|Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide|
|Signed||9 December 1948|
|Effective||12 January 1951|
|Parties||143 (Complete List)|
|Depositary||Secretary-General of the United Nations|
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. It defines genocide in legal terms, and is the culmination of years of campaigning by lawyer Raphael Lemkin. 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
- (a) Killing members of the group;
- (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
- (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
- (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
- (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.— Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2
Article 3 defines the crimes that can be punished under the convention:
- (a) Genocide;
- (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
- (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
- (d) Attempt to commit genocide;
- (e) Complicity in genocide.— Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 3
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 along with some other nations would not accept that actions against groups identified as holding similar political opinions or social status would constitute genocide, so these stipulations were subsequently removed in a political and diplomatic compromise.
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. 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
Persons charged with genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be tried by a competent tribunal of the State in the territory of which the act was committed, or by such international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction with respect to those Contracting Parties which shall have accepted its jurisdiction.— Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 6
Any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III.— Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 8
Disputes between the Contracting Parties relating to the interpretation, application or fulfilment of the present Convention, including those relating to the responsibility of a State for genocide or for any of the other acts enumerated in article III, shall be submitted to the International Court of Justice at the request of any of the parties to the dispute.— Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 9
- Malaysia (reservation opposed by Netherlands, United Kingdom)
- Philippines (reservation opposed by Norway )
- Rwanda (reservation opposed by United Kingdom )
- Singapore (reservation opposed by Netherlands, United Kingdom)
- United Arab Emirates
- United States of America (reservation opposed by Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom )
- Vietnam (reservation opposed by United Kingdom )
- Yemen (reservation opposed by United Kingdom )
- Yugoslavia (Montenegro, Serbia, ...)
Application to Non-Self-Governing Territories
Any Contracting Party may at any time, by notification addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, extend the application of the present Convention to all or any of the territories for the conduct of whose foreign relations that Contracting Party is responsible— Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 12
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:
- Sri Lanka
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
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, 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.
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. However, this accusation was a domestic political act by the Civil Rights Congress, without any reservations that a formal charge would be levied against the U.S.
- Armenian Genocide
- Command responsibility
- Human rights abuse
- International law
- International human rights law
- War crimes
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Status of the Convention
- Auron, Yair, The Banality of Denial, (Transaction Publishers, 2004), 9.
- Text of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, website of the UNHCHR.
- Robert Gellately & Ben Kiernan (2003). The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 267. ISBN 0-521-52750-3.
- Staub, Ervin. The Roots of Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Other Group Violence. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 8. ISBN 0-521-42214-0.]
- Prevent Genocide International: Declarations and Reservations to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
- United Nations Treaty Collection: Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Archived 20 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine., STATUS AS AT: 01-10-2011 07:22:22 EDT
- Hudson, Alexandra (26 February 2007). "Serbia cleared of genocide, failed to stop killing". Reuters.
- ICJ:Summary of the Judgment of 26 February 2007 – Bosnia v. Serbia
- Court Declares Bosnia Killings Were Genocide The New York Times, 26 February 2007. A copy of the ICJ judgement can be found here
- John Docker, "Raphaël Lemkin, creator of the concept of genocide: a world history perspective", Humanities Research 16(2), 2010.
- Henham, Ralph J.; Chalfont, Paul; Behrens, Paul (Editors 2007). The criminal law of genocide: international, comparative and contextual aspects, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., ISBN 0-7546-4898-2, ISBN 978-0-7546-4898-7 p. 98
- Introductory note by William Schabas and procedural history note on the Genocide Convention in the Historic Archives of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law