Risk Factor List

Genocide is never a random event but rather the result of various conditions in a society which make genocide more or less likely happen. These factors can facilitate genocide by increasing group tensions, isolating minorities, and preparing people to comply with genocidal directions from their leaders. Various scholars have dedicated themselves to studying these conditions, including those of Ervin Staub, Barbara Harff, Ted Gurr, Helen Fein, Frank Chalk, Romeo Dallaire, Jay Ulfelder, and Benjamin Valentino, among others. They have each developed different models for assessing the risk of state failure, ethnic conflict, and genocide, all of which are interrelated.

Since it is impossible to choose one model as being the best of the available options, we have combined the strengths of each model into a list of thirty factors divided into four categories. As with the entire early warning system, the list is constantly evolving and will change and improve over time. The risk factors, provided below, will enable us to build a comprehensive risk profile of a given country which provides all of the information needed for various forms of analysis.



1.      Degree of Democracy

2.      State Security Agencies Operate with Few Constraints

3.      Isolation from the International Community

4.      High Level of Military Expenditure

5.      Frequent Changes in Political Leadership

Regime & Ideology

1.      Orientation Towards Force and Coercion to Seize and Maintain Power

2.      Commitment to a Harmful Ideology

a.       Exclusionary Ideology

b.      Antagonistic Ideology

c.       Legitimation of Victimization of Outgroup

d.      Revolutionary Ideology

e.       Ideology of Expansion or Dominance by One Group

3.      Charismatic Leadership that Generates Mass Followership

4.      Degree of Freedom of Speech

5.      Installation of a Newly-Created Regime

6.      Ruling Group Deems Outgroup to be Dangerous

7.      Severe Government Discrimination or Active Repression Against Communal Groups

8.      Ethnic Minority Rule


1.      Economic Status of the Regime

2.      Sudden and Severe Economic Hardship

3.      Long-Term Difficult Life Conditions

4.      Socioeconomic Deprivation Combined with Group-Based Inequality


1.      Existence of Distinctive Groups Separated by Social Divisions

2.      Cultural Devaluation of the Outgroup

3.      Prior Persecution of the Outgroup

4.      Legacy of Intergroup Hatred or Grievance

5.      Population Growth and Youth Bulge

6.      Ethnic Nationalism

7.      Outgroup Viewed as an Obstacle to Economic Progress

Conflict & Upheaval

1.      Political Upheaval

2.      Conflicts over Status, Power, and Rights

3.      History of Conflict

4.      History of Genocide

5.      Ongoing Insurgency or Civil War

6.      Large-Scale, Nonviolent, Anti-Government Protest