Introduction to Genocide Convention

Introduction to Genocide Convention - United Nations...

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United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law C ONVENTION FOR THE P REVENTION AND P UNISHMENT OF THE C RIME OF G ENOCIDE By William A. Schabas Professor of International Law, National University of Ireland, Galway Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights The text of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948. After obtaining the requisite twenty ratifications required by article XIII, the Convention entered into force on 12 January 1951. The term “genocide” was first used by Raphael Lemkin in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe , published in late 1944. Although the word appears in the drafting history of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, the final text of that instrument uses the cognate term “crimes against humanity” to deal with the persecution and physical extermination of national, ethnic, racial and religious minorities. Prosecutors also used the term occasionally in their submissions to the Nuremberg Tribunal, but “genocide” does not appear in the final judgment, issued on 30 September - 1 October 1946. The failure of the International Military Tribunal to condemn what some called “peacetime genocide” prompted immediate efforts within the United Nations General Assembly. In effect, the Tribunal had confined the scope of crimes against humanity to acts perpetrated after the outbreak of war, in September 1939. At the first session of the General Assembly, in late 1946, Cuba, Panama and India presented a draft resolution that had two objectives: a declaration that genocide was a crime that could be committed in peacetime as well as in time of war, and recognition that genocide was subject to universal jurisdiction (that is, it could be prosecuted by any State, even in the absence of a territorial or personal link). General Assembly resolution 96 (I), adopted on 11 December 1946, affirmed “that genocide is a crime under international law which the civilized world condemns”. It was silent as to whether the crime could be committed in peacetime, and although it described genocide as a crime “of international concern”, it provided no clarification on the subject of jurisdiction. Resolution 96 (I) mandated the preparation of a draft convention on the crime of genocide. Drafting of the Genocide Convention Drafting of the Convention proceeded in three main stages. First, the United Nations Secretariat composed a draft text. Prepared with the assistance of three experts, Raphael Lemkin, Vespasian Pella and Henri Donnedieu de Vabres, it was actually a compendium of concepts meant to assist the General Assembly rather than any attempt to provide a workable instrument or to resolve major differences. Second, the Secretariat draft was reworked by an Ad Hoc Committee set up under the authority of the Economic and Social Council. Finally, the Ad Hoc Committee draft was the basis of negotiations in the Sixth
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This note was uploaded on 02/11/2012 for the course GENERAL ST 410 taught by Professor Huck during the Fall '11 term at Berea.

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Introduction to Genocide Convention - United Nations...

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