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Lecture 10

HREQ 2010 Lecture 10: December 05

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York University
Human Rights and Equity Studies
HREQ 2010
Paul Brienza

-the responsibility of global communities -genocide did not exist prior to WWII -in international law, there was an overriding premise, which was state sovereignty: genocide was the concern of independent states, of what occurred within their own borders -thus, no international law was in place to condemn nations for committing genocidal acts -the state has been regarded the definer and defender of criminality: states can also become criminal actors ^-this requires a significant change in the way we see government and states -introduces the idea as it may have never existed before Definition of Genocide: -1939-1945 -in 1944, Raphael Lemkin devised the term genocide -he observes what is going on around him, the reality of the situation of Europe at that time, where in the case of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, genocide becomes a state policy -it becomes something states feel that they can do, which brings out a reaction that builds up over time -formation of the UN: different perspective of what states do -comprised of Greek: genos (race or tribe) and Latin: cide/cidere (kill) -focused murder or killing of people on the basis of race, tribe, nationality, religion, etc. -any targeting of people by the state for reasons of their ethnic, racial, religious differences -aiming at the destruction of the essential foundations of the life of national groups ^-not merely the targeting of few people, but a coordinated plan of extermination -to prove that a state is engaged in coordinated extermination, might be the greatest crime in human history -Nazi Germany: 10 million killed due to state policy -the state is the most dangerous criminal actor: they have murdered more people by planned genocide than can be compared with any other criminal actor -we oftentimes don’t perceive it as criminality, as the state has the power and capital to hide its actions as non criminal -the greatest tool the state has is the perception of a threat: the Jews -the state has the means of propaganda and education to sell this notion that these minorities present a threat -there is a United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide -development in the post-WWII era due to the formation of the UN: genocide is recognized as an international crime, which signatory nations are obligated to prevent and punish -this treaty obligates nations to take crimes seriously, which does not always mean that they do -there is a general attitude after WWII, at least for a time period, the idea of building a new society, world, or community, of never again -there is this language in international law that states that countries are obligated, which is why states are reluctant to use the term genocide -if the term genocide is employed, that obligates them to get involved..thus, the term ethnic cleansing is used The Crime of Genocide: -genocide is the greatest example of the violation of human rights -it is also the most severe type of crime that can be committed by a nation or government, as it takes away one’s basic right to life at a fundamental life, and as this is something that states can do very easily, this is very frightening -according to the UN convention just mentioned, genocide can be defined through the following key features: 1) The killing of members of a group: state can kill them in various ways: a) use its armed forces/police: can we find a connection between the actions of the police and the order of the government? This becomes difficult, as it is difficult to trace this back to one direct order 2) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group: this represents a visible mark of power a) torture: physical and psychological b) maiming -psychological: using media to demonize this particular group -there is a process involved, which seeks to demonize this group to receive the acceptance and support of the public -internal enemy: first step to genocide -cultural genocide: concerted effort to undermine a particular culture 3) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part: a) providing protection to these groups by displacing them, such as in the case of Jews: sectioning off people in this kind of way allows starvation, the dissemination of diseases, etc..the claim is made 4) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group: a) Sterilizing individuals as a means of preventing reproduction: physically, medically: Nazi Germany’s sterilization of homosexuals and disabled individuals -eugenics: producing a better race b) Rape: state terror -taking the right of reproduction away from a particular group and giving it to the state is a form of terror -emasculate the male population, in terms of taking reproduction rights away 5) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group -genocide is basically a ‘strategy of extermination’ -ethnic cleansing: the strategy of removing a particular group of people from a specified area. -”following orders” -Arendt: banality of evil: people can commit genocidal acts and still live normal lives -the state acts on this as a leader, thus normalizing this activity: people believe that they are merely following orders -Nuremberg: that is not a defense for murder Examples Prior to the 20th Century: th -general features of pre-20 century genocide: 1) Genocide was not seen as a crime punishable by international law, which is due to the following feature: 2) The acts of genocide were seen as internal matters of governance and order maintenance within the boundaries of a particular state -if a state was involved in genocidal acts, no one would condemn this, as it was regarded as an internal matter -state sovereignty: sovereign within those borders and boundaries: this is something all states wanted to promote, as all governments want to be recognized as the highest authority -this was the general structure in the international community -there was no special designation of genocide as an international crime in law -genocides occurred i
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