Saturday, February 26, 2005

Genocide? A pleasant topic for the weekend

Just wondering: How many dead bodies are requisite to certify an operation as genocide?

The number of Iraqi civilians killed so far may just amount to that, no?

According to the UN, Genocide is defined as such:

The term was coined in 1943 by the Jewish-Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin who combined the Greek word "genos" (race or tribe) with the Latin word "cide" (to kill).

After witnessing the horrors of the Holocaust - in which every member of his family except his brother and himself was killed - Dr Lemkin campaigned to have genocide recognised as a crime under international law.

Genocide is... both the gravest and greatest of the crimes against humanity

Alain Destexhe
His efforts gave way to the adoption of the UN Convention on Genocide in December 1948, which came into effect in January 1951.

Article Two of the convention defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

  • 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 also imposes a general duty on states that are signatories to "prevent and to punish" genocide.

Ever since its adoption, the UN treaty has come under fire from different sides, mostly by people frustrated with the difficulty of applying it to different cases.

Here are few links to help us decide:

Link 1: The Web Genocide Documentation Centre
Link 2: Genocide Watch
Link 3: Prevent Genocide International


Ryan M Scott said...

We are not killing those people to eliminate them as a race. Any civilian that is dying is collateral damage or posed a perceived threat to our forces. It's as simple that. It's not genocide. It just also happens that much of the fighting takes place in an urban setting as well.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ryan,

Does the fact that it is intentional or not make it all the more excusable?

MoxieGrrrl said...

windspike - you bring up an incredible topic. It would really be interesting to discuss this further.

PS: hope this comment goes through this time ;)

Kevin said...

Like with the subject of torture, if the war was genocide, wouldn't the Bush administration find a way to justify it? And wouldn't the public be captured by their ideology?