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Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. The term was coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin. It is defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) of 1948 as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group's conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
The preamble to the CPPCG states that "genocide is a crime under international law, contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and condemned by the civilized world", and it also states that "at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity."
See also: Genocide definitions
The debate continues over what legally constitutes genocide. One definition is any conflict that the International Criminal Court has so designated. Mohammed Hassan Kakar argues that the definition should include political groups or any group so defined by the perpetrator. He prefers the definition from Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn, which defines genocide as "a form of one-sided mass killing in which a state or other authority intends to destroy a group so defined by the perpetrator."
In literature, some scholars have popularly emphasized the role that the Soviet Union played in excluding political groups from the international definition of genocide, which is contained in the Genocide Convention of 1948, and in particular they have written that Joseph Stalin may have feared greater international scrutiny of the political killings that occurred in the country, such as the Great Purge; however, this claim is not supported by evidence. The Soviet view was shared and supported by many diverse countries, and they were also in line with Raphael Lemkin's original conception,[a] and it was originally promoted by the World Jewish Congress.
Main article: Genocides in history (before World War I)
Analysis of genocides before World War I is the result of modern studies that apply objectivity and fact, while previous accounts of genocides mostly aimed to emphasize one's own superiority. According to Frank Chalk, Helen Fein, and Kurt Jonassohn, if a dominant group of people had little in common with a marginalized group of people, it was easy for the dominant group to define the marginalized group as a subhuman group; the marginalized group might be labeled a threat that must be eliminated.
While the concept of genocide was formulated by Lemkin in the mid-20th century, the expansion of various European colonial powers, such as the British and the Spanish Empires, and the subsequent establishment of colonies on indigenous territory frequently involved acts of genocidal violence against indigenous groups in the Americas, Australia, Africa, and Asia. According to Lemkin, colonization was in itself "intrinsically genocidal", and he saw this genocide as a two-stage process, the first being the destruction of the indigenous population's way of life. In the second stage, the newcomers impose their way of life on the indigenous group. According to David Maybury-Lewis, imperial and colonial forms of genocide are enacted in two main ways, either through the deliberate clearing of territories of their original inhabitants to make them exploitable for purposes of resource extraction or colonial settlements, or through enlisting indigenous peoples as forced laborers in colonialist or imperialist projects of resource extraction. The designation of specific events as genocidal is often controversial.
Main article: Genocides in history (World War I through World War II)
In 1915, one year after the outbreak of World War I, the concept of crimes against humanity was introduced into international relations for the first time, when the Allies of World War I sent a letter to the government of the Ottoman Empire, a member of the Central Powers, to protest against the late Ottoman genocides that were taking place within the empire, among them, the Armenian genocide, the Assyrian genocide, the Greek genocide, and the Great Famine of Mount Lebanon. The Holocaust, the Nazi genocide of 6 million European Jews during World War II, is the most studied genocide, and it is also a prototype of genocide; one of the most controversial questions among comparative scholars is the question of the Holocaust's uniqueness, which led to the Historikerstreit in West Germany during the 1980s, and whether there exist historical parallels, which critics believe trivializes it.
Genocide studies started as a side academic field of Holocaust studies, whose researchers associated genocide with the Holocaust and believed that Raphael Lemkin's definition of genocide was too broad. In 1985, the United Nations' (UN) Whitaker Report cited the massacre of 100,000 to 250,000 Jews in more than 2,000 pogroms which occurred as part of the White Terror during the Russian Civil War as an act of genocide; it also suggested that consideration should be given to ecocide, ethnocide, and cultural genocide.
Main article: Genocides in history (1946 to 1999)
The Genocide Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1948 and came into effect on 12 January 1951. After the necessary twenty countries became parties to the convention, it came into force as international law on 12 January 1951; however, only two of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council were parties to the treaty, which caused the Convention to languish for over four decades. During the Cold War era, mass atrocities were committed by anti-communist/capitalist regimes, as well as by communist regimes, among them the Indonesian mass killings of 1965–66, the 1971 Bangladesh genocide, the Cambodian genocide, and the East Timor genocide.
The Rwandan genocide gave an extra impetus to genocide studies in the 1990s.
Main article: Genocides in history (21st century)
In The Guardian, David Alton, Helen Clark, and Michael Lapsley wrote that the reasons for the Rwandan genocide and crimes such as the Bosnian genocide of the Yugoslav Wars had been analyzed in-depth, and they also stated that genocide prevention had been extensively discussed. They described the analyses as producing "reams of paper [that] were dedicated to analyzing the past and pledging to heed warning signs and prevent genocide."
