Genesis,” he said. “The idea of the right to life and human dignity goes back to this: God has created all human beings in His own image. And because of that, we have an inherent dignity that transcends governments. … So, when you see acts of genocide, this is a very clear violation of the image of God. … Based on this reality that all human beings have intrinsic dignity, we believe that it is essential to fight against genocide.”
Mantilla said the project is ongoing and could even lead to symposiums, conferences, and special dialogues.
“I think this is an exciting opportunity to work with Ariel University, and I pray that the Lord will bless these efforts, that our students at the Law School and the Helms School of Government will be able to continue to be engaged and that we will be able to contribute to ensure that genocide doesn’t happen over and over again.”