Genocide and Justice
Definition of Genocide:
•Genocide is committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or part, a national,
ethnical, racial or religious group.
•The systematic elimination of a group based on their race, gender, ethnicity, religion,
•Acts directed against political groups are excluded from the definition of genocide
•For something to be classified as genocide, there has to be present the systematic
•the killer to wipe out significant numbers of the victimized group
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.
•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
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
•other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population before/ during the
War Crimes (or violations of the laws and customs of war):
•deportation of slave labour or for any other purpose of the civilian population of or in
Ad Hoc International Tribunal for Nuremberg Laws – 1944
•It’s from the Nuremberg trials that we get the fundamental body of law that will
govern our conversation today about genocide
•Nuremberg trials set up by a council of the victorious nations to try the defeated
•It’s from that sense that we get the controversy of Victor’s Justice
•It was not sanctioned by any international institution thus ad hoc status
•council of victors of the war on the Nazi Germans set up the Nuremberg Laws
•From this we begin to consider Victors’ Justice: how we understand justice, who
establishes the rules of justice etc.
•The genocide of the Jews during the holocaust reshaped the way states function in
their people and how the international system would intervene in the event of crimes
population of crimes committed against soldiers during war.
Difference 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
•Latter must be shown to have resulted from widespread and systematic policy.
•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.
Objections frequently raised against the Convention on Genocide:
•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
1. The Nuremberg Laws marked a fundamental change in International Law
(Governments could be held accountable for actions against their own citizenry or
those under their control)
2.Trial of Nazi war criminals.
Key Points of Nuremberg Laws/International Criminal Justice System: