They received the prize for their pioneering research regarding the causes of and prevention of genocide. The international jury selecting the winners took certain notice of of their groundbreaking theories and models explaining the causes and motivations of genocide. Hagan's field research has produced evidence that the number of murders in Darfur has been substantially underestimated, and Zaffaroni has shown how criminological theories on juvenile delinquents can be applied on governments committing crimes against their own population.

Prize recipients 2009 John Hagan and Eugenio Raúl Zaffaroni, with Beatrice Ask (Minister of Justice)
John Hagan, Beatrice Ask (Minister of Justice), Eugenio Raúl Zaffaroni. Photo: BRÅ

About John Hagan

In 2003-05, John Hagan pioneered the application of advanced crime measurement techniques to the study of genocide in his empirical work on violence in Darfur and in the Balkans.

John Hagan Using systematic methods of estimating crime volumes from victimization surveys administered in collaboration with the American Bar Foundation and the US State Department, Hagan and his colleagues found substantial under-counting of murders in previous estimates.

Conclusions drawn by the State Department and the World Health Organization from these data had estimated murders in the tens of thousands. Their more advanced demographic methods produced evidence of murders in the hundreds of thousands: between 200,000 and 400,000 homicides, over four times more than previous estimates ("The Criminology of Genocide: Death and Rape in Darfur," Criminology 43: 525-561 [2005]; "Death in Darfur," Science 15 September 2006: Vol. 313. no. 5793, pp. 1578 - 1579). Their conclusions were reported in more than one hundred newspapers worldwide, helping to transform public comprehension and discussion of the tragedy in Darfur.
Hagan's team also showed that there was substantial evidence of racial motivation in the killings and rapes, with little evidence of a strategic response to rebellion as claimed by Sudanese authorities.

Hagan led these research efforts as the Co-Director of the Center for Law and Globalization, as John D. MacArthur Professor of Sociology and Law at Northwestern University in Illinois, as Senior Research Fellow at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago, and as University Professor of Law and Sociology Emeritus at the University of Toronto.

About Raúl Eugenio Zaffaroni

In the years since mass murder by government was fully documented in Argentina, Raúl Eugenio Zaffaroni pioneered the explanation of genocide on the basis of criminological theory.

Raul Zaffaroni He also has developed criminological theory as the basis for assessing proposals for the prevention of any mass killings through state power, and for a critique of a purely retributive response.

Analyzing situations as diverse as Argentina's own governmental mass murders, the European Holocaust, slavery and colonial exploitation of workers under lethal workplace conditions, Zaffaroni showed how criminological theory of "techniques of neutralization" observed among juvenile delinquents also fits the rhetorical patterns of governments creating "enemies" as targets for genocide. Zaffaroni's analysis of the deep causes of genocide encompassed and anticipated later explanations focusing on competition for scarce resources such as water and arable land. His critique of criminal law as an inadequate means of preventing genocide raises profound questions about the role of the retributive model of international justice in the aftermath of genocide. Zaffaroni's theory points to the likely benefits of "secondary prevention," minimizing the effects of such crimes by repairing harm, restoring families and communities, and developing far more intense therapeutic and conciliatory models to break the cycle of blood feuds and vengeance that can last for centuries.

The Argentinian-born Zaffaroni, who was appointed one of the six Justices of the Supreme Court of Argentina in 2003, is also Professor Emeritus and former Head of the Department of Criminal Law in the University of Buenos Aires.