Our duty to prevent genocide | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 05, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:46 AM, December 05, 2017

Law News

Our duty to prevent genocide

The 9th of December is globally celebrated as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime. In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly established this International Day.

According to UN, the purpose of the Day is "to raise awareness of the Genocide Convention and its role in combating and preventing the crime of genocide, as defined in the Convention, and to commemorate and honour its victims."

In adopting the resolution, without a vote, the 193-member Assembly reiterated the responsibility of each individual State to protect its populations from genocide, which entails the prevention of such a crime, including incitement to it.

The 9th of December is also the anniversary of the adoption of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the "Genocide Convention"). The Genocide Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948. A total of 148 States (including one non-UN Member State) have ratified the Genocide Convention so far. Other 46 UN Member States are pending to do so. In 2018 it will be the 70th anniversary of the Genocide Convention. In lead up to this anniversary, the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect will launch a one year appeal for the universal ratification of the Convention by the end of 2018. The universal ratification would represent a major united commitment of the international community to the eradication of the crime of genocide.

The Genocide Convention (article 2) defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group … ", including:

Killing members of the group;

Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The Convention confirms that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or war, is a crime under international law which parties to the Convention undertake "to prevent and to punish" (article 1). The primary responsibility to prevent and stop genocide lies with the State.

Prevention of genocide and responsibility to protect the victims are two important pillars in dealing with the crime of genocide. To prevent genocide and genocidal conflicts, it is decisively important to understand their root causes. While conflict has many causes, genocidal conflict is identity-based. States require assistance from the international community in order to fulfill responsibility to protect. When States manifestly fail to protect their populations from international crimes, the international community must be ready to take action, collectively, in accordance with the United Nations Charter. Intervention only happens when prevention fails. Therefore, prevention is the basis of the principle of the responsibility to protect.

 

Compiled by Law Desk (SOURCE: UN.ORG). 

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