The “odious scourge”: evolving interpretations of the crime of genocide.

Schabas, William A. ORCID logoORCID: (2006) The “odious scourge”: evolving interpretations of the crime of genocide. Genocide Studies and Prevention, 1 (2) . pp. 93-106. ISSN 1911-0359 [Article] (doi:10.3138/N485-G825-6747-MT40)


The crime of genocide was defined in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in reaction to the concept of crimes against humanity developed at Nuremberg, which insisted upon a connection with aggressive war in prosecutions for atrocity crimes. The convention stated genocide could be committed in time of peace, but it also narrowed the scope of the crime itself to the intentional destruction of a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. Cultural genocide was intentionally excluded. Although the text of the definition remains unchanged, judicial interpretation has broadened it significantly. Recent decisions have held that there is no requirement of a state plan or policy. They have also set out a subjective approach to identification of the protected group. Although cultural genocide in an extensive sense is still not recognized within the definition, there is a definite tendency to extend the concept to what is colloquially called “ethnic cleansing.” These broadening definitions influence determinations about genocides, even those committed many years ago.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Law and Politics
Item ID: 7708
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Depositing User: Devika Mohan
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2011 05:31
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2019 12:20

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