Hitler was accused of this, even Saddam Hussein was hanged for the same, and this made Lemkin to combine two words from two different languages to evolve a new terminology. What is it, that when uttered turns the gooseflesh of an individual? Is this term worth so much effort and innovation that it has gobbled the minds of the globe’s most efficient organizations?
In the Age of Extremes, in a period when the World Wars were witnessed and there were a series of State sponsored murders; the mid-century scholars were groping for a new word to describe the gruesome events. In the meantime Lemkin evolved a new terminology “GENOCIDE” replacing the older one “Acts of Barbarity” by combining ‘genos’, (a Greek term used for family, tribe, race ) and ‘cide’ (from a Latin term occide which meant to massacre).
Genocide is one of the worst crimes a government can commit against its citizens. Genocide was a new terminology but the act wasn’t new. Ben Kierman, A Yale Scholar labeled the destruction of Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War (149-146 B.C) as the “First Genocide”. This signifies that the barbaric acts have been a part of the society since ages. The most recent massacre is the Burma-Myanmar incident in the 21st century. But there is one common aspect in both the above incidents, i.e. Greed. It’s quite strange that in an era when the whole world is striving for brotherhood, some groups are on a mission to end the civilization.
In the wake of the Holocaust, Lemkin successfully campaigned for the universal acceptance of international laws defining and forbidding genocide. This was achieved in 1948, with the promulgation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG).
The CPPCG was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 9th December 1948 and came into effect on 12th January 1951 [Resolution 260 (III)]. It contains an internationally-recognized definition of genocide which was incorporated into the national criminal legislation of many countries, and was also adopted by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Convention (in Article II) 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, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
But despite having an International Treaty since sixty long years, we are still facing the problem of genocide which is getting worse with the passage of time. Thus leaving a trail of questions in our mind like if we have a Genocide Convention, why genocide still exists? What can individuals and nations do to prevent genocide?
ROOTS OF THE MAYHEM
At times brains gobble pertaining to the origin of the bloody form of holocaust, which is GENOCIDE. But have we ever tried to analyze within our so-called intelligent brains that where from this word genocide crept into our society? Is this a result of day to day increasing greed for power and position of some mischievous brains or it popped up suddenly on one fine day out of no where? Very much obvious the later reason can be completely gain said. If we recapitulate the past we can surely get our answers that how this form of mayhem actually evolved. There has been considerable research on why a perpetrator would want to destroy a group or, if not destroy the group as such, murder people because of their group membership. Motives are often complex and intertwined, but one can usually pull out among the mix a major motive
Genocide has been there in society since times immemorial. There are numerous incidents which knock the memory from time to time like the Nuremberg Trials, the Bosnian Genocide, Rwanda and the Darfur massacres. Even the Old Testaments have references of it in the genocide of Amelekites and Midianites.
But have we ever tried to analyze why genocide occurs? The answer is straight, only a few intellectual minds on the globe analyzed the reasons. Some intellectual brains have evolved by the very meaning of genocide i.e. killing based on race, group or nationality, that one of the main causes of genocide is the RACIAL PREJUDICE. The U.S.A has witnessed the fiery Holocaust in the early nineties. Holocaust expert David Cesarani argued that the government and policies of U.S.A against certain indigenous people constituted Genocide in the Western Hemisphere. Even the Jews were subjected to Hitler’s barbaric acts, the Kurds of Iraq faced the same from the then Dictator.
The racial prejudice is much influenced by the legalized racial segregation in the past. Racial segregation used to be characterized by separation of different races in daily life, such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a rest room, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home. Segregation may be mandated by law or exist through social norms. Segregation may be maintained by means ranging from discrimination in hiring and in the rental and sale of housing to certain races to vigilante violence such as lynching; a situation that arises when members of different races mutually prefer to associate and do business with members of their own race would usually be described as separation or de facto separation of the races rather than segregation. Legal segregation in both South Africa and the U.S. was required and came with “anti-miscegenation laws” (prohibitions against interracial marriage) and laws against hiring people of the race that is the object of discrimination in any but menial positions.
Segregation in hiring practices contributes to economic imbalance between the races. Segregation, however, often allowed close contact in hierarchical situations, such as allowing a person of one race to work as a servant for a member of another race. Segregation can involve spatial separation of the races, and/or mandatory use of different institutions, such as schools and hospitals by people of different races.
