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A rule of conduct or procedure established by custom, agreement, or authority. The body of rules and principles governing the affairs of a community and enforced by a political authority; a legal system: international law. The condition of social order and justice created by adherence to such a system: a breakdown of law and civilized behavior. A set of rules or principles dealing with a specific area of a legal system: tax law; criminal law. A piece of enacted legislation. What is Law?


Genocide is a type of atrocity in general use referring to the deliberate
and systematic destruction of an ethnic, cultural or political group. The
term was coined by Polish Jew Raphael Lemkin in 1944 from the roots genos
(Greek for tribe or race) and -cide (Latin for killing). Lemkin campaigned
for the international outlawing of genocide, which was achieved in 1951.

Definition of Genocide

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was
adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1948 and came into effect in
January 1951. 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 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, 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.

The first draft of the Convention included political killings but that
language was removed at the insistence of the Soviet Union. The exclusion of
social and political groups as targets of genocide in this legal definition
has been criticized. In common usage of the word, these target groups are
often included.

Common usage also sometimes equates genocide with state-sponsored mass
murder, but genocide, as defined above, does not imply mass-murder (or any
murder) nor is every instance of mass-murder necessarily genocide. Neither
is the involvement of a government required. The word 'genocide' is also
sometimes used in a much broader sense, as in "slavery was genocide", but
this usage diverges from the legal definition set by the UN.

International law

All signatories to the above mentioned convention are required to prevent
and punish acts of genocide, both in peace and wartime, though some barriers
make this enforcement difficult. Genocide is dealt with as an international
matter, by the UN, and can never be treated as an internal affair of a
country. Some legal opinion holds that; as well as being illegal under
conventional international law, genocide is a crime under customary
international law as well, and has been since some time during World War II
or possibly earlier. Acts of genocide are generally difficult to establish,
for prosecution, since intent, demonstrating a chain of accountability, has
to be established.

Related concepts

Genocide is also called a crime against humanity, though the initial
"definition" of that concept; established during the Nuremberg trials, was
restricted to acts committed during wartime or directed against the peace
and would therefore not have included all acts of genocide. As mentioned
above, state-sponsored mass murder is sometimes equated with genocide.
Democide has been suggested as a more precise term for this, but it is
rarely used. Genocide is a common term referring to deliberate policies
promoting mass killing. The term genocide also generally carries an ethnic
connotation, though the delineation of ethnic groups is easier to frame as
simply 'foreign' to the culprit party.

Cultural genocide refers to the deliberate destruction of a culture, without
necessarily attaining to the full criteria of genocide. This term has been
criticized as inflammatory; trying to reap political benefit from the
accusation of genocide, as issues dealing with genocide are serious and

Some alleged genocides in history

(Presented in approximate chronological order)

Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229) in France can be considered as a case of

North America

     Genocide of Powhatans by London Virginia Company 1610 - 1622
     Lord Jeffrey Amherst approved spreading smallpox among Native Americans
     intentionally during the Pontiac's Rebellion by distributing infected
     Indian Removal resulted in the death of many thousands of Native
     See Indian Massacres, Trail of Tears, Extermination of the Pequots in

The Congo

     Genocide in the Congo, prior to its being taken over by Belgium to form
     the Belgian Congo
     Under the rule of King Leopold II, the Congo Free State suffered a
     great loss of life due to criminal indifference to its native
     inhabitants in the pursuit of increased rubber production.

     Exploitation of the Dutch East Indies, French Indochina, German
     Southwest Africa, Rhodesia, and South Africa paled in comparison to
     that in what later became the Belgian Congo. The most infamous example
     of this is the Congo Free State.

     King Leopold II (of Belgium) was a famed philanthropist, abolitionist,
     and self-appointed sovereign of the Congo Free State, 76 times larger
     geographically than Belgium itself.

     His fortunes, and those of the multinational concessionary companies
     under his auspices, were mainly made on the proceeds of Congolese
     rubber, which had historically never been mass-produced in surplus

     Between 1880 and 1920 the population of the Congo halved; over 10
     million "indolent natives" unaccustomed to the bourgeois ethos of labor
     productivity, were the victims of murder, starvation, exhaustion
     induced by over-work, and disease.

     Mass-murder or genocide in the Congo Free State became a cause celbre
     in the last years of the 19th century, and a great embarrassment to not
     only the King but also to Belgium, which had portrayed itself as
     progressive and attentive to human rights.

