From discrimination to death: genocide process through a human rights lens

Date & time
1–2pm Friday 24 March 2023

ANU College of Law Moot Court, Building 6A Fellows Road

Melanie O'Brien
ANU Law - Marketing

Presented by Centre for International and Public Law

CIPL Seminar
Melanie O'Brien

Dr Melanie O'Brien's research aims to construct a paradigm of the genocidal process through human rights violations to function as a map to prevent future genocides. It conducts a comparative assessment of the process of the Armenian Genocide, Holocaust, and Cambodian Genocide, examining the timeline of human rights violations that occurred in those genocides; and the use of the law to carry out these violations. The ultimate goal is to create a tool to assist in the prevention of genocide that can be applied to current and future situations of mass human rights violations that have not yet mutated into genocide.

From Discrimination to Death studies the process of genocide through the human rights violations that occur during genocide. Using individual testimonies and in-depth field research from the Armenian Genocide, Holocaust and Cambodian Genocide, this book demonstrates that a pattern of specific escalating human rights abuses takes place in genocide. Offering an analysis of all these particular human rights as they are violated in genocide, the author intricately brings together genocide studies and human rights, demonstrating how the ‘crime of crimes’ and the human rights law regime correlate. The book applies the pattern of rights violations to the Rohingya Genocide, revealing that this pattern could have been used to prevent the violence against the Rohingya, before advocating for a greater role for human rights oversight bodies in genocide prevention.

The pattern ascertained through the research in this book offers a resource for governments and human rights practitioners as a mid-stream indicator for genocide prevention. It can also be used by lawyers and judges in genocide trials to help determine whether genocide took place. Undergraduate and postgraduate students, particularly of genocide studies, will also greatly benefit from this book.


  • Melanie O'Brien »

    Melanie O'Brien

    Dr Melanie O’Brien is Associate Professor of International Law at the University of Western Australia. Melanie is President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), and a member of the WA International Humanitarian Law Committee of the Australian Red Cross. Her research examines the connection between human rights and the genocide process; and sexual and gender-based crimes against women in atrocities. Her work on forced marriage has been cited by the International Criminal Court, she has appeared before the ICC as an amicus curia and has been an expert consultant for several UN bodies.
    Melanie is an admitted legal practitioner who has previously worked at several Australian universities; the National Human Rights Institution of Samoa; and the Legal Advisory Section of the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. She is the author of Criminalising Peacekeepers: Modernising National Approaches to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (Palgrave) and From Discrimination to Death: Genocide Process through a Human Rights Lens (Routledge). She tweets @DrMelOB.

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