Another main cause of the mayhem is the Use of propaganda and mass media. With the technological advances in communication in 21st century unprecedented levels of education have become possible. However, rather than pursuing cooperative and egalitarian world views, ethnic nationalism has continually plagued the societies. I believe that the horrid level of violence in our world is perpetuated because ethnic nationalism has been used by the elite to incite racist violent malice. I believe that this division of humanity through equating specific historical events caused by the ruling elite with the decisions or personal responsibility of vast groups of people to be the primary vehicle governments has used to justify violence. The violence that occurred in 21st century has coincided with governmental use of propaganda. In every atrocity committed by large populations we have seen unilateral control of media used to dehumanize the persecuted and disenfranchised through appeals to ethnic nationalism.
Being a part of 21st century, when there have been several laws incorporated in various domestic laws against every kind of discrimination and racial attacks, is it feasible to consider the racial prejudice the only cause of genocide? The answer would a blunt “NO”.
In the era where there have been governments with strong laws enforced by the States all over the globe, how can racist group commit such a heinous act? The answer is quite relative; that no clan can commit such an act fearlessly unless it is state sponsored or rather say state approved. The infamous Darfur incident is more or less state sponsored. The humanitarian situation is worse than is still generally appreciated, due to ongoing state sponsored violence, layer of aid obstruction, lack of overall humanitarian strategic plan and weakened sate of displaced Sudanese.
The consistent denial of Indonesian Government of any genocidal activity despite missing of about 4 million West Papuans signifies the State sponsored mayhem. These acts, where the state plays a role quite gives an evidence that Genocide denial is normally conducted by those either committing or profiting from the genocide like that of Indonesia and its business partners. The Holocaust is the object of large-scale denial efforts (think about all the publications and money poured into the productions of the negationists). The Holocaust has become a near-universal cultural code for evil in the world, in the last half-century. This has made its denial attractive to a variety of groups who have no historical connection to the events.
Another incident of the state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, whose epicenter is Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad’s Iran, where the toxic advocacy of the most horrific of crimes is embedded in the most virulent of hatreds, the 1970 parliamentary elections in Pakistan that showed the political power of East Pakistan and threatened the control over it by West Pakistan, and the power of the military government. They thus militarily seized East Pakistan and murdered over a million Bengali leaders, intellectuals, professionals, and any Hindus that the military were able to capture, the strong resistance of the Ukrainian farmer to Stalin’s program of collectivization in 1931-32 coupled with the threat of Ukrainian nationalism to communist control. So, when what would have been a mild famine hit the region in 1932, Stalin magnified the famine many fold by seizing their food and its sources (livestock, pets, seed grain, shooting birds in the trees, etc.) and boycotting the import of food to Ukraine. Even visitors to Ukraine were searched and food taken away from them before they entered the Soviet Republic. About 5 million Ukrainians were starved to death.
And the case, when the Rwandan Hutu majority government undertook to murder all Tutsi within their reach at the time when there was turmoil resulting from a major 1991 incursion of the Tutsi expatriate Rwandan Patriotic Front in the northern part of the country, thus providing substantial explanation where it can be said that the major cause of genocide in the 21st century is the state itself motive being, to destroy a group that is perceived as a threat to the ruling power. Genocide is a word that stirs up the deepest emotion, an uncanny chill that makes one realize how inhumane humanity can sometimes be.
LEGALITY PERTAINING TO GENOCIDE
Mass slaughter of human beings by other human beings has been a recurrent phenomenon over the centuries. But until recently neither governments nor international legal specialists had sought to devise formal rules and institutions that could help prevent, or if necessary punish, the perpetrators of large-scale atrocities. The legal application of the term genocide first occurred in the indictment of the Nazi war criminals in the 1945-1946 Nuremberg Tribunal. They were indicted for “War Crimes” (Count Three), which included the “deliberate and systematic genocide; viz., the extermination of racial and national groups, against the civilian population of certain occupied territories in order to destroy particular races and classes of people, and national, racial, or religious groups, particularly Jews, Poles, and Gypsies.” Following the UN resolution of genocide, the question of an international genocide convention was referred to the UN Economic and Social Council. Their debate and deliberation ended in the 1948 UNCG, which came into force in 1951, and since then has been ratified by 133 states.
From the commencement of World War-I till 1938 common mass weren’t much aware of the new form of holocaust except those who actually experienced it i.e., the Armenians. Reason being they had little influence on the international legal arena. The League of Nations was formed but failed being a mere puppet at the hands of the Allied powers. Few other like Hague Agreement to confine aerial bombing to military targets, Geneva Protocols against use of poisonous gas, initiative to prosecute Heads of State (Germany, Turkey) for war crimes, etc were formed as well though majority of them failed to suffice the need of the hour.