   * Belgium exhumes its colonial demons


     Tasmania's Aboriginal population was almost entirely wiped out in the
     19th century. At least some died at the hands of settlers, many died
     from disease inadvertantly introduced by those settlers, and internal
     conflicts also occurred. The relative effects of those and other
     factors is a subject of strong historical and political debate,
     including whether they constituted genocide.

     Some have argued that the removal of Aboriginal children from their
     families by the Australian government constituted genocide. See Stolen


     Genocide in the Highland Clearances: The Highland Clearances can be
     traced to the consequences of the failure of the Jacobite rebellion in
     the 18th Century. The revenge of the English dealt a huge blow to the
     culture of the Highland people and the traditional Clan system in the
     Highlands of Scotland subsequently broke up. After the Battle of
     Culloden in 1746 the chiefs were impoverished, the language of the
     people (Gaelic) was proscribed and the wearing of tartan was forbidden.
     From about 1792, estate landlords, some absentee, in partnership with
     impoverished ex-clan chiefs, 'encouraged', sometimes forcibly, the
     population to move off the land, which was then given over to sheep
     farming. The people were accommodated in poor crofts or small farms in
     coastal areas where the farming or fishing could not sustain the
     communities, or directly put on emigration ships. Together with a
     failure of the potato crop in the 19th Century, this policy resulted in
     starvation, deaths, and a secondary clearance, when Scots either
     migrated voluntarily or were forcibly evicted, many to emigrate, to
     join the British army, or to join the growing cities, like Glasgow,
     Edinburgh and Dundee, in Lowland Scotland. In many areas there were
     small and large scale massacres and violence towards the indigenous

     As in the Australian example above, there are conflicting views about
     whether the process of change was genocide: there were social and
     historical factors at work, including the onset of industrialisation,
     development of a rational approach to economics, and moves to larger
     scale agriculture. The Clearances could be argued to be an inevitable
     collision between the economics of "improved" land use and an almost
     feudal way of life led by Gaels who did not, for the most part, speak

     Other people feel that what developed does meet the central definition
     of genocide (see Eric Richard The Highland Clearances Barlinn Books
     (2000), for an acknowledgement of both sides of this argument),
     involving the calculated destruction for economic as well as political
     reasons of groups leading a way of life which no longer "fitted in".

     Highlanders were also seen as a threat to the established British
     Government, and there was already alarm about the French Revolution. In
     the context of centuries of resistance and intermittent intrusion from
     Scotland, some feel this was a further impetus to destroy the
     traditional way of life and to suppress any resistance to the changes
     that were taking place.

German genocide in Southwest Africa (1904 - 1907)

     In 1985, the United Nation's Whitaker Report recognized the German
     attempt to exterminate the Herero and Nama peoples of Southwest Africa
     as one of the earliest attempts at genocide in the twentieth century.
     In total, some 65,000 Herero (80 percent of the total Herero
     population), and 10,000 Nama (50 percent of the total Nama population)
     were killed or perished. Characteristic of this genocide was death by
     starvation and the poisoning of wells for the Herero and Nama
     populations that were trapped in the Namib desert. The responsible
     German general was Lothar von Trotha

     Many historians have stressed the the historic importance of these
     atrocities, tracing the evolution from Kaiser Wilhelm II to Hitler,
     from Southwest Africa to Auschwitz.

   * Germany Refuses to Apologize for Herero Holocaust
   * Gesellschaft fr bedrohte Vlker - Der Vlkermord an den Herero

Armenian (1915-1923) genocide by the Young Turk government

     Approximately 0.6-1.5 millions Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were
     killed. The Turkish government officially denies that there was any
     genocide, claiming that most of the Armenian deaths resulted from armed
     conflict, disease and famine during the turmoil of World War.
     See also: Armenian Genocide

Soviet Union

     Ukrainians - Claims of 5 million civilians starved to death for
     refusing to cooperate with "collective farming" rules.
     Some argue that genocide took the form of man-made famines in 1932-33,
     particularly in Ukraine. Collectivization led to a drop in the already
     low productivity of Russian farming, which did not regain the NEP level
     until 1940, or allowing for the further disasters of World War II,
     1950. These statistics, and the actual existence of these famines is
     debated though. Some argue that the famines were generally a hoax. That
     collectivization was not responsible for millions of deaths and the
     actual number of people who died of starvation was much lower and due
     to other causes. The 1932 dust bowl crisis which occurred not only in
     the USA, but also in India and the USSR, is commonly cited as one

Polish minority in Soviet Union,Crimean Tatars, Don Cossacks, Chechens,
Volga Germans, Kalmyks, Meskhetians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians,
Orthodox priests

     Some have claimed that Stalin was planning a purge of elite Jews
     following the so-called "Doctor's Plot". These claims, though well
     publicized, have never been proven.

