Developments in the law of genocide

Schabas, William A. ORCID: (2002) Developments in the law of genocide. Yearbook of international humanitarian law, 5 . pp. 131-165. ISSN 1389-1359 [Article] (doi:10.1017/S1389135900001069)


Probably more has happened in the past five years to the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide than in the previous 50, that is, in the half-century following its adoption by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948.
Indeed, for the first five decades of its existence, the Convention was largely ignored by lawyers, viewed by most of them — as Georg Schwar-zenberger famously remarked — to be ‘unnecessary when applicable and inapplicable when necessary’. Over the years there had been attempts to apply the ‘g-word’ to a wide range of atrocities and gross violations of human rights, including those of China in Tibet, of Iraq against the Kurds, of the United States in Vietnam as well as towards its African-American and aboriginal populations, of Pakistan in Bangladesh, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and Israel in Lebanon. But in each of these cases, some interpretative flair was required in order to stretch the definition to fit the crimes, and the efforts were not always very convincing. In 1990 scholars Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn wrote that ‘the wording of the Convention is so restrictive that not one of the genocidal killings committed since its adoption is covered by it’.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Law and Politics
ISI Impact: 1
Item ID: 7842
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Depositing User: Devika Mohan
Date Deposited: 02 May 2011 07:29
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2019 12:20

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