But during the World War-II the world became cognizant of the deadly term “GENOCIDE.” As a result of which War Crimes Tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo, Nuremberg Charter recognized as customary international law; Genocide Convention, etc were established.
In December 1946 the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution denouncing genocide as “the denial of the right of existence of entire human groups” and describing it as, “contrary to moral law and to the spirit and aims of the United Nations.” The resolution also set up a committee to draft an international treaty that would formally outlaw genocide. The result, after protracted and often arduous negotiations, was the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was approved by the UN General Assembly on a 55-to-0 vote in December 1948. The Genocide Convention was slated to enter into force after twenty of the fifty-five UN member-states that voted in favor of it submitted their formal instruments of ratification. Although some signatories of the convention, notably the United States, took many years before they ratified it, ratification by the twentieth country was completed in October 1950, allowing the convention to take effect in January 1951. Since then the Genocide Convention is considered as the most applicable instrument to fight the future Holocausts.
From the time Lemkin’s book appeared, the term genocide has stirred controversy both in the public arena and among scholars. Lawyers, scholars, and political leaders have differed over the scope and nature of the crimes involved. Some, like Lemkin, have sought as broad a definition as possible, not limiting it to large-scale killing. Others, including many prominent historians and political scientists, have advocated a more restrictive definition, focusing on clear-cut cases of mass slaughter and attempts at systematic extermination. Still others have questioned whether genocide necessarily requires the targeting of a specific cultural, ethnic, racial, or linguistic group.
By excluding many of the worst abuses and crimes of the twentieth century, the requirement of a targeted cultural or ethnic group has arguably been the most controversial aspect of the concept of genocide. The very definition of the Genocide provided in Article 2 of the Convention has been subject to much discussion by the international legal personnels. The phrase “in whole or in part” has been subject to much discussion by scholars of international humanitarian law.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia found in Prosecutor v. Radislav Krstic – Trial Chamber I – Judgment – IT-98-33 (2001) ICTY8 (2 August 2001) that Genocide had been committed. In Prosecutor v. Radislav Krstic – Appeals Chamber – Judgment – IT-98-33 (2004) ICTY 7 (19 April 2004) paragraphs 8, 9, 10, and 11 addressed the issue of in part and found that “the part must be a substantial part of that group. The aim of the Genocide Convention is to prevent the intentional destruction of entire human groups, and the part targeted must be significant enough to have an impact on the group as a whole.” The Appeals Chamber goes into details of other cases and the opinions of respected commentators on the Genocide Convention to explain how they came to this conclusion.
GENOCIDE CONVENTION- THE PRESENT STAND
The barbaric acts in the past, forced the authorities to come up with a neutral legislation which would empower the law enforcers to curb the mayhem i.e. Genocide. After much efforts the eminent authorities came up with the Genocide Convention which was enforced post World War II in 1951. The convention was the first modern human rights treaty, adopted only a day earlier than the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which set the common standards of achievement for human civilization. But the main question is, whether the convention has been able to suffice the motive?
Since the treaty has been enforced there have been numerous genocidal incidents like the massacre of the Cambodians, the mayhem on Bosnian Muslims, the Holocaust on the Tutsis in Rwanda, the infamous Bangladesh war, most lately the Burma-Myanmar incident and many other unnoticed incidents. So how would we rate the efficiency of the treaty enforcers?
Definitions of the crime of Genocide, such as those found within the body of international law or as interpreted within the pages of law journals, tend to emphasize a legal framework of mind.
Therefore have unique aims that other members of the academic community would not necessarily prioritize.
The main purpose of such a law, as in all other laws, was to present a practical tool for punishing those that have transgressed a codified set of rules, which in turn is based on a moral imperative agreed upon by members of a society. But such laws also need to be applied fairly. In consequence, a legal definition of Genocide must abide by the spirit of the moral law it purports to represent, but must also be necessarily restrictive in such a fashion that its implementation satisfies the basic requirements of fairness and justice.
The Genocide Convention then aims to present a set of non-negotiable rules by which a strict threshold of guilt must be met in order to punish the accused. And this dichotomy results in a closed and restricted definition of Genocide. This scientific approach has a purpose of creating a regulatory and formal environment for judging guilt.