     Note: Many historians dismiss reports of Soviet genocide, as in
     Ukraine, as anti-soviet propaganda. Some historians have argued that
     the millions of civilian killings done by the Soviet government should
     not be called "genocide" since the motivation for the murders is
     outside of the legal definition of genocide. No ethnic groups or
     classes, they argue, were targeted in particular. Sometimes the term
     politicide is instead used to describe targeted Soviet killings of
     particular ideological and political groups.

Japanese genocide before and during World War II (1920s-1945).

     Nanjing Massacre: Some authorities claimed 300,000 people killed during
     the three months following the fall of Nanjing to the Japanese.
     Genocide targeted at Chinese at other places of China: Manchuria, the
     Wan Bao Hill Incident, Xiangyang.

     Unit 731 conducted biological and chemical warfare experiments on
     living humans

     Smaller scale Genocide also targeted at Koreans, Filipinos, Dutch,
     Vietnamese, Indonesians and Burmese.

Nazi genocide before and during World War II (1933-1945).

     Holocaust: approximately 11 million people killed, of which 6 million
     were Jews.
     Genocide also targeted at Gypsies (see Porajmos) and Slavs.
     Approximately 21 million Soviets, among them 7 million civilians, were
     killed in "Operation Barbarossa", the invasion of the Soviet Union.
     Civilians were rounded up and burned or shot in many cities conquered
     by the Nazis. Since the Slavs were considered "sub-human", this was
     ethnically targeted mass murder.
     Nazis also killed other groups, such as those suffering from birth
     defects, mental retardation or insanity; homosexuals, prostitutes and
     communists, as part of a wider mass murder.

People's Republic of China

     Some political groups, such as the Free Tibet movement, have claimed
     that the government of the People's Republic of China has committed
     genocide by killing members of several minority ethnic groups,
     including Uighurs, Tibetans and others during the Great Leap Forward
     and the Cultural Revolution. Most scholars argue that this is not a
     case of genocide but simple famine, because while minority ethnic
     groups died, so did members of the majority Han Chinese, and at no time
     has the PRC government undertaken policies specifically to kill
     minority groups. Famine has been a cyclical, reoccurring phenonmenon in
     Chinese history for thousands of years.

     China states that these charges help to indoctrinate impressionable
     youths in the Free Tibet movement and other groups with anti-China


     In 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor with the quiet approval of the
     USA, and its subjugation of that nation involved the deaths of
     thousands of civilians which has been estimated to be, in proportionate
     numbers, worse than the killings committed by the contemporary Khmer
     Rouge Regime in Cambodia.

Cambodia (1975-1979)

     Murdered between 900,000 and 2 million of its civilians after the
     Vietnam War.
     Pol Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge, murdered many other groups as part
     of a wider campaign of mass murder, such as intellectuals and
     professionals. Some people view the Western democracies and Communist
     China as complicit in the encouragemnt and support of the Khmer Rouge.
     Groups that were target of genocide during Pol Pot's rule:

   * Chinese (200 thousands)
   * Vietnamese (150 thousands)
   * Buddhist monks (40-60 thousands)
   * Thai (12 thousands)

Sudan (1983)

     The US government's Sudan Peace Act of October 21, 2002 accused Sudan
     of genocide for killing more than 2 million civilians in the south
     during an ongoing civil war since 1983.


     In 1988, Saddam Hussein's forces allegedly used Sarin to kill the
     population of a Kurd village. Some analysts, however, insist this
     atrocity was committed by Iran.

Bosnia (1992-1995)

     Organized ethnic cleansing carried out by Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks
     (Muslims) throughout the period.
     More than 7,000 Muslim men and boys were massacred in Srebrenica in
     July 1995. See also History of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Rwanda (April 1994)

     Roughly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutus. See
     History of Rwanda.

Gujarat (February-March 2002)

     About 800 or more than 2000 people (views differ on the numbers of
     victims), mostly Muslims, were killed throughout Gujarat, a state in
     India, during the 2002 Gujarat pogrom. This is considered by some
     people to satisfy the international legal definition of genocide, with
     the Sangh Parivar considered responsible for the systematic nature of
     the killings, while others consider the killings to have been
     spontaneous and uncontrolled.
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