Friday, 6 February 2009

Genocide Convention at 60

This is an article I have written recently on the Genocide Convention and the meaning of the word 'genocide', published on the 'Crimes of War' website: www.crimesofwar.org/onnews/news-schabas.html

3 comments:

xabier said...

Dear Professor,

Thank you for this excellent article, which I enjoyed very much reading. We can now see that genocide, as you suggest, has become "unimportant", as a matter of judicial practice. But this is not really a new observation. 60 years ago some experts already assessed that genocide was "unnecessary" as a new type of crime, once crimes against humanity had been already established in Nuremberg, to address essentially the same kind of reality (i.e. the holocaust). I understand this was the view of Hartley Shawcross (Chief UK prosecutor at Nuremberg and then Attorney General), who was already very critical with Lemkin by 1947. Note the recent book by J. Cooper , Raphael Lemkin and the Struggle for the Genocide Convention.

Thank you and best regards,
Xabier

Julia said...

Dear Professor,

Here's an article about the use and misuse of the word genocide:
http://worldfocus.org/blog/2009/02/05/debate-continues-over-what-constitutes-genocide/3925/
Although it is somewhat simplistic, I found it interesting that the debate surrounding the term is not restricted to our classroom discussions.


Julia Barbosa

A Solomon said...

Thank you for your excellent blog, it is always an essential read.

I have just read your article on the Genocide Convention, which was very interesting. I have just a few thoughts though.

I agree that the process of defining genocide was not arbitrary, since, the exclusion of economic, political and social groups did produce a great deal of debate during the drafting process. However, I thought that the decision to exclude these groups was, in part, a political concession to protect certain leaders from liability?

Also, my problem with the logic of the definition of genocide in the Convention is that different people murdered in the same atrocity are not treated in the same way. For example, a trade unionist killed in a concentration camp alongside a Jewish person would not be considered a victim of genocide, even though the wrong done to them is equally horrific. To take a more recent example, like the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge, a large number of victims do not fall under the definition of the Convention as they were intellectuals or members of political groups. This would have caused a great deal of confusion if DK leaders had been prosecuted for genocide, as the court would have overlooked the murder of people from these groups, so denying their families justice.

Thanks once again.

Alex