Genocide requires action- the alternative is direct complicity with evil
Vetlessen. Professor of Philosophy at the University of Olso [Journal of Peace Research] 2000
The moral issues raised by genocide are not confined to the nexus of agent and victim. Every contemporary citizen cognizant of a specific ongoing instance of genocide, regardless of where in the world, counts as a bystander. From the view point of an agent of genocide, bystanders are person possessing a potential to halt ongoing actions. Even the most initially passive and remote bystander possesses a potential to cease being a mere onlooker to the events unfolding. Responsibility for halting what is unfolding cannot rest with the victims alone; it must also be seen to rest with the party not itself affected but which is acknowledgeable about- which is more or less literally witnessing- the genocide that is taking place. Not acting is still acting. The failure to act when confronted with such action, as is involved in accomplishing genocide is a failure which carries a message to both the agent and sufferer: the action may proceed. Knowing, yet still not acting, means granting acceptance to the action. Such inaction entails letting things be done by someone else-clearly, in case of acknowledged genocide, inaction here means complicity.