It so happens that most member states of the United Nations are signatories of the Genocide Convention, more precisely named the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. By signing and ratifying the Genocide Convention, these governments have assumed a legal obligation (not just some vague moral obligation) both to prevent genocide and to punish perpetrators of genocide. The convention continues to fail is in its task of preventing genocide on a large scale. Although the duty is set out in the convention, opinions differ about just how far it may extend. Put bluntly, are states required, as a legal obligation, to take action up to and including military intervention in order to prevent the crime from occurring?
The outrage over Iran’s hosting of a Holocaust denial conference has tended to overshadow what should be a greater outrage: Iran’s state-sanctioned incitement to commit genocide. Simply put, the denial of genocide became a media event, but incitement to genocide in violation of the prohibition against the “direct and public incitement to commit genocide” in the Genocide Convention, the “never again” convention, was greeted with a yawn.
Is this what we would call the stand of the Genocide Convention even after sixty years of its establishment? The convention though neutrally framed for the world yet has turned into a pet of selected few. The humanitarian situation is worse than is still generally appreciated. In practice, the Genocide Convention has been pretty much a dead letter (as the world’s current response to Darfur illustrates all too well). There have been few occasions when outside intervention interrupted large-scale mass murder while it was still happening. But in virtually all those cases, and in all the cases that involved serious military conflict, this was a side-effect of military interventions carried out for other strategic or political purposes.
Furthermore, the record of the so-called “international community” in bringing mass murderers to justice has not been very inspiring. Sometimes real politics plays a role here. In the case of Cambodia, even after the Khmer Rouge were dislodged from most of Cambodia by the Vietnamese they continued to get recognition and support for years from the US and China, as well as sanctuary across the border in Thailand. They were also allowed to keep control of Cambodia’s UN seat until 1993. All of which were unforgivable, but not astonishing. Within Cambodia, the new rulers installed by the Vietnamese, who are still running the country, were ex-Khmer Rouge themselves, and this may partly explain why they have showed little enthusiasm for trials that would revisit old times. Apart from that the holocaust in Burma-Myanmar has been barely subjected to any kind of trial. Decades after the Cambodian bloodbath, the mass murderers are still at loose. The assassination of Saddam Hussein and the U.S.A army taking over Iraq seemed more or less a part of a longing profitable business.
There have been similar incidents in India too where no international community has taken a firm step against it. The infamous Nandigram, India incident in short has just been left stranded to be a ball in the media’s court. The long discussion regarding the Kashmir issue has been a mere issue which is only used for hype and publicity. Geneva Convention is not at all respected in the Kashmir Valley. There are umpteen numbers of human rights violation cases recorded. Muslims killing Kashmiri Pundits is one aspect. Indian Security Forces have scant regard for humanitarian law. The do not stick to the norms laid down by the Geneva Convention in dealing with the prisoners of war. Only in Doda in the year 1994 two hundred women were raped. Rape continues to be a major instrument of Indian repression against the Kashmiri people while the majority of casualties in Kashmir are civilians. A total of 72,077, representing nearly 98 per cent of the Pundit population, were driven out of Kashmir due to ethnic cleansing. 9,309 homes have been burned down along with 1,659 small businesses. The sad part is that the Kashmir issue gets so wrapped up in global concerns on one side and obfuscated by massive state-sponsored propaganda on the other that so few people know about the tragic state of Kashmiri Pundits.
What happened in Gujarat was not a spontaneous uprising; it was a carefully orchestrated attack against Muslims. The Godhra, Gujarat massacre in India has been just news and a mere matter to express the grief of the so-called “international community” leaving thousands of Indian Muslims dead and helpless. Aren’t these the acts of Genocide? Where is the Genocide Convention playing a role to achieve its goal of curbing the heinous act of genocide worldwide?
The crime of genocide in domestic law and the domestic prosecution of persons committing genocide are subjects of international significance. Correspondingly, the failure of nations to enact laws against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are matters of international concern. For example, in April 1999, a Swiss court threw out the charge of genocide in the trial of Rwandan mayor, Fulgence Niyonteze, because the crime of genocide was not at that time a part of Swiss law. Many countries have more effective laws for air piracy (hijacking) than for genocide.
The failure of countries to prosecute or extradite perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes has become a matter of tremendous international interest since the October 1998 arrest of former Chilean dictator Pinochet in the United Kingdom on Spanish charges of torture and genocide. Pinochet was released in March 2000 and allowed to return to Chile, but his case has become a crucial turning point in the effort to bring an end to impunity for torture, genocide and other international crimes.