A group of 34 non-governmental organizations and 31 individuals, calling themselves African Citizens, referred to the Rwanda: The Preventable Genocide report prepared by a panel headed by former Botswana president Quett Masire for the Organisation of African Unity, which later became the African Union. African Citizens highlighted the sentences, commenting: "Indisputably, the most important truth that emerges from our investigation is that the Rwandan genocide could have been prevented by those in the international community who had the position and means to do so. ... The world failed Rwanda. ... [The United Nations] simply did not care enough about Rwanda to intervene appropriately." Chidi Odinkalu, former head of the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria, was among those involved with African Citizens.
The ongoing Amhara genocide started in the early 1990s with the implementation of ethnic federalism under the TPLF-led ruling, and events of the Northern Ethiopia war (Tigray conflict) since 2020 that intensified the violence further with war crimes committed by the Tigray forces in both the Amhara & Afar regions. On 20 November 2021, Genocide Watch called for genocide in Ethiopia, predicted in the context of the war in Tigray and also the violence across the Oromia, and the Benishangul-Gumuz (Metekel) regions that worsened since 2018. On 21 November, Odinkalu called for genocide prevention, stating: "We need to focus on an urgent programme of Genocide Prevention advocacy on Ethiopia NOW. It may be too late in 2 weeks, guys." On 26 November, African Citizens and Alton, Clark, and Lapsley also called for the predicted genocide to be prevented.
The Rohingya genocide is an ongoing genocide of the Muslim Rohingya people consisting of arson, rape, ethnic cleansing, and infanticide by the Burmese military. The genocide has so far consisted of two phases so: the first was a military crackdown that occurred from October 2016 to January 2017, and the second has been occurring since August 2017.
The Uyghur genocide is an ongoing series of human rights abuses committed by the Chinese government against Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang. Legislatures in several countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, and France, have passed non-binding motions describing China's actions as genocide. The United States officially denounced China's treatment of Uyghurs as a genocide.
In 1951, only two of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) were parties to the convention, namely France and the Republic of China. The treaty was ratified by the Soviet Union in 1954, the United Kingdom in 1970, the People's Republic of China in 1983 (having replaced the Taiwan-based Republic of China on the UNSC in 1971), and the United States in 1988. In the 1990s, the international law on the crime of genocide began to be enforced.
In July 1995, Serbian forces killed more than 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), mainly men and boys, both in and around the town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian War. The killing was perpetrated by units of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) which were under the command of General Ratko Mladić. The Secretary-General of the United Nations described the mass murder as the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War. A paramilitary unit from Serbia known as the Scorpions, officially a part of the Serbian Interior Ministry until 1991, participated in the massacre, along with several hundred Russian and Greek volunteers.
In 2001, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) delivered its first conviction for the crime of genocide, against General Krstić for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre (on appeal he was found not guilty of genocide but was instead found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide).
In February 2007, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) returned a judgment in the Bosnian Genocide Case. It upheld the ICTY's findings that genocide had been committed in and around Srebrenica but did not find that genocide had been committed on the wider territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war. The ICJ also ruled that Serbia was not responsible for the genocide nor was it responsible for "aiding and abetting it", although it ruled that Serbia could have done more to prevent the genocide and that Serbia failed to punish the perpetrators. Before this ruling, the term Bosnian Genocide had been used by some academics and human rights officials.
In 2010, Vujadin Popović, Lieutenant Colonel and the Chief of Security of the Drina Corps of the Bosnian Serb Army, and Ljubiša Beara, Colonel and Chief of Security of the same army, were convicted of genocide, extermination, murder and persecution by the ICTY for their role in the Srebrenica massacre and were each sentenced to life in prison. In 2016 and 2017, Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić were sentenced for genocide.
German courts handed down convictions for genocide during the Bosnian War. Novislav Djajic was indicted for his participation in the genocide, but the Higher Regional Court failed to find that there was sufficient certainty for a criminal conviction for genocide. Nevertheless, Djajic was found guilty of 14 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. At Djajic's appeal on 23 May 1997, the Bavarian Appeals Chamber found that acts of genocide were committed in June 1992, confined within the administrative district of Foca. The Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) of Düsseldorf, in September 1997, handed down a genocide conviction against Nikola Jorgic, a Bosnian Serb from the Doboj region who was the leader of a paramilitary group located in the Doboj region. He was sentenced to four terms of life imprisonment for his involvement in genocidal actions that took place in regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, other than Srebrenica. On 29 November 1999, the Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) of Düsseldorf "condemned Maksim Sokolovic to 9 years in prison for aiding and abetting the crime of genocide and for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions."
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is a court under the auspices of the United Nations for the prosecution of offences committed during the Rwandan genocide during April and May 1994, commencing on 6 April. The ICTR was created on 8 November 1994 by the UN Security Council to resolve claims in Rwanda, or by Rwandan citizens in nearby states, between 1 January and 31 December 1994. For approximately 100 days from the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana on 6 April through mid-July, at least 800,000 people were killed according to a Human Rights Watch estimate.
