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, who coined the term by reference to the Simele massacre, the Holocaust, and the Armenian Genocide. 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 140.
Definition of genocide
Article 2 of the Convention defines genocide as
...any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
– 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:
– 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. (See:http://www.preventgenocide.org/law/convention/reservations/). (Also see:http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-1&chapter=4&lang=en). 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.
Full article ▸