The Security Council is entitled to intervene, or to authorize intervention in order to prevent persecution of ethnic minorities. Since the end of the Cold War, the Security Council cannot be seriously questioned regarding the same. Here we can somewhat say that the starting point was Resolution 688, authorizing the use of force against Iraq in order to protect the Kurdish minority from atrocities. Though late but there have been attempts to save the Burma-Myanmar Genocide victims. But the issue is not whether the international community may intervene but rather whether it must intervene when a group protected by the Genocide Convention is threatened with extermination.
Its better late then never, the anguish within the international community as the reaction to the genocide victims and its deliberate and honest efforts implies that there will be prompt action to prevent a future genocide.
The failure to prevent past genocides caused UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to lament as follows on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide in 2004: “We must never forget our collective failure to protect at least 800,000 defenseless men, women and children who perished in Rwanda 10 years ago. Such crimes cannot be reversed. Such failures cannot be repaired. The dead cannot be brought back to life. So, what can we do?”
The answer is for the international community to pay heed to the early warnings of genocide – and incitement has been demonstrated to be a predictor of the genocide to come – and to act now, as mandated under the Genocide Convention, to prevent this clear and present danger, not only to Israel and the Jewish people, but to international peace and security.
The international community needs to review on few matters regarding the weakened application of the Genocide Convention. There should be serious amendments in the meaning of genocide stated under Article II of the convention in order to broaden its scope. With the passage of time the technology is racing in full throttle so is the criminal minds. The holocaust is not at all restricted but growing along with technology which has given rise to new terminology such as democide, populicide, politicide, etc.
The law and politics of genocide stagnated for several decades following the adoption of the convention in 1948. The thinking and writing about its scope since 1948 have been meager and sometimes superficial, with a few notable exceptions. When the horrors of ethnic conflict became the scourge of the last decade of the millennium, the convention was, so to speak, hauled off the shelf and dusted off. Unlike other human rights treaties, there has been no “treaty body” or committee charged with ensuring the Genocide Convention’s implementation and helping to define its content.
Despite being a member of the treaty, the member states treat the Convention like a dead- letter. What is really required is a formal recognition of the duty to intervene to prevent genocide. That would require serious amendments of the Genocide Convention through the UN and a serious enforcement of the same in the state laws individually. Whatever the means is, if the message is clear it will be taken as authoritative interpretation of the convention’s obligation to prevent genocide. Political scientist R. J. Rummel described the concept of Democide not with an intention that the world would be cognizant of the term but to alert the international community of the fast growth and broadening ambit of the Holocaust.
Genocide have tended to wholly equate it with the murder and only the murder by government of people due to their national, ethnical, racial or religious (or, what is called indelible) group membership. This way of viewing genocide has become so ingrained that it seems utterly false to say. The crime leaders have invented new ways to suffice their lust for hue and cry.
A human being is complete when he has his body and soul together, if one of them dies the existence of a human is completely worthless. The presence of soul and conscience makes a person different from an animal. Isn’t the continuous growth of rape victims, compelling the downtrodden to commit suicide (the increasing rate of rapes through out the world, the suicide of Indian farmers) by the corrupt officials and the government burying their heads in the sand instead of solving the problem, commit mass-murder impliedly? The convention needs to be more focused on the new genre of mayhem with the appointment of innovative monitoring staff to keep a prompt eye on occurrence world wide. In an era of globalization, the United States alone cannot exert effective pressure on the government of a despotic nation without multilateral cooperation. The international effort to combat tyranny worldwide lies solely in words, not actions, as evidenced by the refusal of rest of the world nations to take a strong stand against the Government indulged in genocidal activities. From classification to organization, preparation through extermination, genocide is something that the whole world has witnessed. Stopping genocide during its first six stages is more logical than attempting to stop it during its seventh stage, extermination. As a global community it is our job to learn these steps, so when the phases of genocide begin we can prevent them from progressing and save millions of lives.
Genocide is first and foremost a crime (and only secondarily a historical event or sociological process). Therefore a judgment as to whether a specific act is an act of genocide should eventually be made by a court having jurisdiction over the crime. When a crime is ongoing (or when the perpetrators are likely to repeat the offense) of special urgency is the duty of governmental authorities to enforce the law by acting to halt or suppress the crime. In such cases enforcing the law means protecting potential victims and apprehending suspected perpetrators.
War isn’t this century’s biggest killer. It’s the human being themselves who are the killers as turning there heads away from their responsibility to stand as one against the crime of genocide. Once the common mass starts raising their voice against the crime no body would dare to commit such heinous crime in future.