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Genocide: A Useful Legal Category?

NCJ Number
International Criminal Justice Review Volume: 19 Issue: 2 Dated: June 2009 Pages: 115-131
John Quigley
Date Published
June 2009
17 pages
This article explores the utility of genocide as a vehicle for the prosecution of individual persons and legal action against a state.
The Genocide Convention is seen as potentially having greater significance as an instrument relating to wrongful acts of a state. Whereas in penal law alternative offenses are available, for genocide committed by a state there may be no other jurisdictional base if a state is to be brought to account. With international jurisdiction limited, genocide provides one of the few legal categories under which one state can gain jurisdiction over another that is committing genocide. Genocide may be of greater utility in the state-to-state context than in criminal prosecution. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defined genocide as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group: (1) killing members of the groups; (2) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the groups; (3) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (4) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and (5) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. This article addresses the various ways in which the genocide concept has played out in domestic and international practice. It begins with domestic prosecution, and then proceeds to legal action against states. References


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