Bojan Pepić: Political Groups and the Genocide Convention

Why Political Groups Aren’t Protected Under the Genocide Convention – The Soviet Influence

Human Rights and Liberty Blog

Why political groups aren’t protected under the Genocide Convention?

TheConvention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide(Genocide Convention) wasadopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 9 December 1948. It signified the international community’s commitment to never let the atrocities committed during the Second World War happen again.

According to the Genocide Convention, genocide is a crime that can take place both in time of war as well as in time of peace.

The definition of genocide is set out in the article 2 of the Genocide Convention, which states that genocide means 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…

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13 comments

  • Excellent information Bojan. I didn’t know that genocide was so difficult to define but I’m not surprised the Chinese and Moskali convoluted the convention.
    What is your opinion for the reason some nations are hesitant to recognize the Holodomor as genocide? Certainly they aren’t considered a political group.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you.
      In my opinion, the Holodomor was clear example of genocide – it easily fits in the definition of genocide from the article 2.c) of the Convention – “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”
      However, just like genocide against Serbs in WWII, the Holodomor happened before the Genocide Convention entered into force in 1951. Because of the fact that the Convention cannot be applied retrospectively, both genocides remained without judicial epilogue.

      Recognition of genocide by a specific nation or international body through declarations is purely political act and therefore lack of recognition does not in any way imply that there hasn’t been a genocide.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Ahem… the holocaust also happened before the convention came into force. Does this mean it was not recognized as genocide as well? And what about cultural genocide, e.g. russification and islamization? Are these recognized as genocide?

        Liked by 3 people

        • Look, I’m talking about the judicial “recognition” – the first one took place in Nuremberg and followed by numerous judgments of national courts and lately by ICTY and ICTR, as well as ICJ.
          As I’ve already said, political recognitions of genocide or lack thereof are irrelevant from the legal point of view, which is why do not comment them particularly.
          Regarding cultural genocide, I agree that it should be included in the legal definition. In my recent article I discussed why political groups aren’t protected by the Convention, but I probably deal with that topic in the near future. Not only “russification and islamisation” but also the opposite example – cultural genocide against muslim Uighurs in China.

          Liked by 4 people

          • *the ICTY, the ICTR and the ICC
            ** I probably will deal with that topic

            Liked by 4 people

          • Sounds like a very complex matter. So, political recognition is for the ass until a high court or international court recognizes a certain crime as genocide – which would allow the victims to raise legal claims and eventually receive financial or any form of compensation.?

            Liked by 3 people

            • Exactly. Although, we shouldn’t underestimate the influence of political pressure. With one important thing to bear in mind – political declarations are always “quid pro quo”, meaning that political recognition of genocide is usually a political favour (or a reason to ask for a favour), and not the result of a deep conviction that genocide has occurred.

              Liked by 3 people

  • That’s good. Political groups can never be seen anywhere near as equals to ethnic, national, racial or religious groups.

    Liked by 4 people

    • If we adopt the principle of immutability as a guideline, then only ethnic group would be eligible for protection. Because, what is nationality if not a political category?!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Yes. A swedish passport does not make one a swede, but only a citizen of the swedish state. On the other hand – mass deportation or ethnic cleansing are not a genocide, except the latter was achieved through physical deatruction.

        Liked by 3 people

        • The distinction between genocide and ethnic cleansing (as a crime against humanity) is one of the most discussed topics in the theory (and practice) of the international criminal law. Also one of the potential articles on my blog.

          Liked by 3 people

      • Correction, ethnic and (or even only) racial groups. Race is the only determinant of our identity that we can’t choose or change.
        Religion is variable and changeable. The same applies to nationality.

        Liked by 3 people

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