Bojan Pepić: Political Groups and the Genocide Convention

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


  1. 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.

    • 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.

      • Agreed, but even a political declaration can apply pressure to guilty regimes. Especially constant offenders like the Moskali after more than 100 years of oppression on Ukraine. I think politicians have the tendency to parse or compartmentalize offenses and not “connect the dots.” The attempted illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and Donbas are just another chapter in Muskovy’s oppression and should be taken in context with everything else, including the worst humanitarian disaster of the 20th century, the holodomor. My opinion :)) Thanks again Bojan.

        • I totally agree with you. There has to be an international pressure on guilty regimes – but many nations are more concerned about their economic interests and the need for Russian gas and Russian market, so they rather don’t go too far in condemning Russian historical and present day “sins.” Take Germany for example, their response (in sense of economic sanctions against Russia) was the mildest of all EU countries.

      • 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?

        • 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.

          • 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.?

            • 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.

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

    • 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?!

      • 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.

        • 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.

      • 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.

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