Genocide and Justice
Genocide is committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or part, a national, ethnical, racial or
The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide passed in 1948
-this convention is silent on means of prevention, appropriate remedial actions; what is
appropriate justice for the victims/punishment for the perpetrators?
3 Levels of Criminal Activity: Genocide (most serious), Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes.
1). Genocide occurs by:
-killing members of the group
-causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
-deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical
destruction, in whole or in part
-imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
-forcibly transferring children of one group to another group
-acts directed against political groups are excluded from the definition of genocide
ex. Nuremberg; in response to first systematic intent and murder of mass scale i.e. Jews in
Europe/Holocaust b/c of racial and religious reasons
2). Crimes against Humanity – International Criminal Injustice
The Charter of the International Military Tribunal, passed in 1945 after WWII, described these
atrocities as customary international crimes that justify international criminal sanctions, namely:
-rape, or other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population before/ during the war.
3). War Crimes, or violations of the laws and customs of war, namely:
deportation of slave labour or for any other purpose of the civilian population of or in occupied
Ad Hoc International Tribunal for Nuremberg Laws - 1944
- not sanctioned by any international institution thus ad hoc status
- council of victors of the war on the Nazi Germans
-they set up the Nuremberg Laws
-From this we begin to consider Victors’ Justice: how we understand justice, who establishes
the rules of justice etc.
Genocide and Justice
Diff. between War Crimes and Crimes Against humanity
-was killing deliberate, systematic, planned, designed and prejudiced against a group of people?
If yes; genocide/crime against humanity
-one instance of a reprehensible act could be a war crime, but not a crime against humanity.
Latter must be shown to have resulted from widespread and systematic policy.
-Also, crimes against humanity (e.g.) destruction of property and systematic persecution) can
occur in any setting, while a war crime takes place only during a war.
The objections most frequently raised against the Convention on Genocide include:
-The convention excludes targeted political and social groups
-Proving intention beyond reasonable doubt is extremely difficult
-The difficulty of defining or measuring “in part”, and establishing how many deaths equal
1). The trial of Nazi war criminals.
2). The Nuremberg Laws marked a fundamental change in International Law:
1 Trial of Nazi war criminals.
2 Key Points of Nuremberg Laws/International Criminal Justice System:
First: Governments are in fact accountable for actions against their own citizenry or those under
their control in any sector said govn’t occupies, during war.
>Sec. General is rep. of the State, and it is the State[s] who matter in the International System
>State sovereignty doesn’t trump everything, in fact, these states have responsibility to their
citizenry and other states, so state sovereignty no longer an adequate legal principle to absolve
state from punishment or blame for committing genocide/crimes against civilians
The trials emphasized the duty to prosecute and punish, so as:
>to preserve the collective memory of those who were killed to MEMORIALIZE the victims
>to create a collective and objective HISTORY of what had happened – there are those with
vested political interest in circumstances of genocide
>to create an effective DETERRENT – punishment of those who perpetrated the acts
Second: Even at risk of individual soldiers’ lives, that is no excuse from committing genocide/
criminal acts against citizenry
Responsibilities of Individual States
1).Even after they have been defeated and replaced, the perpetrators of past crimes may still