Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. The term was coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin. It is defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) of 1948 as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the groups conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
The preamble to the CPPCG states that "genocide is a crime under international law, contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and condemned by the civilized world", and it also states that "at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity."
The debate continues over what legally constitutes genocide. One definition is any conflict that the International Criminal Court has so designated. Mohammed Hassan Kakar argues that the definition should include political groups or any group so defined by the perpetrator. He prefers the definition from Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn, which defines genocide as "a form of one-sided mass killing in which a state or other authority intends to destroy a group so defined by the perpetrator."
In literature, some scholars have popularly emphasized the role that the Soviet Union played in excluding political groups from the international definition of genocide, which is contained in the Genocide Convention of 1948, and in particular they have written that Joseph Stalin may have feared greater international scrutiny of the political killings that occurred in the country, such as the Great Purge; however, this claim is not supported by evidence. The Soviet view was shared and supported by many diverse countries, and they were also in line with Raphael Lemkin's original conception,[a] and it was originally promoted by the World Jewish Congress.
Analysis of genocides before World War I is the result of modern studies that apply objectivity and fact, while previous accounts of genocides mostly aimed to emphasize one's own superiority. According to Frank Chalk, Helen Fein, and Kurt Jonassohn, if a dominant group of people had little in common with a marginalized group of people, it was easy for the dominant group to define the marginalized group as a subhuman group; the marginalized group might be labeled a threat that must be eliminated.
While the concept of genocide was formulated by Lemkin in the mid-20th century, the expansion of various European colonial powers, such as the British and the Spanish empires, and the subsequent establishment of colonies on indigenous territory frequently involved acts of genocidal violence against indigenous groups in the Americas, Australia, Africa, and Asia. According to Lemkin, colonization was in itself "intrinsically genocidal", and he saw this genocide as a two-stage process, the first being the destruction of the indigenous population's way of life. In the second stage, the newcomers impose their way of life on the indigenous group. According to David Maybury-Lewis, imperial and colonial forms of genocide are enacted in two main ways, either through the deliberate clearing of territories of their original inhabitants in order to make them exploitable for purposes of resource extraction or colonial settlements, or through enlisting indigenous peoples as forced laborers in colonialist or imperialist projects of resource extraction. The designation of specific events as genocidal is often controversial.
Genocides from World War I through World War II
A group of 34 non-governmental organizations and 31 individuals, calling themselves African Citizens, referred to the Rwanda: The Preventable Genocide report prepared by a panel headed by former Botswana president Quett Masire for the Organisation of African Unity, which later became the African Union. African Citizens highlighted the sentences, commenting: "Indisputably, the most important truth that emerges from our investigation is that the Rwandan genocide could have been prevented by those in the international community who had the position and means to do so. ... The world failed Rwanda. ... [The United Nations] simply did not care enough about Rwanda to intervene appropriately."Chidi Odinkalu, former head of the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria, was among those involved with African Citizens.
On 20 November 2021, Genocide Watch called for the predicted genocide to be prevented. On 21 November, Odinkalu called for genocide prevention, stating: "We need to focus on an urgent programme of Genocide Prevention advocacy on Ethiopia NOW. It may be too late in 2 weeks, guys." On 26 November, African Citizens and Alton, Clark, and Lapsley also called for the predicted genocide to be prevented.
In February 2007, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) returned a judgement in the Bosnian Genocide Case. It upheld the ICTY's findings that genocide had been committed in and around Srebrenica but did not find that genocide had been committed on the wider territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war. The ICJ also ruled that Serbia was not responsible for the genocide nor was it responsible for "aiding and abetting it", although it ruled that Serbia could have done more to prevent the genocide and that Serbia failed to punish the perpetrators. Before this ruling, the term Bosnian Genocide had been used by some academics and human rights officials.
German courts handed down convictions for genocide during the Bosnian War. Novislav Djajic was indicted for his participation in the genocide, but the Higher Regional Court failed to find that there was sufficient certainty for a criminal conviction for genocide. Nevertheless, Djajic was found guilty of 14 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. At Djajic's appeal on 23 May 1997, the Bavarian Appeals Chamber found that acts of genocide were committed in June 1992, confined within the administrative district of Foca. The Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) of Düsseldorf, in September 1997, handed down a genocide conviction against Nikola Jorgic, a Bosnian Serb from the Doboj region who was the leader of a paramilitary group located in the Doboj region. He was sentenced to four terms of life imprisonment for his involvement in genocidal actions that took place in regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, other than Srebrenica. On 29 November 1999, the Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) of Düsseldorf "condemned Maksim Sokolovic to 9 years in prison for aiding and abetting the crime of genocide and for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions."
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is a court under the auspices of the United Nations for the prosecution of offences committed during the Rwandan genocide during April and May 1994, commencing on 6 April. The ICTR was created on 8 November 1994 by the UN Security Council to resolve claims in Rwanda, or by Rwandan citizens in nearby states, between 1 January and 31 December 1994. For approximately 100 days from the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana on 6 April through mid-July, at least 800,000 people were killed according to a Human Rights Watch estimate.
