Genocide Convention

From Kazakhstan Encyclopedia

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The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948 as General Assembly Resolution 260. The Convention entered into force on 12 January 1951.[1] It defines genocide in legal terms, and is the culmination of years of campaigning by lawyer Raphael Lemkin.[2] All participating countries are advised to prevent and punish actions of genocide in war and in peacetime. The number of states that have ratified the convention is currently 143.

Definition of genocide

Article 2 of the Convention defines genocide as Template:Quotation

Article 3 defines the crimes that can be punished under the convention: Template:Quotation

The convention was passed to outlaw actions similar to the Holocaust by Nazi Germany during World War II. The first draft of the Convention included political killings, but the USSR[3] along with some other nations would not accept that actions against groups identified as holding similar political opinions or social status would constitute genocide,[4] so these stipulations were subsequently removed in a political and diplomatic compromise.


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Provisos granting immunity from prosecution for genocide without its consent were made by Bahrain, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, the United States, Vietnam, Yemen, and Yugoslavia.[5][6] Prior to its ratification of the convention, the United States Senate was treated to a speech by Senator William Proxmire in favor of this treaty every day that the Senate was in session between 1967 and 1986.


Immunity from prosecutions




Application to Non-Self-Governing Territories


Several countries opposed this article, considering that the convention should apply to Non-Self-Governing Territories:

The opposition of those countries were in turn opposed by:



The first time that the 1948 law was enforced occurred on 2 September 1998 when the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found Jean-Paul Akayesu, the former mayor of a small town in Rwanda, guilty of nine counts of genocide. The lead prosecutor in this case was Pierre-Richard Prosper. Two days later, Jean Kambanda became the first head of government to be convicted of genocide.


The first state to be found in breach of the Genocide convention was Serbia. In the Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro case the International Court of Justice presented its judgment on 26 February 2007. It cleared Serbia of direct involvement in genocide during the Bosnian war,[7] but ruled that Belgrade did breach international law by failing to prevent the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, and for failing to try or transfer the persons accused of genocide to the ICTY, in order to comply with its obligations under Articles I and VI of the Genocide Convention, in particular in respect of General Ratko Mladić.[8][9]

Other accusations

United States

One of the first accusations of genocide submitted to the UN after the Convention entered into force concerned treatment of Black people in the United States. The Civil Rights Congress drafted a 237-page petition arguing that even after 1945, the United States had been responsible for hundreds of wrongful deaths, both legal and extra-legal, as well as numerous other genocidal abuses. Leaders from the Black community, including William Patterson, Paul Robeson, and W. E. B. DuBois presented this petition to the UN in December 1951.[10]

See also



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Further reading

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