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About Martin Shaw

Martin Shaw is research professor of international relations at the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI) and the University of Sussex, and professorial fellow in international relations and human rights at the University of Roehampton. Among his books are War and Genocide: Organised Killing in Modern Society (Polity, 2003); The New Western Way of War: Risk-Transfer War and its Crisis in Iraq (Polity, 2005); and What is Genocide? (Polity, 2007). His website is here

Articles by Martin Shaw

This week's editor

En Liang Khong

En Liang Khong is openDemocracy’s assistant editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The making of an open and democratic Europe: reading Brexit through E.P. Thompson

There is no room for Britain’s turning away from Europe to a fantasy mid-Atlantic or neo-Commonwealth position of the kind floated, typically unseriously, by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.

Three realities of the Isis conflict

The west must prioritise civilian wellbeing in any intervention. What might help?

Labour and the comfort zone

If Corbyn wins, he will have to be willing to accept some radical changes to the way that politics works.

How the SNP-Tory dynamics shifted the 2015 election

Fear of the SNP drove voters to the Tories - a fear that Labour's leadership candidates are failing to discuss.

Development resistance threatens election upset in Devon

In one seat in the South West, the bookies list the main challenger is an independent. What's going on?

Boycotting Israel: the situation has changed and I have changed my mind too

The latest Israeli assault on Gaza is for one scholar an occasion to rethink the fundamental arguments for and against a boycott of the country.

Russia-Israel: domestic politics and serious blowback

The Ukraine and Gaza crises alike demonstrate the risks of aggressive policy based on short-term calculations. Vladimir Putin and Binyamin Netanyahu's war-as-politics invites damaging long-term consequences.

Sochi = Syria: boycott the Olympics

The crimes of Bashar al-Assad's regime and its support by Vladimir Putin demand an answer, says Martin Shaw.

A very British Marxist - and his son

Britain's most vehement conservative newspaper, in the course of an assault on Ralph Miliband, father of the Labour Party leader, accused the Belgian-born academic of having "hated" the country he found refuge in and fought for. Martin Shaw offers both a personal and political take on the ensuing controversy. 

Syria and Egypt: genocidal violence, western response

Genocide is both taking on new forms in the era of democratic revolution and exposing the defective reactions of western states, says Martin Shaw.

Paths to change: peaceful vs violent

The diverse experiences of the Arab spring renew the question of whether non-violent movements are more effective than armed struggle in achieving the overthrow of authoritarian regimes, says Martin Shaw.

Israel and Hamas: momentum of war

The latest war over Gaza leaves unchanged the underlying roots of conflict, even as regional changes are narrowing the potential for a long-term settlement.

The United States and "atrocity prevention"

The formation of an official agency charged with helping Washington identify and address threats of atrocity around the world is notable. But the United States's own foreign-policy record raises serious questions over its likely impact, says Martin Shaw.

The Holocaust and genocide: loose talk, bad action

The dangers of genocide denial are widely recognised. But the politics of "genocide mobilisation" - and the legal and discursive infringements that often follow - can also be a barrier to historical understanding and justice, says Martin Shaw.

2012, the next upheaval

The coming year will see a fusion of the global political and economic trends that accelerated in 2011. The results could be ugly as well as hopeful, says Martin Shaw.

Welcome to Little Tory England

The British prime minister's breach with the European Union is part of a wider political process leading England towards a meaner, harder, narrower and unfairer future. But the resources to stop it happening are also there, says Martin Shaw.

Libya: the revolution-intervention dynamic

The success of Libya’s uprising is welcome - even if both the rebel movement and foreign support for it reflect the inevitable contradictions of politics. The challenge now includes holding account all perpetrators of atrocity, says Martin Shaw.

International justice, wild west vs ICC: a coming crisis

The killing of Osama bin Laden and arrest of Ratko Mladic highlight the precariousness of international order and international law as much as their advance, says Martin Shaw.

Libya: popular revolt, military intervention

The changing dynamics of the Libyan conflict highlight the contradictions of "humanitarian intervention" when pressed to serve the western way of war, says Martin Shaw.

The global democratic revolution: a new stage

The popular risings in the Arab world belong to a wider historical process of worldwide democratic advance. But the disastrous events of the post-9/11 decade have made it far slower and more conflictual than was needed, says Martin Shaw

Street politics, violence, and media

The student movement in Britain against the government’s tuition-fees and spending policies faces inescapable political questions over the character and limits of democratic protest, says Martin Shaw.

Iraq, war and WikiLeaks: the real story

The tranche of American military documents released by the WikiLeaks project contains a wealth of detail about the coalition's indifference to civilian life. But the materials also tell a deeper story of “how” war has killed in Iraq, says Martin Shaw.

The politics of genocide: Rwanda & DR Congo

A revisionist reading of the Rwanda genocide of 1994 endorsed by Noam Chomsky confirms the moral blindness of the denialist left, says Martin Shaw.

The Holocaust, genocide studies, and politics

A compelling argument among scholars of genocide reflects the gradual development of the field beyond its point of origin, the Nazi murder of Europe’s Jews. The questions include whether and how different episodes of mass killing should be seen in a common frame; how such a development changes understanding of the Holocaust; and how historical interpretation and modern political argument intertwine, not least over Israel and anti-semitism. Martin Shaw, both participant and observer in this debate, presents an overview of its core issues.

Nigeria and the politics of massacre

The brutal violence against people of a different ethnicity or religion seen in the central Nigerian state of Jos is the most common face of genocide worldwide, says Martin Shaw.

Britain and genocide

The official annual commemoration of a century of genocide and its victims should be accompanied by a responsible awareness of Britain’s own historical record, says Martin Shaw. (This article was first published on 27 January 2009)

Sri Lanka: power and accountability

The degrading aftermath of Sri Lanka’s civil war demands international action to ensure protection of its civilians from their overweening rulers, says Martin Shaw.

The Karadzic trial and Bosnian realities

The trial of the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is a test of justice and accountability over terrible crimes. But the trend of events in Bosnia itself also demands the international community’s urgent attention, says Martin Shaw.

DR Congo: arc of war, map of responsibility

The political dynamics of conflict in Africa’s most complex region must be understood if enduring solutions are to be found. Martin Shaw reads fellow openDemocracy contributor Gerard Prunier’s book “From Genocide to Continental War”. 

Israeli settlements and “ethnic cleansing”

The argument that the dismantling of Israeli communities in the Palestinian West Bank would amount to "ethnic cleansing" is increasingly being heard. It deserves close examination of a kind its proponents may not welcome, says Martin Shaw.

Afghanistan and Iraq: western wars, genocidal risks

The enormous harm inflicted on civilians by the “new western way of war” can be measured in tens of thousands of deaths and displacements. But Washington and London’s responsibility goes even wider, says Martin Shaw.

(This article was published on 24 July 2009)

Sri Lanka - camps, media…genocide?

What kind of violence has the Sri Lankan state been committing against its Tamil civilian population as the island‘s civil war ended; on what scale and with what intentions? Martin Shaw explores the difficult terrain where war, atrocity and genocide meet.

The trouble with guns: Sri Lanka, South Africa, Ireland

The use of violence as an instrument of political liberation leads rather to failure and regression, says Martin Shaw.

A century of genocide, 1915-2009

The Ottoman-era massacres of the Armenians also belong to a century of "mass-death" episodes forged in war, state rivalry, ethnic targeting and expulsion, says Martin Shaw. 
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