As of mid-2011, the ICTR had convicted 57 people and acquitted 8. Another ten persons were still on trial while one (Bernard Munyagishari) is awaiting trial; nine remain at large. The first trial, of Jean-Paul Akayesu, ended in 1998 with his conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity.Jean Kambanda, the interim prime minister during the genocide, pleaded guilty. This was the world's first conviction for genocide, as defined by the 1948 Convention.
The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, Ta Mok, and others, perpetrated the mass killing of ideologically suspect groups, ethnic minorities such as ethnic Vietnamese, Chinese or Sino-Khmers, Chams, and Thais, former civil servants, former government soldiers, Buddhist monks, secular intellectuals and professionals, and former city dwellers. Khmer Rouge cadres who were defeated in factional struggles were also liquidated in purges. Man-made famine and slave labor resulted in many hundreds of thousands of deaths. Craig Etcheson suggested that the death toll was between 2 and 2.5 million, with a most likely figure of 2.2 million. After spending five years excavating 20,000 grave sites, he concluded that "these mass graves contain the remains of 1,386,734 victims of execution."Steven Rosefielde argued that the Khmer Rouge were not racist by claiming that they did not intend to exterminate ethnic minorities, and he also stated that the Khmer Rouge did not intend to exterminate the Cambodian people as a whole; in his view, the Khmer Rouge's brutality was the product of an extreme version of communist ideology.
The investigating judges were presented with the names of five possible suspects by the prosecution on 18 July 2007.
Khieu Samphan at a public hearing before the pre-trial Cambodia Tribunal on 3 July 2009
Kang Kek Iew was formally charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity and detained by the Tribunal on 31 July 2007. He was indicted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity on 12 August 2008. His appeal was rejected on 3 February 2012, and he continued serving a sentence of life imprisonment.
Nuon Chea, a former prime minister, was indicted on charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and several other crimes under Cambodian law on 15 September 2010. He was transferred into the custody of the ECCC on 19 September 2007. His trial began on 27 June 2011. On 16 November 2018, he was sentenced to a life in prison for genocide.
Khieu Samphan, a former head of state, was indicted on charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and several other crimes under Cambodian law on 15 September 2010. He was transferred into the custody of the ECCC on 19 September 2007. His trial also began on 27 June 2011. On 16 November 2018, he was sentenced to a life in prison for genocide.
Ieng Sary, a former foreign minister, was indicted on charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and several other crimes under Cambodian law on 15 September 2010. He was transferred into the custody of the ECCC on 12 November 2007. His trial began on 27 June 2011. He died in March 2013.
Ieng Thirith, wife of Ieng Sary and a former minister for social affairs, was indicted on charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and several other crimes under Cambodian law on 15 September 2010. She was transferred into the custody of the ECCC on 12 November 2007. Proceedings against her have been suspended pending a health evaluation.
Some of the international jurists and the Cambodian government disagreed over whether any other people should be tried by the Tribunal.
In March 2005, the Security Council formally referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC, taking into account the Commission report but without mentioning any specific crimes. Two permanent members of the Security Council, the United States and China, abstained from the vote on the referral resolution. As of his fourth report to the Security Council, the Prosecutor found "reasonable grounds to believe that the individuals identified [in the UN Security Council Resolution 1593] have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes", but did not find sufficient evidence to prosecute for genocide.
In April 2007, the ICC issued arrest warrants against the former Minister of State for the Interior, Ahmad Harun, and a Janjaweed militia leader, Ali Kushayb, for crimes against humanity and war crimes. On 14 July 2008, the ICC filed ten charges of war crimes against Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir, three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity, and two of murder. Prosecutors claimed that al-Bashir "masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part" three tribal groups in Darfur because of their ethnicity. On 4 March 2009, the ICC issued a warrant for al-Bashir's arrest for crimes against humanity and war crimes but not for genocide. This is the first warrant issued by the ICC against a sitting head of state.
^By 1951, Lemkin was saying that the Soviet Union was the only state that could be indicted for genocide; his concept of genocide, as it was outlined in Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, covered Stalinist deportations as genocide by default, and differed from the adopted Genocide Convention in many ways. From a 21st-century perspective, its coverage was very broad, and as a result it would classify any gross human rights violation as a genocide, and many events that were deemed genocidal by Lemkin did not amount to genocide. As the Cold War began, this change was the result of Lemkin's turn to anti-communism in an attempt to convince the United States to ratify the Genocide Convention.
^Schabas 2009, p. 160: "Rigorous examination of the travaux fails to confirm a popular impression in the literature that the opposition to inclusion of political genocide was some Soviet machination. The Soviet views were also shared by a number of other States for whom it is difficult to establish any geographic or social common denominator: Lebanon, Sweden, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Iran, Egypt, Belgium, and Uruguay. The exclusion of political groups was originally promoted by a non-governmental organization, the World Jewish Congress, and it corresponded to Raphael Lemkin's vision of the nature of the crime of genocide."
^Jones 2006, p. 3: "The difficulty, as Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn pointed out in their early study, is that such historical records as exist are ambiguous and undependable. While history today is generally written with some fealty to 'objective' facts, most previous accounts aimed rather to praise the writer's patron (normally the leader) and to emphasize the superiority of one's own gods and religious beliefs."
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