Genocide

genocide, in international law, the intentional and systematic destruction, wholly or in part, by a government of a national, racial, religious, or ethnic group. Although the term genocide was first coined in 1944, the crime itself has been committed often in history. It was initially used to describe the systematic campaign for the extermination of peoples carried on by Nazi Germany, in its attempts in the 1930s and 40s to destroy the entire European Jewish community, and to eliminate other national groups in Eastern Europe. In 1945, the charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal listed persecution on racial or religious grounds as a crime for which the victorious Allies would try Nazi offenders. It established the principle of the individual accountability of government officials who carried out the extermination policies. The United Nations, by a convention concluded in 1949, defined in detail the crime of genocide and provided for its punishment by competent national courts of the state on whose territory the crime was committed, or by international tribunal. Charging that the convention violated national sovereignty, especially in its provision for an international tribunal and in the potential liability of an individual citizen, the United States did not ratify it until 37 years later, in 1986. An international tribunal was established to prosecute genocide cases in the aftermath of the slaughter of more than 500,000 Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994. In 1995 top civilian and military Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat leaders were charged by an international tribunal with genocide in the killing of thousands of Muslims during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

See studies by I. L. Horowitz (1981), L. Kuper (1982), E. Staub (1989), S. Power (2001), and D. J. Goldhagen (2009).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Genocide: The Psychology of Mass Murder
Peter du Preez.
Boyars/Bowerdean, 1994
A Century of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts
Samuel Totten; William S. Parsons; Israel W. Charny.
Routledge, 2004 (2nd edition)
Genocide and the Politics of Memory: Studying Death to Preserve Life
Herbert Hirsch.
University of North Carolina Press, 1995
The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective
Robert Gellately; Ben Kieman.
Cambridge University Press, 2003
Annihilating Difference: The Anthropology of Genocide
Alexander Laban Hinton.
University of California Press, 2002
How to Prevent Genocide: A Guide for Policymakers, Scholars, and the Concerned Citizen
John G. Heidenrich.
Praeger, 2001
Protection against Genocide: Mission Impossible?
Neal Riemer.
Praeger, 2000
Genocide: Conceptual and Historical Dimensions
George J. Andreopoulos.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994
Genocide in International Law: The Crimes of Crimes
William A. Schabas.
Cambridge University Press, 2000
The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution
Henry Friedlander.
University of North Carolina Press, 1995
Genocide and Crisis in Central Africa: Conflict Roots, Mass Violence, and Regional War
Christian P. Scherrer.
Praeger, 2002
The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus
Vahakn N. Dadrian.
Berghahn Books, 1997 (3rd Rev. edition)
Genocide in Bosnia: The Policy of "Ethnic Cleansing"
Norman Cigar.
Texas A&M University Press, 1995
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