The Genocide Convention at Fifty.

Schabas, William A. ORCID logoORCID: (1999) The Genocide Convention at Fifty. Project Report. United States Institute of Peace. . [Monograph]


On September 2, 1998, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda issued its first conviction for genocide, condemning a Rwandan mayor, Jean-Paul Akayesu, for directing and inciting local mobs to the rape and murder of innocent Tutsi victims. The tribunal's companion, which deals with war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, is currently proceeding with its first indictment for genocide. In October 1998, a Spanish prosecutor sought the extradition of General Augusto Pinochet for charges of genocide. And Bosnia has challenged the International Court of Justice to construe the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in a pending case it has filed against Belgrade. Ethnic conflict and atrocities committed within civil wars have thrust genocide to center stage.

Genocide is defined in the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly fifty years ago, on December 9, 1948. For a time, it was the forgotten convention, drafted in the aftermath of the Holocaust but then relegated to obscurity as the human rights movement focused on more "modern" atrocities: apartheid, torture, disappearances. Events in Rwanda and Bosnia have rehabilitated the Convention, whose application and interpretation have become matters for urgent attention.

In the half-century since the convention's adoption, many of the difficult questions concerning genocide have remained unanswered. What groups are protected by the convention? Does it cover political, social and gender groups, as well as racial and ethnic groups? And just how are racial and ethnic groups defined, according to the precise legal requirements of criminal prosecutions? What are states required to do when genocide offenders are found on their territory? Does the obligation to prevent genocide include a duty to intervene, even militarily, if the crime is being committed?

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Additional Information: This report was prepared with the assistance of program officer John T. Crist.
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Law and Politics
Item ID: 7903
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Devika Mohan
Date Deposited: 19 May 2011 06:52
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2019 12:20

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.