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Genocide prevention and the UN convention

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  1. Executive summary
  2. Introduction
  3. Definition of Genocide
    1. The restriction of the groups potentially victim
    2. The limited enumeration of prohibited acts
    3. The specific intent: to destroy in whole or in part
  4. An ambitious application of such a convention
    1. The necessary extension of the groups protected
    2. The necessary extension of the acts perpetrated
  5. The emergency to revise the convention
    1. Impossibility to convict of genocide without the existence of a system
    2. Impossibility to prosecute a political genocide
  6. Conclusion

The term genocide comes from the Greek word genos, which means race or tribe and the Latin word cide, which means killing . The word genocide only appeared in the indictment for Nuremberg trail, neither in its Charter nor its judgment. For this trial, the crime of genocide has actually been prosecuted as a part of Crime against Humanity. It acquired autonomous significance as a specific crime in 1948, when the UN GA (United Nations General Assembly) adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948 . It is impossible to analyse the whole Convention in an essay.
Therefore, even if one can recognize some positive points of this text, such as the punishment of acts related with Genocide, the prohibition of such a crime regardless of whether it is perpetrated in time of war or peace, the responsibility of the perpetrator as well as the State engaged, we will concentrate our topic on the definition of Genocide given by the Convention in its Article II . This provision is replicated in Article 4 (2) of the ICTY Statute, Article 2 (2) of the ICTR Statute, and Article 6 of the ICC Statute. The definition given in the Convention has also become part of customary international law and a norm of jus cogens .
Indeed, the influence of this definition justifies that one wonders about the efficiency of the Convention. As the text has been unable to prevent new Genocide after its entry into force, one can call its effectiveness into question.

[...] It is particularly problematic that the definition be so restrictive whereas the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution during its First Session to affirm that genocide was a crime committed on ?religious, racial, political, or any other grounds?[6] It seems however that States refused to include political groups under the protection of the Convention because they considered it would allow interference in the domestic political affairs of States, thereby undermining their national security[7] Without the recognition of political, cultural and economic Genocide in the Convention, this later ?confined itself to the physical destruction of groups to which persons in most instances belong ?involuntarily? and often by birth?[8] 3 The membership's question Another problem arisen by the definition of groups is that the membership of a group is essentially a subjective concept. [...]


[...] This enumeration constitutes a problem for the efficiency of the Convention as it bound, without reason, the definition of Genocide in a restrictive list. As predict the future horrors of criminal are impossible, confine Genocide's definition in a restrictive enumeration close obviously the door to a certain number of prosecutions. The specific intent: to destroy in whole or in part 1 The intent of destruction It appears fundamental to note that Genocide do not require the actual extermination of group. [...]


[...] For instance, the inclusion of ?cultural group?[15] was rejected by the Sixth (Legal) Committee of the UN General Assembly on the grounds that Convention relates to physical destruction of a group, not to eliminating its cultural attributes, that the concept of cultural genocide was not susceptible to precise definition, that it might impede legitimate efforts by States to foster a national community and civilize ?primitive? peoples, and that the subject was better left to Human Rights One can also note that groups having been victim of Genocide during World War II such as mentally ill people or homosexual are not included in the definition of the Convention. [...]

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