As of mid-2011, the ICTR had convicted 57 people and acquitted 8. Another ten persons were still on trial while one (Bernard Munyagishari) is awaiting trial; nine remain at large. The first trial, of Jean-Paul Akayesu, ended in 1998 with his conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity. Jean Kambanda, the interim prime minister during the genocide, pleaded guilty. This was the world's first conviction for genocide, as defined by the 1948 Convention.
The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, Ta Mok, and others, perpetrated the mass killing of ideologically suspect groups, ethnic minorities such as ethnic Vietnamese, Chinese or Sino-Khmers, Chams, and Thais, former civil servants, former government soldiers, Buddhist monks, secular intellectuals and professionals, and former city dwellers. Khmer Rouge cadres who were defeated in factional struggles were also liquidated in purges. Man-made famine and slave labor resulted in many hundreds of thousands of deaths. Craig Etcheson suggested that the death toll was between 2 and 2.5 million, with a most likely figure of 2.2 million. After spending five years excavating 20,000 grave sites, he concluded that "these mass graves contain the remains of 1,386,734 victims of execution." Steven Rosefielde argued that the Khmer Rouge were not racist by claiming that they did not intend to exterminate ethnic minorities, and he also stated that the Khmer Rouge did not intend to exterminate the Cambodian people as a whole; in his view, the Khmer Rouge's brutality was the product of an extreme version of communist ideology.
On 6 June 2003, the Cambodian government and the United Nations reached an agreement to set up the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), which would focus exclusively on crimes committed by the most senior Khmer Rouge officials during the period of Khmer Rouge rule of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. The judges were sworn in during early July 2006.
The investigating judges were presented with the names of five possible suspects by the prosecution on 18 July 2007.
Some of the international jurists and the Cambodian government disagreed over whether any other people should be tried by the Tribunal.
See also: International Criminal Court
The ICC can only prosecute crimes that were committed on or after 1 July 2002.
The ongoing racial conflict in Darfur, Sudan, which started in 2003, was declared a genocide by United States Secretary of State Colin Powell on 9 September 2004 in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Since that time however, no other permanent member of the UN Security Council has followed suit. In January 2005, an International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1564 of 2004, issued a report stating that "the Government of the Sudan has not pursued a policy of genocide." Nevertheless, the Commission cautioned that "The conclusion that no genocidal policy has been pursued and implemented in Darfur by the Government authorities, directly or through the militias under their control, should not be taken in any way as detracting from the gravity of the crimes perpetrated in that region. International offences such as the crimes against humanity and war crimes that have been committed in Darfur may be no less serious and heinous than genocide."
In March 2005, the Security Council formally referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC, taking into account the Commission report but without mentioning any specific crimes. Two permanent members of the Security Council, the United States and China, abstained from the vote on the referral resolution. As of his fourth report to the Security Council, the Prosecutor found "reasonable grounds to believe that the individuals identified [in the UN Security Council Resolution 1593] have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes", but did not find sufficient evidence to prosecute for genocide.
In April 2007, the ICC issued arrest warrants against the former Minister of State for the Interior, Ahmad Harun, and a Janjaweed militia leader, Ali Kushayb, for crimes against humanity and war crimes. On 14 July 2008, the ICC filed ten charges of war crimes against Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir, three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity, and two of murder. Prosecutors claimed that al-Bashir "masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part" three tribal groups in Darfur because of their ethnicity. On 4 March 2009, the ICC issued a warrant for al-Bashir's arrest for crimes against humanity and war crimes but not for genocide. This is the first warrant issued by the ICC against a sitting head of state.
Two days after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, on 26 February, Ukraine brought the case of Allegations of Genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide before the ICJ. The case followed false Russian accusations of genocide in Donbas which genocide scholars have described as accusation in a mirror as part of a campaign of genocide incitement. The court is conducting an investigation of all allegations of genocide in Ukraine.
In November 2022, Ukraine's Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said that during the course of five proceedings on genocide by law enforcement, investigators had recorded "more than 300 facts that belong precisely to the definition of genocide".
On 11 November 2019 The Gambia lodged an application to the ICJ against Myanmar. It alleged that Myanmar has committed mass murder, rape, and destruction of communities against the Rohingya group in Rakhine state since about October 2016 and that those actions violated the Genocide Convention. 
Main article: Outline of Genocide studies
A substantial majority of MPs — including most Liberals who participated — voted in favour of a Conservative motion that says China's actions in its western Xinjiang region meet the definition of genocide set out in the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention. ... The final tally was 266 in favour and zero opposed. Two MPs formally abstained.
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The Holocaust is commonly defined as the murder of more than 5,000,000 Jews by the Germans in World War II.
... estimated population for the year 1769 ... Nationwide by this time only about one-third of one percent of America's population—250,000 out of 76,000,000 people—were natives. The worst human holocaust the world had ever witnessed ... finally had leveled off. There was, at last, almost no one left to kill.