Cultural genocide is a term that lawyer Raphael Lemkin proposed in 1933 as a component to genocide. The term was considered in the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples juxtaposed next to the term ethnocide, but it was removed in the final document, replaced with simply "genocide". The precise definition of "cultural genocide" remains unclear. Although the term 'ethnocide' has been sometimes used as a replacement for 'cultural genocide', but this usage confuses ethnicity and culture.
As early as 1933, lawyer Raphael Lemkin proposed a cultural component to genocide, which he called "cultural genocide". The term has since acquired rhetorical value as a phrase that is used to protest against the destruction of cultural heritage. It is also often misused as a catchphrase to condemn any destruction the user of the phrase disapproves of, without regard for the criterion of intent to destroy an affected group as such.
The drafters of the 1948 Genocide Convention considered the use of the term, but dropped it from their consideration. The legal definition of genocide is left unspecific about the exact nature in which genocide is done only that it is destruction with intent to destroy a racial, religious, ethnic or national group as such.
Article 7 of a 1994 draft of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples uses the phrase "cultural genocide" but does not define what it means. The complete article reads as follows:
- Indigenous peoples have the collective and individual right not to be subjected to ethnocide and cultural genocide, including prevention of and redress for:
- (a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities;
- (b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;
- (c) Any form of population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;
- (d) Any form of assimilation or integration by other cultures or ways of life imposed on them by legislative, administrative or other measures;
- (e) Any form of propaganda directed against them.
This declaration only appeared in a draft. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly during its 62nd session at UN Headquarters in New York City on 13 September 2007, but only mentions "genocide", not "cultural genocide", although the article is otherwise unchanged.
Examples of the term's usage
The term was used for describing destruction of cultural heritage in connection with various events:
- The persecution of Bahá'ís in Iran as a case of religious persecution has been called a cultural genocide by some scholars.
- In reference to the Axis powers (primarily, Nazi Germany) policies towards some nations in World War II (ex. destruction of Polish culture)
- In 2007, a Canadian Member of Parliament criticized the Ministry of Indian Affairs' destruction of documents regarding the treatment of First Nations members as "cultural genocide."
- The destruction by Azerbaijan of thousands of medieval Armenian gravestones at a cemetery in Julfa, and Azerbaijan's subsequent denial that the site had ever existed, has been written about as being an example of cultural genocide by some scholars.
- Branch of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the German occupation of Poland and the Japanese occupation of Korea has been mentioned as a case of cultural genocide.
- In 1989, Robert Badinter, a French criminal lawyer known for his stance against the death penalty, used the term "cultural genocide" on a television show to describe what he said was the disappearance of Tibetan culture in the presence of the 14th Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama would later use the term himself in 1993 and in 2008.
- Historian Jean Brownfield cited the 1638 Treaty of Hartford as a "clear and explicit historical example of a cultural genocide, in which the Pequot language and name were outlawed and there was a clearly stated intention that this cultural entity would simply cease to exist" 
- Scott Stewart, of Stratfor Global Intelligence, notes that Anders Breivik called for a war until "indigenous peoples of Europe are no longer threatened by cultural genocide."
- Gerard Delanty; Krishan Kumar (29 June 2006). The SAGE Handbook of Nations and Nationalism. SAGE. p. 326. ISBN 978-1-4129-0101-7. Retrieved 28 February 2013. "The term 'ethnocide' has in the past been used as a replacement for cultural genocide (Palmer 1992; Smith 1991:30-3), with the obvious risk of confusing ethnicity and culture."
- Raphael Lemkin, Acts Constituting a General (Transnational) Danger Considered as Offences Against the Law of Nations (J. Fussell trans., 2000) (1933); Raphael Lemkin, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, p. 91 (1944).
- Hirad Abtahi; Philippa Webb (2008). The Genocide Convention. BRILL. pp. 731–. ISBN 978-90-04-17399-6. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
- Lawrence Davidson (8 March 2012). Cultural Genocide. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0-8135-5344-3. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
- See Prosecutor v. Krstic, Case No. IT-98-33-T (Int'l Crim. Trib. Yugo. Trial Chamber 2001), at para. 576.
- Convention on Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, art. 2, Dec. 9, 1948, 78 U.N.T.S. 277.
- Draft United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples drafted by The Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities Recalling resolutions 1985/22 of 29 August 1985, 1991/30 of 29 August 1991, 1992/33 of 27 August 1992, 1993/46 of 26 August 1993, presented to the Commission on Human Rights and the Economic and Social Council at 36th meeting 26 August 1994 and adopted without a vote.
- Ghanea-Hercock, Nazila (1997). "Review of secondary literature in English on recent persecutions of Bahá'ís in Iran". Bahá'í Studies Review (Association for Baha'i Studies English-Speaking Europe) 7. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- Nader Saiedi (1 May 2008). Gate of the Heart: Understanding the Writings of the Báb. Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press. p. 377. ISBN 978-1-55458-035-4. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
- Frelick, Bill (Fall 1987). "Iranian Baha'is and Genocide Early Warning". Social Science Record 24 (2): 35–37. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- William Schabas, Genocide in international law: the crimes of crimes, Cambridge University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-521-78790-4, Google Print, p.179
- Jorge Barrera , ‘Genocide’ target of fed coverup: MP, Edmonton Sun, April 25, 2007.
- History Today, November 2007, "Sacred Stones Silenced in Azerbaijan"
- Switzerland-Armenia Parliamentary Group, "The Destruction of Jugha", Bern, 2006.
- CGS 1st Workshop: “Cultural Genocide” and the Japanese Occupation of Korea "During Germany's occupation of Poland (1939-1945) and Japan's occupation of Korea (1910-1945), the prohibition of use of the native tongue, the renaming of people and places, the removal of indigenous people from institutions of higher education, the destruction of cultural facilities, the denial of freedom of religious faith, and the changing of cultural education all took place. The instances of German cultural genocide, which Lemkin took as his basis, cannot be ignored when conducting comparative research."
- Les droits de l'homme Apostrophes, A2 - 21 April 1989 - 01h25m56s, Web site of the INA
- 10th March Archive
- "'Eighty killed' in Tibetan unrest". BBC News. 2008-03-16.
- Dr. Jean F. Brownfield, "The Dark Pits of American History" (Forward; Ch. 3)
- Scott Stewart (July 28, 2011). "Norway: Lessons from a Successful Lone Wolf Attacker".