Genocide denial occurs when an act of genocide is met with attempts to deny the occurrence and minimize the scale or death toll. The most well-known type is Holocaust denial, but its definition can extend to any genocide that has been minimized or met with excessive skepticism.
Where there is near universal agreement that a genocide occurred, genocide denial is usually considered a form of illegitimate historical revisionism. However, in circumstances where the event in dispute is not seen to constitute genocide by the majority of scholars, the use of the term may be an ad hominem by those who argue that a genocide occurred.
The extremely serious nature of the crime of genocide, along with the terrible reputation it creates, and potential repercussions that may come against a nation as a result of committing it, ensures that whenever genocide is charged, there will be parties that attempt to avoid or divert blame. However as Larissa van den Herik has pointed out there is a gap in international law that encourages the use of the charge of genocide when other charges might be more appropriate "The only way for Bosnia to go to the ICJ was to allege genocide. There is no Crimes against Humanity Convention providing for jurisdiction for the ICJ"
The European Union's executive Commission proposed a European Union wide anti-racism law in 2001, which included an offense of genocide denial, but European Union states failed to agree on the balance between prohibiting racism and freedom of expression. After six years of wrangling a watered down compromise was reached in 2007 giving states freedom to implement the legislation as they saw fit.
Techniques used by illegitimate historical revisionists
The distinction between respectable academic historians and those of illegitimate historical revisionists rests on the techniques used to write such histories. Accuracy and revision are central to historical scholarship. As in any academic discipline, historians' papers are submitted to peer review. Instead of submitting their work to the challenges of peer review, illegitimate revisionists rewrite history to support an agenda, often political, using any number of techniques and logical fallacies to obtain their results.
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